Deborah

Kuhl

Singer - Piano Player - Songwriter

French Songs and Their Stories

Sometimes you hear a song in French and you want to know more about it, what the words mean, who the composer is, whether there's story behind it! 

L'Hymne a l'amour (Piaf/Monnot) - My favorite Piaf song has an English translation known as "If you love me, really love  me."

 

Je ne regrette rien (Vaucaire/Dumont) - Piaf's "I don't regret anything" should be a familiar melody to most.

 

La Vie en Rose - Piaf's most famous song.

 

Si j'etais une cigarette (A. Salvador) - French sultry jazz.  One of my favorite French songs of all time, "If I were a cigarette" uses metaphors to transform a woman into a cigarette, held between his fingers which with the strike of a match make her burn for him,  held between his lips, leading his dreams with her trails of smoke....A truly hot, smoky song! 

 

Boum (Trenet) - This is the song that screams France to me.  Trenet, known as the 'singing nut' is one of France's best songwriters, starting in the 1930s until he performed his last concert in the 90s. Boum sings of the "Boum"  you hear in your heart when you're in love and 'how the whole world goes 'boum' with it." 

 

Que Reste-t-il de Nos Amours - also by Trenet is known in English as "I Wish You Love."  While Trenet asks i n French "what's left of our loves" and continues with wistful thoughts about faded happiness, stolen kisses and dreams, the English version is said to have been inspired by a domestic dispute on the other side of the apartment wall of the lyricist.  He took each insult and turned it around to come up with the "I wish you"  lines. 

 

La Mer - the third Trenet song I cover, is "Beyond the Sea" in English. 

Gottingen (Barbara) -- French jazz waltz.  Legendary songwriter Barbara wrote this song in honor of the German city of Gottingen and in spite of historical French- German animosity. 

 

Chanson pour l'auvergnat (G.Brassens) - Brassens could be called the Woody Guthrie of France.  This waltz thanks everyone who helped in life from the person of the Auvergne region to the onlooker who did not mock him as he was being taken away by the police. 

 

Je t'aime (Fabian/Allison) - This is modern torch song with dramatic lyrics--I love you like a crazyman, a soldier, like a movie star...

 

Qui sait (Farres/Larue) - This song with a Caribbean feel is well known in Spanish though I believe the original is in French.  A lover challenges his mate about the limits of flirting..."Who knows?"  what he'll do if she flirts while dancing, he might just do the same.   I featured the song on my CD "Carte Postale."

 

Paris, tu m'as pris dans tes bras (E. Macias) - "Paris you took me in your arms"...Macias is a Pied-Noir singing of how Paris took him in when he left his beloved Algeria. 

Ne Me Quitte Pas (Brel) - The French lyrics of this song, whose title can be literally translated as "Don't Leave Me", by Jacques Brel, known in English as "If You Go Away" are so moving, so desperate, that I won't sing it in English.  In the verses Brel  promises to bring "pearls of rain from lands where it doesn't rain at all," and speaks of "love that is rekindled, of land ravaged by fire that produces wheat again' and in the final verse as he promises "to keep quiet and merely watch her sing, smile, dance and laugh," he says it's enough for him to be "the shadow of her shadow, the shadow of her hand, of her dog. "