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Fallen for France Posted by on Sep 28, 2021 in Culture, Idioms, Language, Music

Once again, the calendar has turned towards l’automne1fall. Days are getting cooler (and shorter!) and soon les feuilles vont commencer à tomber des arbres2the leaves will begin falling from the trees. Before we leave l’été3summer completely behind though, let’s revisit one more great summer song.

[cc0] Sergey Katyshkin https://www.pexels.com/fr-fr/photo/lumineux-mode-rouge-gens-6978613/

Fallen for France

I’ve said it before, Étienne Daho’s Tombé pour la France is “the first French song I fell in love with, and it’s still one of my favorites”. And now 36 years later, it is still a perennial summer favorite en boîte. I actually can’t believe that in 5 years of blogging for Transparent language, I haven’t given it more than one mention!

The things you learn! I had no idea until I started researching this post that Étienne Daho was 31 years old in 1985 when “la France tombe définitivement pour Daho, […]  Tombé pour la France et sa version maxi enflamment les dance floors, [… et] sa première tournée se joue à guichets fermés4France falls completely for Daho, Tombé pour la France and it’s maxi remix burn up the dance floor, and his first tour is sold out (lit. plays to closed ticket counters).

Be-bop, pieds nus sous la lune, sans foi ni toit ni fortune Be-bop, barefoot beneath the moon, without faith/hopeor a roof or luck
Je passe mon temps à faire n’importe quoi I spend my time goofing off
Sur les pistes, noires de préférence On the dance floor, preferably dark
Quand le démon de la danse me prend le corps, When the demon of dance takes me,
Je fais n’importe quoi I get silly
Tout va bien It’s all good
Sur un jerk électronique, se nouent des amours ludiques Dancing to electric pop, crushes form
Be-bop, la vie c’est n’importe quoi Be-bop live is ridiculous
C’est la fête It’s a party
C’est psychédélique, me demande pas c’que j’fabrique It’s psychedelic, I ask myself what I’m doing
Je te répondrais n’importe quoi I would answer nonsense
J’en sais rien I have no clue
Dum-di-là, je m’étourdis, ça ne suffit pas Dum-Di-la, I make myself dizzy, that’s not enough
À m’faire oublier que t’es plus là To make me forget that your not here
J’ai gardé cette photo sur moi, I kept that picture with me,
Ce photomaton que t’aimais pas The photo booth picture that you didn’t like
Si tu r’viens n’attends pas If you come back don’t expect
qu’au bout d’une corde mon corps balance To find me hanging from a rope
Be-bop, pieds nus sous la lune, Be-bop, barefoot beneath the moon,
sans foi ni toi ni personne Without faith, without you or anyone else
Je crois bien que j’f’rais n’importe quoi I think I really might do anything
Pour te voir To see you
Cinq minutes encore Five minutes more
à Sables d’or près des dunes A The Golden Sands near the dunes
Je te raconterai n’importe quoi I would tell you anything
Ce sera bien It would be good
Dum-di-là, je m’étourdis ça ne suffit pas Dum-Di-la, I make myself dizzy, that’s not enough
À m’faire oublier que t’es plus là  To make me forget that your not here
J’ai gardé cette photo sur moi, I kept that picture with me,
Ce photomaton que t’aimais pas The photo booth picture that you didn’t like
Si tu r’viens n’attends pas If you come back don’t expect
que je sois tombé pour la France That I’ve died in the name of France
[Refrain jusqu’à la fin … ] [Chorus to the end …]

Tombé pour la France’ (ainsi que ‘tombé pour la patrie’ et ‘mort pour la France’) are expressions that come from death in battle. Soldiers (des soldats) who lost their lives and didn’t come home after war are said to have fallen for or died for their country (la patrie). In the context of this song, once could imagine a guy telling his petite amie5or copine; girlfriend that she shouldn’t expect to find that he’s run off to join the French Foreign Legion (in hopes of dying in battle!) over her.

What a legacy

I love the absolute 80’s-ness of the video for this song. In the early days of video TV, this (and this6Anyone recognize the gold bustier that lead singer Catherine Ringer wears in a few scenes in this video? If you know, tell me more in the comments. and this) captured a certain je ne sais quoi of French pop culture.

And now all these years later, contemporary artist are celebrating this great song. In the last few days I’ve discovered not une, not deux, but trois great reprises (covers). What about you? Which do you like the best? The classic … or one of these remakes? Let me know in the comments!

Here and Now – More useful French expressions

  • 1
    fall
  • 2
    the leaves will begin falling from the trees
  • 3
    summer
  • 4
    France falls completely for Daho, Tombé pour la France and it’s maxi remix burn up the dance floor, and his first tour is sold out (lit. plays to closed ticket counters)
  • 5
    or copine; girlfriend
  • 6
    Anyone recognize the gold bustier that lead singer Catherine Ringer wears in a few scenes in this video? If you know, tell me more in the comments.
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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris


Comments:

  1. Louise:

    Nazca! Tho his original was great, they can’t be beat.

    • Tim Hildreth:

      @Louise I liked that one too… even if I will always love the orignal! Merci!


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