Thursday, January 3, 2008

Free Press for London's Bard of Decay

In today's Free Press there is a nice piece by James Reaney on a local song writer frequently featured here on the Fog, Frank le Fou.

The sinkhole may be gone -- and still the malady lingers.

Actually, it's the sinkhole-inspired melodies and satirical shots that linger longest and best.

They're the work of Frank le Fou, a London singer-songwriter who never tires of coming up with a tune good enough to use as a rocket launcher targeting a local shortcoming.

During the the sinkhole's disruption of downtown London, le Fou was called "the sinkhole singer" by a friend, Mike Davidson, host of a Thursday show on 94.9 CHRW, the UWO campus radio station.

"I was surprised to read on your blog that you found Downtown London, What a Mess my most appealing melody," the singer-songwriter-satirist e-mailed recently. "The riff being a ripoff of Sweet Home Alabama, I thought it was the most obvious cliche in my repertoire -- then again, it's sold a lot of records for Lynyrd Skynyrd."

When Davidson brought le Fou on his show one morning last month, the one-liners were flying.

The singer's obsessions -- the John Labatt Centre, the sinkhole (real and metaphorical), municipal stupidity, potholes, snow removal, parking, flying manhole covers -- were slapped around on song after song.

"From Pothole City and London Is Crumbling Down to Three Per Cent and Risin', from I Will Never Laugh Again at New Orleans to City's Gonna Be in a Pie Shape . . . Frank is a Londoner telling London's stories to Londoners, expressing the bitter yet inane truths of life in lead-soaked London, Ontario," Davidson said in an e-mail of his friend.

Between guitar strums and choruses, le Fou kept the jokes coming. "Without hydro for a big sound system, Al Gore can't talk and Cher can't play," he mock-lamented.

"This is an older song, as old as London I think, it's called Pothole City," he said of another song.

On Davidson's show, le Fou even used the word "infrastructure" in a song and made it sound natural at one point.

"The words -- if not the title -- to The Outdated System's to Blame may be familiar," the artist known as le Fou e-mailed. "They were lifted, word for word in some cases, from an article in The Free Press."

Le Fou's MySpace says his category is acoustic/melodramatic popular song/visual. It lists Nietzsche and Orwell as influences.

Also included is the following description of him: "An angry Bruce Cockburn arguing with Townes Van Zandt stoned on vodka and cough syrup."

Those are the words of a friend, le Fou said.

Other le Fou details are obscure. His offstage name is a mystery.

So is his appearance.

At first, he had provided Davidson with an image of Sesame Street character Mr. Snuffleuphagus when The Free Press asked for a photo. Later, he sent along the [original]photo accompanying this article.

"I'm a little camera-shy," le Fou said. "I dug this one up from the archives and thought it was suitable -- and a little more believable than Snuffleuphagus."


Anonymous said...

Now he has went and made himself famous.
He'll forget about us little people.

Frank le Fou could you please email me a signed autograph. I have to beat Ivan to this one.

NIAC said...

LOL, I think that is awesome.