Interpretations:Au Contraire

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Interpretation 1[edit]

I think it's a pretty straightforward lyric (for TMBG) -- just some silly fun contradicting people who like to think they're something special, even Gandhi himself! The repeated "Right On"s at the end are a reference to Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin On," of course. —Preceding unsigned comment added by ZeppyFish (talkcontribs) 22:48, May 5, 2004

Interpretation 2[edit]

The song is about how great people aren't good at everyday things. FDR didn't know what clothes matched, Gandhi wasn't too good at poker, and apparently David Bowie doesn't know that people below can't hear him in his airplane(?). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:08, July 14, 2004

But a boat is the best hand of the three, and generally not a hand to sneeze at. If Gandhi loses that hand, it's because somebody got lucky. Special:Contributions/ 01:15, August 10, 2004

Interpretation 3[edit]

I'm not sure if FDR is being ridiculed or not. He cries, "This tie CLASHES with my hat" to which he is told, "Au contraire." So what does that mean? "Sorry, your clothes really DO match"? On the other hand, David Bowie is blasted. Linnell evidently dislikes Bowie's chops. The poker game reminds of that episode on Next Generation where Data plays cards with Einstein, Newton and Hawking. --An orangutan 13:15, July 17, 2004

Interpretation 4[edit]

For those as confused as me by "Don't you dig my chops": this seems to be American slang (it wasn't in my English slang dictionary) and the following is the only explanation I have found on the web.

Musicians tend to use the word "chops" in its original meaning, referring to the lips or mouth. Thus, "busting your chops" means to play your instrument to the point of overplaying it, especially if it's a wind or brass instrument, as in, "I busted my chops on that piece." It's also used to denote skill: "He has the chops," or "It takes good chops to play this piece." "Chops" is also applied to musicians who don't play wind or brass instruments, though it always sounds strange to my ear to hear someone say of a drummer, "He has the chops." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:18, July 26, 2004

Interpretation 5[edit]

This song is a simple celebration of the deflationary power we all have when we choose to disagree. No matter how apparently untouchable an icon might be (Gandhi being the epitome), a simple two word phrase is capable of cutting it down. As usual with John Linnell, it's language that provides this miracle. The music matches the cute cheek of the French phrase, something lost immediately when translated to "on the contrary". (French borrowings into English very often capture an attitude of some kind that English lacks a word for. Joie de vivre is another obvious example.)

So it's not really right to say that Linnell doesn't like Bowie's face. By that logic he dislikes Gandhi's poker playing (whereas Gandhi probably never played poker, and even if he did, how could JL dislike it?). What the song has fun with is simply that anyone, anytime, can be cut down a little by a gentle rebuff. In that sense, everyone, even Jodie Foster, is just another "Person Man". (P.S. Those mad right-wingers who renamed French Fries "Freedom Fries" obviously didn't appreciate that ancient French ability to say "Au contraire".) -bb 22:00, July 26, 2004

Interpretation 6[edit]

Sometimes people will disagree with your vanity
Sometimes people will disagree with your style
Sometimes people will disagree with how you play the game
They may not give any good reasons
But they many people will agree with them. -Gator 15:59, August 3, 2004

Interpretation 7[edit]

George Carlin, in his "Hair Poem", famously rhymed "Au contraire" with "Mon frere". Maybe Linnell was channeling old George. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Scottyk (talkcontribs) 19:57, August 22, 2004

Interpretation 8[edit]

Could Jodie Foster playing poker have something to do with the movie Maverick with Mel Gibson, where Foster plays a wild-west ladylike Poker Player? --pacdude 23:18, September 12, 2004

Interpretation 9[edit]

I want to know who beat Ghandi, and what hand they had. And Linnell must have a very poor opinion of Jodie's skill at poker; what on earth was she doing staying in with 2 pairs when the action got that rich? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:44, September 21, 2004

Interpretation 10[edit]

Re: French borrowings into English like Joie de vivre... or of course savoir faire. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:27, November 10, 2004

Interpretation 11[edit]

Something occured to me the other day when I was listening to the song, because at the very same time the song was playing, I saw someone walking down the street that looked like a famous person (I forget who), but on another glance wasn't. I suddenly realized that all these famous people named in the song might not be famous people at all, but just normal people who resemble them. --AgentParsec 17:57, June 10, 2005

Interpretation 12[edit]

The song is a parody of those people who like to criticize celebrities for minor blunders or silly mistakes. "Oh, but Gandi made some racist statements," says the critic. "Yeah, and he wrongly thought he had a full house once too!" replies Linnell. —Preceding unsigned comment added by AaronSw (talkcontribs) 21:50, June 26, 2005

Interpretation 13[edit]

D had 4 Jacks (=Johns) in 2004 but W (little deuce Van) won.--M. Fudd 20:01, 21 Dec 2005 (EST)

Interpretation 14[edit]

I think that it is saying that everyone is wrong about everything. --Nehushtan 13:41, 21 Mar 2006 (CST)

Or that everyone is wrong about something. --Crummy 11:09, March 31, 2006
But in all of the cases the singer is the one who is actually wrong. maybe it's about who's right and wrong depends on your perspective? -- Rilom 02:25, August 27, 2006

Interpretation 15[edit]

I think this song has to do with different cultures, and how people react differently to differnet things in different cultures. This is used by different cultured people: David Bowie (England), Franklin Delano Roosevelt (19th-20th Century America), Jodie Foster (America), Johann Sebastian Bach (Germany), Mahatma Gandhi (India). And they are retorted by a different culture (French) by saying "Au Contraire". I guess it's kind've hard to explain further than that. --Ralph 11:56, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Interpretation 16[edit]

I recall a Peanuts cartoon from way back where Snoopy and Woodstock are haveing a discussion. Woodstock keeps saying 'au contraire' to every point that Snoopy makes, and this frustrates the other one. I think the song makes the same point. Linnell may have seen the cartoon and been inspired by it. --pduggie 21 Dec 2006

Interpretation 17[edit]

I think this song is about how even famous people are just like everyone else and make the same mishaps just like everyone else —Preceding unsigned comment added by Thestatuegotmehigh (talkcontribs) 15:19, February 26, 2007

Wake up and smell the catfood[edit]

They like breathing new life into trite phrases and cliches. The little scenarios seem to be excuses for doing that. This song features "hate to rain on your parade," "wash that notion from your hair," and all the variations on "au contraire": "quite the opposite, in fact," "Hate to contradict you," etc. --E. A. Poe 03:02, June 16, 2011

Interpretation 19[edit]

Every time I hear this song I just imagine a group of stereotyped mean French people contradicting people of different nationalities just to feel superior. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:20, November 17, 2012

Famous People Are Not Worth More Than You[edit]

Just because David Bowie, and many other people think, his songs are good, doesnt mean that you should think that too. Just because roosevelt thinks his tie clashes with his hat, you can disagree. And ghandi is not better at poker than you. Just because people are famous, does not make them more right, or better. This is emphasized by personal names like "Dave" and "Delanor" being used instead of "Bowie" oder Roosevelt". You can say, "Au Contraire" -Silas