Johnny Hallyday, one of the biggest stars of French music, died last month. Here is one of his early recordings from 1960. Like many of his records it is a reworking of an English song, though the original version by Barbara Evans is fairly obscure.
Hallyday later married Sylvie Vartan and they were effectively the king and queen of French pop, though hipsters probably preferred Jaques Dutronc and Francoise Hardy.

Thanks to Gavier at Lyrics Translate for the translation.


Souvenirs, souvenirs
Je vous retrouve dans mon cœur
Et vous faites refleurir
Tous mes rêves de bonheur
Je me souviens d'un soir de danse
Joue contre joue
Des rendez-vous de nos vacances
Quand nous faisions les fous
Souvenirs, souvenirs
De nos beaux jours de l'été
Lorsque nous partions cueillir
Mille fleurs, mille baisers
Et pour mieux garder dans ma tête
Les joies de la belle saison
Souvenirs, souvenirs
Il nous reste nos chansons
Souvenirs, souvenirs
Quelque part dans le matin
Où le soleil semblait rire
Tout le long de nos chemins
Nous n'avions au fond de nos poches
Qu'un peu d'espoir
Mais nous partions comme Gavroche
Le cœur assez bavard
Souvenirs, souvenirs
Vous revenez dans ma vie
Illuminant l'avenir
Lorsque mon ciel est trop gris
On dit que le temps vous emporte
Et pourtant ça, j'en suis certain
Souvenirs, souvenirs
Vous resterez mes copains

Memories, memories
I find you in my heart again
And again you make flower
All my dreams of happiness
I remember a night of dancing
Cheek to cheek
Our holiday meetings
When we played the fool
Memories, memories
Of our beautiful summer days
When we left to gather
A thousand flowers, a thousand kisses
And to better keep in my head
The joys of the beautiful season
Memories, memories
We still have our songs
Memories, memories
Somewhere in the morning
Where the sun seemed to laugh
All along our paths
We had in the bottom of our pockets
Only a little hope
But, we left like Gavroche*
The heart rather chatty
Memories, memories
You come back into my life
Lighting the future
When my sky is too grey
They say that time carries you away
And yet I am certain
Memories, memories
You will stay my friends

* Character from ‘Les Misérables’ – an urchin, a street child



GERMAN POP LYRICS: The 1960s – Part 11

This series has already featured France Gall and Francoise Hardy, so why not include Sylvie Vartan as well? The sad truth is that the homegrown beat Mädchens were no match for these French ye-ye imports.

“La Chanson” was adapted from French to German by Udo Jürgens in 1966. An influential figure in German language pop, he is perhaps best known for winning the Eurovision Song Contest for Austria that same year. Vartan may not be famous for singing in German, but she is at her best here, giving a passionate performance. This rarity can be found on the compilation “Verlorene Mädchen: Teil 1”.


La Chanson, das Lied das mir geblieben
Erzählt mir du wirst mich immer lieben
Doch viel zu schnell vergingen unsere Tage
Wer Antwort sucht, der findet eine Frage

Ja, la Chanson, das Lied das wir gesungen
Ist nun für dich vergessen und verklungen
Und jeder Blick aus deinen Augen sagt: "Vorbei!"

Jedes Wort wollt' diesem Lied ich glauben
Niemand sollt' dieses Glück mir rauben

La Chanson, das Lied hat mich betrogen
Es klang so schön, doch du hast mich belogen
Und viel zu schnell vergingen unsere Stunden
Wir suchten uns und haben nichts gefunden

Ja, la Chanson, das Lied ist mir geblieben
Und tut's auch weh, ich werd' es immer lieben
Ja, heute sing' ich dieses unser Lied nur für dich
Wo du auch bist, wohin's dich auch zieht
Hör’ la Chanson, unser Lied

La Chanson, the song that stays with me
Tells me you will always love me
But our days passed by far too fast
One who looks for answers will find a question

Yes, la Chanson, the song that we sang	
Is now forgotten and faded for you
And every look from your eyes says: "It’s over!"

I wanted to believe every word of this song
No one shall rob me of this happiness

La Chanson, the song deceived me
It sounded so beautiful, but you lied to me
And our hours passed by far too fast
We searched for each other and found nothing

Yes, la Chanson, the song stays with me
And it also hurts, I will always love it
Yes, today I sing this, our song, only for you
Wherever you are, wherever you are drawn
Listen to la Chanson, our song



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:


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

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.