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Interview Part 2: Mary goes International

Recently Jessica invited Mary to sit down with a coffee in front of a microphone. Jessica had a list of questions gathered from the lovely people on social media, and Mary answered until her coffee ran out. We'll be publishing her answers in themed batches. Thank you for your questions everyone!

Part 2. Mary Goes International

@Joaniescruff from Twitter. Mary, how difficult/or easy (!) was it to learn your European-language songs? Who coached you on pronunciations, inflections, etc., and how much time did you have to learn them before recording? xoxo

MH: Ah, now I seem to remember that, I think it was Neil Aspinall's wife was French or spoke French and she coached me. Basically I was learning it phonetically and I seem to remember Peter Asher or someone with him. Peter produced the language versions. Somebody from Apple coached me. I sang them phonetically really. And what I found later, which was a bit annoying, was that they had no relation at all to the English lyrics, they were completely different. In French it's 'The Time of Flowers'. Nothing to do with 'Those Were The Days'. It's a nostalgic lyric but now I would have wanted to know what every word meant. Then I didn't have the time or inclination to find out. I assumed it was a literal translation of the song and I found out it wasn't.

JLM: Did you sing any of these live?

MH: No, I didn't sing them live.

JLM: But you sang in Italian.

MH: Yes, I sang at the San Remo Song Festival. They approached me and I sang 'Lontano Dagli Occhi'. I had to learn that properly obviously and that was sung live. We came second I think. They doubled you up with an Italian singer, so Sergio Enrico did the other version of it, so they had a male and female doing it. Midge Ure's just done the San Remo this year, in January.

JLM: So the same competition is still going.

MH: Yes, San Remo Song Festival.

JLM: Kunihiko Kikuchi is one of your fans in Japan and wants to ask you: "What food did you eat in Japan and what do you remember about it and also will you come back?"

MH: Well I had a wonderful trip to Japan, Expo 70. The most memorable occasion was not the gig or the exhibition itself, the Expo, it was the day trip we took out to Kyoto, the old capital. It was absolutely exquisite, with its temples and gravel gardens, meditation gardens. Wonderful place. Having my friends there with me, Benny and Graham, and Paco Pena and my whole family came as well. I remember that. And the people were so kind and polite and wonderful, wonderful audience. I met some lovely people there. It was my first sushi experience. i didn't take to it initially but when I tried it again after I'd left Japan, my second experience, I was hooked forever. It is one of my favourite foods now, sushi.

JLM: Extra wasabi.

MH: Oh yes, and ginger.

JLM: If you don't go back to Japan I'll gladly go back.

MH: Oh you loved it, you could go back and do an Evening Without Mary Hopkin. You do it so beautifully when I'm not around.

Allan Davies: Can you tell me if you sang in Toronto Mary, if so what year? Diolch!

MH: Oh, that's Allan, hello Allan! Yes I sang in Toronto but I honestly can't remember where and whether it was... I did some state fairs in Canada, whether it was one of the huge outdoor State Fairs, thousands... ten thousand people. No I don't remember. My next trip to Toronto was with Tony when he was recording Thin Lizzy and when I did the Dear Lord choir part, that was in Toronto.

Our timeline confirms: May 26th, Opens for a one week engagement at the O'Keefe Centre, Toronto, Canada.

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Mary Hopkin Le Temps Des Fleurs