FRENCH POP LYRICS SUMMER SPECIAL
HOW TO BE A YÉ-YÉ GIRL: #9 – Be an Immigrant
Many yé-yé girls were from families that had emigrated to France. Stella was from Poland and Sylvie Vartan, one of the most successful of the them all, was born in Bulgaria. Her marriage to Johnny Halliday effectively made them the king and queen of French pop in the sixties.
Like Halliday, Vartan sang mainly French translations of US hits, but by the mid-sixties she had started to record an increasing amount of original material, including this dramatic ballad from 1966.
I took a large part of this translation from this source:
PAR AMOUR, PAR PITIÉ On ne jette pas un vieux jean usé On recolle un livre abîmé On regarde une photo ratée Et on pleure sur une fleur séchée Par amour ou par pitié Oh, oh, oh, par amour ou par pitié On ne rit pas d'un arbre brisé On arrose une terre brûlée On ramasse un oiseau tombé On recueille un chien sans collier Par amour ou par pitié Oh oh oh par amour ou par pitié On relève un boxeur tombé On bande les yeux d'un condamné On enterre un ennemi tué On achève un cheval blessé Par amour ou par pitié Oh oh oh par amour ou par pitié Alors toi, toi qui m'as aimée Toi qui sais que je suis blessée Que sans toi, sans toi, Ma vie est brisée A genoux, je viens te prier Pitié, aie pitié Oh, par amour ou par pitié Oh, par amour ou par pitié
FOR LOVE, OUT OF PITY Old worn-out jeans aren't thrown away A damaged book is stuck back together An unsuccesful photo is looked at And a dried up flower is cried over For love or out of pity Oh! For love or out of pity A broken tree isn't laughed at A burnt land is watered A fallen bird is picked up A dog without a collar is taken in For love or out of pity Oh! For love or out of pity A fallen boxer is helped back up A condemned person is blindfolded A killed enemy is buried An injured horse is put down For love or out of pity Oh! For love or out of pity So you, you who have loved me You who know that I am hurt That without you, without you, My life is broken On my knees, I've come to beg you Have pity, oh have pity Oh, for love or out of pity Oh, for love or out of pity
FRENCH GRAMMER: ON (Subject Pronoun)
‘On’ literally translates as ‘One’ and conjugates with Il and Elle (as in English).
It can be translated in several ways.
One (though we rarely say this in modern English):
One doesn’t throw away old worn-out jeans
You (as in people in general):
You don’t throw away old worn-out jeans
We (in French ‘On’ sounds less formal than ‘Nous’):
We don’t throw away old worn-out jeans
NB This doesn’t make much sense in the context of the song.
It can also be translated into the passive voice:
Old worn-out jeans aren’t thrown away
NB I think this works best in the context of the song.