Song of the Day #775: ‘How Do You Do’ – Shakira

Here’s the Jungian album cover I promised. Thank you, Jung! As Shakira explained, “the reference is to a universal archetype of Eve and the original sin. I think that is something that is really subconsciously in our minds. On the cover of Vol. 2 I wanted to add another reason for Eve to bite the forbidden fruit – that would be her oral fixation.”

Works for me.

Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 might not be the best album Shakira has released, but I find it the most interesting. Stylistically it’s all over the map, with club songs ramming up against florid ballads and alternative rockers. And lyrically Shakira touches on a wider range of topics than she has in the past, including a dip into global politics with ‘Timor.’

And though her lyrics are often clunky (a product of her still growing familiarity with the language as well as her idiosyncrasies in any tongue), she manages a few nice turns of phrase, such as this simple but touching line from the song ‘Dreams for Plans’: “Have we missed our chance? Have we changed our hopes for fears and our dreams for plans?”

Today’s track, the album’s opener, is one of the album’s most provocative songs. Kicking off with a choral reading of The Lord’s Prayer and weaving Arabic, Hebrew and Latin phrases throughout, it’s an in-your-face address to God, including this powerful line in its chorus: “You’ve made mistakes, well that’s OK ’cause we all have. But if I forgive yours, will you forgive mine?”

The song was banned in the Middle East (along with the album cover, which was replaced by a version covering Shakira’s midriff). Their loss, on both counts.

Forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who have trespassed against us
Give us this day our daily bread
Daily bread, daily bread

In cello et in terra fiat voluntas tua
Gloria Spiritui Sancto

What language do you speak
If you speak at all?
Are you some kind of freak
Who lives to raise the ones who fall?

Hey, could you tell me why
The cat fights the dog?
Do you go to the Mosque
Or the Synagogue?

And if our fates have all been wrapped around your finger
And if you wrote the script then why the troublemakers?

How do you do?
How does it feel to be so high
And are you happy?
Do you ever cry?

You’ve made mistakes
Well that’s OK ’cause we all have
But if I forgive yours
Will you forgive mine?

Hey, do you feel our pain
And walk in our shoes?
Have you ever felt starved
Or is your belly always full?

How many people die
And hurt in your name?
Hey, does that make you proud
Or does it bring you shame?

And if our fates have all been wrapped around your finger
And if you wrote the script then why the troublemakers?

How do you do?
How does it feel to be so high
And are you happy?
Do you ever cry?

You’ve made mistakes
Well that’s OK ’cause we all have
But if I forgive yours
Will you forgive mine?

Forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who have trespassed against us
…Sameh Zoonoobee Allah… [Arabic. English translation: “Forgive my sins, Oh, Lord”]
Give us this day our daily bread
…Mechila… [Hebrew. English translation: “Forgiveness”]
Daily bread
…Ya Allah (S’lach lanu)… [Hebrew. English translation: “Oh, Lord (Forgive us)”]
Daily bread
…Ya Allah (S’lach lanu)…

Forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who have trespassed against us
…Sameh Zoonoobee Allah…
Give us this day our daily bread
…Mechila…
Daily bread
…S’lach lanu…
Daily bread
Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory
Amen!

How do you do?
How does it feel to be so high
And are you happy?
Do you ever cry?

You’ve made mistakes
Well that’s OK ’cause we all have
And if I forgive yours
Will you forgive mine?

How do you do?
How does it feel to be so high
And are you happy?
Do you ever cry?

You’ve made mistakes
And that’s OK ’cause we all have
But if I forgive yours
Will you forgive mine…?

6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #775: ‘How Do You Do’ – Shakira

  1. Dana says:

    Is Shakira trying to imitate Alanis Morissette here? Sounds like she is, both in spirit and in particularly in singing tone. Not a particularly effective style for her. She is MUCH better with the Latin sounds.

    If this is an example to you of Shakira’s English vocals being more effective, I would suggest that Amy’s theory is definitely on the money, because there are clearly no Latin musical elements here to conflict with the English. And, as the song really does nothing for me, at least musically, I”m sure it would do even less for me if sung in Spanish (very much like the first song you featured this week in that regard)

    Oh, and to the extent Shakira’s voice does contain that Morissette nasally quality, I can see why Alex actively dislikes it. From what I have heard, that nasally quality is less present when she sings in Spanish, which may be yet another reason why you and others prefer her singing in her native tongue.

  2. Clay says:

    She has often been compared to Morissette vocally, especially in her English songs, and as a non-fan of Morissette, I agree it’s not the best sound for her. So I’m glad to see you finally admit that she’s “MUCH better” in Spanish. 🙂

    That said, I find this song excellent both musically and vocally.

  3. Dana says:

    Yes, she probably is better singing Spanish, but, more particularly, she is probably better singing in a more Latin style sound, as I prefer the songs featured Tuesday through Thursday, whether sung in English or Spanish to either of the songs featured Monday and today.

  4. Dana says:

    So, here’s a thought from the Crouching Tiger theorem,,,, I wonder if you prefer Shakira in Spanish because, when she sings in Spanish, you pay less attention to the Morissette tone in her voice, which you generally don’t like (at least when it is Morissette singing), and you instead pay more attention to the music and overall vibe of the songs. By contrast, someone like Alex hears and focuses equally on that tonal quality both when she hears Shakira in English and Spanish. Thus, she doesn’t like Shakira’s voice period, while you simply prefer Shakira in Spanish over English.

  5. Clay says:

    That could well be, though I also think there is an actual difference in the quality of her voice singing Spanish vs. English, as well as her confidence in singing it. I’ve compared it to Penelope Cruz being a much better actress in Spanish than English.

    I think in both cases they have to concentrate on just using the right words and pronouncing them correctly when using English, distracting from the emotional investment in singing/acting. As both have become more comfortable with English, I think they’ve improved.

  6. Dana says:

    I don’t think the acting analogy works here. As someone who, in chorus, had to memorize and sing many dozens of songs in different languages, I can tell you that the quality of the tone should not and does not change with different languages. In other words, one does not become a more nasally singer in Spanish over English. Certainly, the pronunciation may well be off, as may be the emotionality one puts behind a particular lyric he or she may not understand. These things (pronunciation and having the emotions jive with the meaning of the lyrics) are what singers spend their time working on when singing in another language. The work on tone is basically the same in either language.

    Now, perhaps Shakira’s comfortability in Spanish allows her to more readily focus on and “correct” her tone, while she doesn’t apply that same effort when singing in English (because she is too busy trying to get the pronunciation and emotion right). That, however, should be more evident in live performances than in studio recordings, at least if the producer is worth anything since it is the producer’s job to make sure her tone is good and what is intended, regardless of language.

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