“You’ve got a friend”?

“You’ve got a friend”? January 16, 2015

Of course we’ve got to talk about the now-infamous “James Taylor sings ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ to the French” clip.


Note that I haven’t seen this.

I’m taking a break at work (remember:  I work at home, part-time, I don’t claim this as work-time), so I can link to the video, but I haven’t actually seen it, just read reporting on it, such as this item from Bloomberg, or, in the blogosphere, this piece from Ann Althouse.

But, look:  I hate to rain on your parade, but this is not the dumbest action in the annals of Smart Diplomacy (that was the reset button) or even the dumbest thing in the news today (that’s the Mount Hoyloke cancellation of The Vagina Monologues because it didn’t include women without vaginas.)  According to Bloomberg, Taylor was in Paris anyway, so it’s not as if the US imported him as a prop.  And the bigger question is not, does Kerry look like a fool in Americans’ eyes, but what do the French think?

Le Figaro says,

Le chef de la diplomatie américaine a créé la surprise en invitant le chanteur James Taylor à interpréter sur scène l’un de ses grands succès You’ve got a friend, alors qu’Anne Hidalgo lui tenait le micro. Un moment de grande émotion après une longue intervention de John Kerry durant laquelle il a notamment évoqué l’amitié entre la France et les États-Unis, rendu hommage aux victimes, fustigé les assassins et salué le courage de ceux qui ont affronté ces événements en sauvant des vies.

My rusty French tells me that key phrase is that this was a “moment of grand emotion” after Kerry’s speech invoking the friendship between the two countries, paying homage to the victims, criticized the attackers (I presume the connotation is harsher in French than just “criticize”), and saluting the courage of those who saved lives.

Now, this was the first paper that came to mind, so I tried to look around some more.  Maybe Le Figaro is too pro-Obama.  Le Monde has an article on the Kerry visit but makes no mention of James Taylor.  Maybe they went to press too soon?  But a search on google.fr turned up nothing either; plenty of articles on John Kerry, but as soon as I add “James Taylor” to the search, I get nothing — or, rather, I only get results from American news sources.  Again, this is from google.fr, and as soon as I take the James Taylor out again, it’s back to French results.

Which means the French news outlets aren’t reporting on it.  Possibly it was so cringe-worthy that they were embarrassed; or, more likely, it was a non-event, in their eyes, in the wider context.


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