marcel barang

Festival Brassens – 7

In English, French, Reading matters on 20/04/2011 at 8:08 pm

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When this song came out, I was nine, I didn’t know what a pipe looked like, but by then I had long had my first smoke – at source, so to speak.
In my grandfather’s farm, where I was born, there was a shed where, among other wonders, tobacco plants were strung out from ceiling to floor to dry before they could be turned into manoques (bales of compressed leaves) a tractor would take away to sell to a state manufacture.
I must have been around seven when, to impress my younger brother and my even younger cousin, I rolled half a tobacco leaf into a cigar of sorts and lit up and sucked and then retched and coughed for the rest of the day.
Later, much later, under peer pressure, I would graduate to pé quatre (P4, those packs of four fags sold to impecunious youngsters to foster early addiction that would unfailingly earn me a fatherly whipping when found in my pocket) and so on and so forth to more than half a century of groveling tobacco worship, and still counting, alas. For a while, pipes would feature in it too – as did a macho moustache, which in Nepal worked wonders on an Alitalia stewardess, but that’s another story –, but I never developed as much a taste for it, for them, as Georges obviously did. Well, it takes all sorts.
Anyway, back to the song, which you can hear him sing at youtube.com/watch?v=znmKx65RqGA. The title is obviously a take-off of ‘Auprès de ma blonde’ every French tot can hum before he knows what it means.

Auprès de mon arbre – Georges Brassens – 1955

By my tree’s side

J’ai plaqué mon chêne
Comme un saligaud
Mon copain le chêne
Mon alter ego

I ditched my oak tree
Like a dirty bastard
My pal the oak tree
My alter ego

On était du même bois
Un peu rustique un peu brut
Dont on fait n’importe quoi
Sauf naturell’ment les flûtes

We were of the same wood
A bit rustic, a bit crude
From which you can make anything
Except of course flutes

J’ai maint’nant des frênes
Des arbr’ de Judée
Tous de bonne graine
De haute futaie

I now have ash trees
And Judas trees
All from the best seeds
From tall-tree groves

Mais toi tu manques à l’appel
Ma vieille branche de campagne
Mon seul arbre de Noël
Mon mât de cocagne

But you are now missing
My old country branch
My lone Christmas tree
My one greasy pole

[Refrain]
Auprès de mon arbre
Je vivais heureux
J’aurais jamais dû m’éloigner d’mon arbre
Auprès de mon arbre
Je vivais heureux
J’aurais jamais dû le quitter des yeux

[Chorus]
By my tree’s side
I once lived happy
I ought never to have left my tree’s side
By my tree’s side
I used to live happy
I ought never to have let it out of my sight

Je suis un pauv’ type
J’aurai plus de joie
J’ai jeté ma pipe
Ma vieill’ pipe en bois
Qu’avait fumé sans s’fâcher
Sans jamais m’brûler la lippe
L’tabac d’la vache enragée
Dans sa bonn’ vieill’ têt’ de pipe

I’m a bloody fool
No more delights for me
I threw away my pipe
My old wooden pipe
Which had consumed, without complaint
Without ever burning my lips
The tobacco of hard times
In its good ol’ bowl

J’ai des pip’ d’écume
Ornées de fleurons
De ces pip’ qu’on fume
En levant le front
Mais j’retrouv’rai plus, ma foi
Dans mon coeur ni sur ma lippe
Le goût d’ma vieill’ pip’ en bois
Sacré nom d’un’ pipe

I have meerschaum pipes
Adorned with florets
The sort of pipe you smoke
Standing up for yourself
But I’ll never find again, upon my word
Either in my heart or on my lips
The taste o’ my ol’ wooden pipe
Holy smoke!

Refrain | Chorus

Le surnom d’infâme
Me va comme un gant
D’avecques ma femme
J’ai foutu le camp
Pasque depuis tant d’années
C’était pas un’ sinécure
De lui voir tout l’temps le nez
Au milieu de la figure

Despicable as a nickname
Fits me like a glove
From my wife
I cleared off
Cuz after so many years
It was no sinecure
Seeing all the time her nose
In the middle of her face

Je bats la campagne
Pour dénicher la
Nouvelle compagne
Valant celle-là
Qui, bien sûr, laissait beaucoup
Trop de pierr’ dans les lentilles
Mais se pendait à mon cou
Quand j’ perdais mes billes

I’m off my rockers
Trying to unearth
The one new mate
As good at the old
Who, of course, left in the lentils
Far too many grits
But threw her arms round my neck
When I lost my marbles

Refrain | Chorus

J’avais un’ mansarde
Pour tout logement
Avec des lézardes
Sur le firmament
Je l’savais par cœur depuis
Et pour un baiser la course
J’emmenais mes bell’ de nuit
Faire un tour sur la Grande Ourse

I used to have an attic room
As my only lodgings
With cracks wide open
Onto the firmament
I knew it by heart in the end
And, at the rate of a kiss per run
I’d take my ladies of the night
On trips round the Plough

J’habit’ plus d’mansarde
Il peut désormais
Tomber des hall’bardes
Je m’en bats l’œil mais
Mais si quelqu’un monte aux cieux
Moins que moi j’y paie des prunes
Y a cent sept ans qui dit mieux
Qu’j’ai pas vu la lune !

I no longer live in an attic
It might from now on
Rain cats and dogs
I don’t give a damn
But if someone makes it to heaven
Less often than I do, he can have all I haven’t got
Any other offers? It’s been many moons
Since I last saw one on display

Refrain | Chorus

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