On the 14th of February, it’s Valentine’s Day!
Last week, we talked about the verb “to love” in French, and today, we’re going further: we’re going to sing about it!
I love to share French music I love. It’s a great tool to improve your French and, more importantly, it gives you motivation to learn – because it’s fun. You can listen to famous French songs (old or new) on French radio for example.
Today, we’re going to dive into la chanson française (= French songs / a French genre of music with emphasis on the lyrics). I picked songs available on Spotify!
It’s just a starting point. I recommend you look further into the things you like and make your own personal playlist 🙂
Have fun! Discover new songs, and check out some French artists that might interest you.
Le truc en + :
Some great French songs are so famous already that I don’t feel like I need to talk about them today. Songs like:
L’hymne à l’amour, by Edith Piaf (1950)
Quand on a que l’amour, by Jacques Brel (1956)
Je t’aime… moi non plus, by Serge Gainsbourg (1967)
If you’ve never listened to them, be sure to check them out, they hold up well.
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1) Toi – Barbara (1964)
Toi (= you)
Barbara is a wonderful singer of love. She’s recorded deep, poetic, sometimes funny songs, at the heights of French songwriting.
Toi is a short song with some sweet poetry:
Tu me fais des nuits et des jours (= You’re making me some nights and days)
Et des jours et des nuits d’amour. (= and days and night of love.)
Toi, je le sais, tu pourrais même (= You could even, I know it,)
M’ensoleiller sous la pluie même. (= “sunshine” me under the rain itself.)
Other songs I love:
- Vienne (= Vienna)
- Je ne sais pas dire (= I don’t know how to say)
- À chaque fois (= Every time)
- Parce que je t’aime (= It’s because I love you) → “I’m leaving because I love you.”
Another great French love song you could listen to:
→ J’envoie valser (by Zazie – 1996)
2) La non-demande en mariage – George Brassens (1966)
La non-demande en mariage (= The marriage non-proposal)
Georges Brassens is a giant in French songwriting. Behind his big mustache, his pipe and his acoustic guitar, he wrote some quitely provocative, conservatively anarchist, poetically mundane music.
La non-demande en mariage is in line with his poetic love as well as his anarchist leanings. He professes his love as he rejects the institution of marriage, which he sees as killing love and freedom for both lovers.
The chorus says:
J’ai l’honneur de ne pas te demander ta main. Ne gravons pas nos noms au bas d’un parchemin. (= I have the honor of not asking for your hand in marriage. Let’s not engrave our names down a piece of parchment.)
In real life, Brassens met his muse Joha Heiman and loved her faithfully his whole life – without ever marrying her.
Other Brassens songs I love:
- Chanson pour l’Auvergnat (= Song for the man who comes from the “Auvergne” French region) → “L’Auvergnat” here is the kind-hearted outsider
- La Mauvaise Réputation (= The Bad Reputation)
- Mourir pour des idées (= Dying for ideas)
Another French love song you could listen to:
→ Il n’y a pas d’amour heureux (by Keren Ann & Tanger – in “Les Oiseaux de Passage”, 2001)
3) Paradis - Orelsan (2017)
Paradis (= Paradise / Heaven)
Orelsan is a French rap artist. He’s very popular at the moment.
In Paradis, he writes a heartfelt love song, relating the simple joy of his relationship. It’s an uncommon step in his aggressive/depressed repertoire.
The chorus goes:
Qu’est-ce que j’irais faire au paradis (= What would I do in paradise)
Quand tu t’endors près de moi? (= when you’re sleeping next to me?)
Qu’il le donne à d’autres, le paradis (= They can give it to other people, their paradise)
Je n’en voudrais pas (= I wouldn’t want it)
Other French love songs you can also listen to:
- J’te connaissais pas (Oxmo Puccino 2009)
- Pili Pili sur un croissant au beurre (Gaël Faye, 2013)
4) Mémère dans les orties - Juliette (2005)
Mémère dans les orties (= Granny in the Nettle)
I love Juliette! She’s clever, poetic, and sweet.
Mémère dans les orties is a reference to “Il faut pas pousser mémé dans les orties”, a funny French colloquial expression, that means literally “you shouldn’t push grandma in the nettles”, and figuratively “there are limits you shouldn’t cross.”
Mémère is a colloquial word for a chubby old woman, set in her ways, the opposite of “trendy.”
The song is an affectionate, verbal fight between two (old?) lovers. They use old-fashioned, elegant words, and play on words.
The song goes:
Ne pas nous disputer ? (= “Let’s not fight”?)
Pour ça je suis d´accord (= On that I agree)
Si vous reconnaissez… (= If you acknowledge)
Que c´est vous qui avez tort (= That you’re the one who’s wrong)
And there’s a twist at the end, of course 🙂
One more song you could check out:
- Mon coeur, mon amour (Anaïs, 2005)
Et toi ?
→ As-tu une chanson d’amour en français à rajouter à ma liste ?
You can answer in French in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you.
“J’aime beaucoup Je Voudrais Vous Revoir, de Jean-Jacques Goldman.”
(= “I love “Je voudrais vous revoir” by Jean-Jacques Goldman.)
Allez, salut 😉
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