Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré, Georges Brassens
Paris is a beautiful city and Paris is also one of the world's top tourist destinations. Everyone goes there to feel, to be and to
experience some of that Parisian lifestyle. But just like every other tourist place Paris has all kinds of "authentic lifestyles" on
offer. I admit I am that worst kind of tourist, the one that's in search for "the real stuff". Attacker on that last frontier of private
life that every tourist place tries to preserve.
This time I was lucky to meet a nice French man who works in a shop that sells vintage books and records. We were talking
about lot of stuff but the most valuable thing I got from him, except for a few vinyl records, is my now enriched knowledge of
modern French chanson. He even recommended us where to go if we wanted to hear/see something live in that kind of spirit.
And of course we did and of course we'll never forget it. :-)
* Translation (by cortom):
...I tell you about a time ...That teenagers (lit.: those less than 20 years old) cannot know about ...At that time,
Montmartre hung its lilacs (pale blue or white, early-blooming flowers) ...right up to our windows, and even if our
humble furnished room ...That served us as a (love-)nest didn't look like much ...It was there that we knew each other
...Me, crying hunger, and you, posing in the nude ...La bohème, la bohème. That meant "one is happy" ...La boème,
la bohème. We only ate once every two days. ...In the neighbouring cafes ...We were people ...that waited for glory
(fame) and although miserable ...with empty stomacs (lit.: hollow bellies)
...we never stopped believing [in it] and when some pub (of course, 'bistro' is a typically french café)
...in exchange for a warm meal ...accepted a painting (lit.: a canvas), we recited verses ...gathered around the stove,
forgetting about winter. ...La bohème, la bohème. That meant "you are pretty"
...La bohème, la bohème, and all of us were geniuses (lit.: 'had genius') ...Often [it happened to me that],
...before my easel, (i.e. the stand upon which a painter puts the canvas he is working on) ...I spent sleepless nights
...touching up (=making minor corrections to) the drawing ...of the line of a breast ...of the figure of a hip, and only
at morning ...one sat down at last ...before a café-crème (coffee with much hot milk) ...exhausted, but exhillarated
...It must have been so that we loved each other, and that we loved life (a rather stiff translation of a fluent French
sentence, but I don't know how to put it otherwise)
...La bohème, la bohème. That meant "one was twenty years old" ...La bohème, la bohème and we lived from the
'spirit of the age' (That's literally what 'air du temps' means, but I'm sure that's not the right way to put it in English.
In French it has the connotation of living from air and nothing else, especially nothing material while at the same
time referring to the typical feeling in society at that particular time)
...When, some days in a whim ...I go out and take a walk ...to my old address
...I no longer recognise ...nor the walls, nor the streets ...that witnessed (lit.: saw) my youth
...At the top of a stairway ...I search for the workshop ...of which nothing remains ...In its new décor
...Montmartre looks sad, and the lilacs have died.
...La bohème, la bohème. We were young, we were crazy ...La bohème, la bohème.
It doesn't mean anything at all anymore. ♡
Michel Delacroix - Atelier Le Soir