Behind the Songs: Merci, Monsieur

Mata Hari

Mata Hari

I wrote the song from the point-of-view of the Mata Hari as she faces the firing squad and reflects on her life and how history will portray her. The Mata Hari has been somewhat of an obsession of mine for some time. She was not conventionally beautiful, but became a highly successful exotic dancer and courtesan. But what is most fascinating to me is how she suddenly and completely re-invented her life . She simply chose to become someone else, from somewhere else .. in her case, a Java princess of priestly Hindu birth, schooled in the art of sacred Indian dance. She adopted the name Mata Hari … literally means “eye of dawn”. This new persona gave her permission to pose and dance nearly nude at a time when this was unbelievably scandalous. No one knew she was living a complete lie.

She was eventually accused of spying for Germany and causing the deaths of 50,000 soldiers. In 1917 she was tried and executed by a firing squad in France, with the court documents ordered sealed for 100 years. They were unsealed some 30 years early and offered no evidence of espionage. However, almost 100 years later, her name is still offered up as one of the world’s most famous spies. Everything from what she wore to her execution, to her last purported words (Merci, Monsieur) to her supposed attempt to distract her executioners by flinging off her coat and shouting “Harlot, yes, but traitor, never” have mostly been disproved … but reported throughout history as truth. I gave myself permission to tell her story by telling my own little lie in the song …. “I’ll leave it for the storytellers to decipher my endeavors”.

What do you know about the Mata Hari? Was she guilty? Did her own lies cause rumours, leading to her conviction? Did she deserve her punishment?

~Shel


MERCI, MONSIEUR

(by Shelly Phelps)

In hat and gloves I stand before twelve barrels and a sword
When the blade falls in the morning light, I’ll exist no more
When history tells my story, will the layers be unpeeled
Maybe in one hundred years the truth will be unsealed

Merci, Monsieur
Merci, Monsieur
With my head held high and with open eyes
I shall know how to die
Merci, Monsieur

My life was my invention, a fictitious sacred poem
I turned from pain with a brand new name born in the eye of dawn
Bewitching and bejeweled I gave them my exotic dance
My power of seduction, the gift of my romance

Merci, Monsieur
Merci, Monsieur
With my head held high and with open eyes
I shall know how to die
Merci, Monsieur

For every single lie I’ve told there is a seed of truth
In these last moments of my life I’ll offer no excuse
I’ll leave it for the storytellers to decipher my endeavors
Courtesan, liaison … harlot yes, but traitor never!

Merci, Monsieur
Merci, Monsieur
I won’t resist, there’s no dying wish
I’ll just blow a kiss
Merci, Monsieur

Merci, Monsieur
Merci, Monsieur

© 2011 Shelly Phelps. Shelinator Music. All Rights Reserved.

~Shel

Scarlet Street Players Debut at Live Music on the Canal

Mark your calendars for Friday, September 5th for the debut performance of Shelly Phelps and the Scarlet Street Players!  We will be performing for the 5th Annual Live Music on the Canal Festival on the Jazzmo’z Bourbon Street Cafe patio stage from 8:30 – 9:30 pm.

The Scarlet Street Players are Rob Vollmar on lead guitar, Dave Cochran on bass guitar, Chris Foreman on drums, and Shelly Phelps on vocals. You will be the first to hear all the songs that will be on the upcoming Beautiful and Burdened album, so save the date and we will see you there!

Jazzmo'z Bourbon Street Cafe

Jazzmo’z Bourbon Street Cafe (photo by Alice Woodrome)

Saturday, November 12, at Martini’s Lounge, Broken Arrow, OK

Shelly Phelps and John Randolph will bring an eclectic mix of acoustic and original pop, folk, jazz, blues, and soul to Martini’s Lounge in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, on Saturday, November 12, from 8:30 – 12:30 pm. Martini’s Lounge is a non-smoking venue on the 2nd floor of the Clarion Inn at 145th or Aspen and The Broken Arrow Expressway.

Peace ya’ll,
Shel

Saturday, April 9, at The Blue Door, 8pm

Fezstravaganza! Fezopolis! Fezstock! Fez-o-rama! Saturday night at 8:00pm at the iconic Blue Door in OKC! $20 at the door, BYOB! So here’s the back story: long ago, a ragtag team of songwriter’s met and became friends. Fastforward 15 years ….. The Fezzmaster (Lori Wyssman) made us all fezzes (fez’? fezi?). We will don them simultaneously for a brief shining moment Saturday night while we swap songs. The fezz wearing minstrels are Joel Melton, Wendy Allyn, Ray Wyssmann, John Ashton Randolph, Craig C. White, Shelly Phelps, and The mysterious Mr. Shoe.

Peace ya’ll,
Shel

Tuesday, April 5 at VZD’s, 7-8pm

OK, so I know it’s a school night, but  I have a show on Tuesday, April 5 at VZD’s in Oklahoma City from 7:00 – 8:00 pm.  John Randolph and I will bring an eclectic mix of acoustic and original pop, folk, jazz, blues, and soul  as part of the Acoustic Oklahoma Project. Lots more great entertainment following our show ….  invite a friend and help me spread the word! Get all the details here or email me if you have any questions or if you just want to say hello!

Also … I’ll be at  The Blue Door on Saturday, April 9 with Joel Melton, Wendy Allyn, Ray Wyssmann, and John Randolph, 8:00 pm. Get all the details here or email me if you have any questions!

Much love!
~Shel

Friday, April 1 at Othello’s of Norman

Hello everyone! Even with this chill, Spring is in the air! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get out and kick my heels up a bit and I hope you will join me! I have a show on Friday, April 1 at Othello’s of Norman. Yep, that’s right … it’s April Fools Day! I’ll be performing mostly original music with John Randolph and a few tasty cover tunes sprinkled in. Showtime is 8:00 – 11:00 pm. Othello’s has great food and a great atmosphere … invite a friend and help me spread the word! Get all the details here or email me if you have any questions or if you just want to say hello!

A couple more upcoming shows to keep in mind … Tuesday, April 5 at VZD’s Restaurant & Club with John Randolph for Acoustic Oklahoma, 7:00 – 8:00 pm and Saturday, April 9 at The Blue Door with Joel Melton, Wendy Allyn, Ray Wyssmann, and John Randolph, 8:00 pm. Get all the details here or email me if you have any questions!

Oh yeah, did I mention that I reached my campaign goal at Kickstarter and I’m starting my new CD project? Many of YOU bought MP3’s, CD’s, merchandise, private concerts, and more in advance to help me raise funds for my new CD, “Beautiful and Burdened: 13 Vignettes about Secrets, Scandal, and Seduction”. The words “thank you” don’t seem to sum up my appreciation so I’m just going to make the best record I can possibly make … stay tuned. I love you!

Much love!
~Shel