Revenge Recommends: "Games Without Frontiers" by Peter Gabriel



Games Without Frontiers is a Peter Gabriel song from his 1980 album. It was inspired by the TV game show "It's a Knockout," known in various European languages as "Games Without Frontiers." In this show, which was actually a piece of thinnly-disguised Pan-European propaganda, along with the Eurovision Song Contest, teams of Europeans competed against each other dressed in silly costumes. The very intense, serious, and uber-political Mr. Gabriel took this as a convoluted metaphor for the "evils of nationalism."

Despite being based on such an overwrought idea, it is a particularly effective piece of music, juxtaposing edgy aural textures alongside daisy chain lyrics. Kate Bush is on backing vocals.

The names mentioned in the lyrics (see below) signify the following:
Hans: typical German name
Lotte: typical German female name
Jane: typical English female name
Willi: pun on the male sexual organ
Suki: Japanese word for "like" used as a sexy female name
Leo: male name with no specific national connotation, therefore possibly signifying America
Sacha: typical Russian name
Britt: female name suggesting Britain
Adolf: Hitler
Enrico: Enrico Fermi, the scientist who played the key role in the development of the atomic bomb
Andre: typical French name
Chiang Ching: Chairman Mao's widow who was very prominent following Mao's death in 1976
Lin Tai Yu: a character from the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber

The line "Whistling tunes we piss on goons in the jungle" was replaced by "Whistling tunes we're kissing baboons in the jungle" in versions of the song originally aired on radio and television.

In addition to Gabriel and Bush the other personnel involved were David Rhodes (guitar), Jerry Marotta (percussion), Larry Fast (synth, synth bass) and producers Steve Lillywhite and Hugh Padgham, who also performed on whistles.

Lyrics:

Jeux sans frontieres

Hans plays with Lotte, Lotte plays with Jane
Jane plays with Willi, Willi is happy again
Suki plays with Leo, Sacha plays with Britt
Adolf builts a bonfire, Enrico plays with it
Whistling tunes we hide in the dunes by the seaside
Whistling tunes we're kissing baboons in the jungle
It's a knockout
If looks could kill, they probably will
In games without frontiers, war without tears
Games without frontiers, war without tears

Jeux sans frontieres

Andre has a red flag, Chiang Ching's is blue
They all have hills to fly them on except for Lin Tai Yu
Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games
Hiding out in tree tops shouting out rude names
Whistling tunes we hide in the dunes by the seaside
Whistling tunes we piss on the goons in the jungle
It's a knockout
If looks could kill they probably will
In games without frontiers, wars without tears
If looks could kill they probably will
In games without frontiers, war without tears
Games without frontiers,war without tears

Jeux sans frontieres

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