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French Music – Bénabar Posted by on May 8, 2018 in Culture, Music, Vocabulary

I discovered a new French singer this week who I’m excited to share with you. I had never heard of Bénabar despite the fact that his career spans more than 20 years! Le début de la suite (The beginning of the next phase)* is his eighth studio album and features songs that are almost little short stories providing glimpses into the lives of everyday French people.

By Monsoleiiil - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8355542

Bénabar himself said in an interview with the French television show C à Vous: “Moi, je me suis toujours intéressé plutôt aux deuxièmes roles, aux figurants; comme si on faisait un film en retirant les heroes.” (Me, I am always interested in the background characters, the bit parts; as if you were making a movie taking out the heroes.) The video below takes us into the world of une vendeuse (a sales associate or shop girl) at the Parisian department store Les Galleries Lafayette.

Listening Practice Tip: Did you know that YouTube allows you to slow down the playback of videos? If you click the settings button you can choose to play any video back at 3/4 or 1/2 (or even 1/4!) speed. It’s a handy way to build up your ability to understand at full speed.
Une vendeuse en pause A sales girl on break
Allume, morose, sa deuxième cigarette  Lights, bleak-ly, her second cigarette
Sur le trottoir arrière On the rear sidewalk
de la rue derrière Les Galeries Lafayette  Of the street behind the Galeries Lafayette
Elle est pas malheureuse la petite vendeuse She isn’t sad, the little salesgirl
et de loin on dirait  And from here (from far) one would say
Presque du bonheur Almost happy
quand l’antidépresseur fait enfin de l’effet When the antidepressant kicks in
   
Une vendeuse en pause A sales girl on break
vêtue comme impose le grand magasin  Dressed in the manner required by the store
Du côté livraison réservé camion qui déchargent au matin Out at the loading dock reserved for the trucks that unload in the morning
   
Refrain Chorus
   
Rayon maroquinerie The leathergoods department
elle attise l’envie de clientes aisées  She stirs the comfortable clients desire
Vend des jolis sacs à la mode Sells pretty, fashionable bags
et de marque qu’elle ne peut pas acheter  And brands that she cannot buy
   
Refrain Chorus
   
Elle joue son rôle She plays her role
et bien je la regarde de loin un peu dissimulé  And I watch her from afar a little hidden
Comme j’ai l’air d’un pervers Almost like a pervert
le vigile me repère je préfère m’en aller  The security guard spots me and I opt to leave
   
Refrain Chorus
   
Je laisse ma vendeuse à ses babioles coûteuse I leave my sales girl to her expensive knick-knacks
à mes souvenirs To my memories
Je l’espère heureuse I hope for her happiness
rien ne s’y oppose ça s’appelle l’avenir  Nothing really should stop it that’s called the future
Adieu ma vendeuse Farewell my sales girl
ne sois pas malheureuse je te l’interdis  Don’t be sad, I forbid it
Je voudrais te le dire mais je dois m’enfuir I would like to tell you, but I must flee
le vigile me poursuit  The security guard is after me
   
Revenu en cachette bonnet et lunettes Returned in disguise cap and glasses
mais tu n’étais plus là  But you weren’t there
Côté livraison côté rayon pas de trace de toi  Loading dock non sales counter there was no trace of you
Maintenant où es-tu Now where are you
je ne le saurai plus I won’t ever know
salaud de Cupidon  Stupid Cupid [Note: Salaud is actually quite a bit stronger than stupid.]
   
Pour te garder près de moi je t’ai mise m’en veux pas dans cette chanson (x2) To keep you close, don’t be mad at me, I put you in this song (x2)

À suivre… dans la suite! (To be continued… in the next part!)

Tune in again next week to find out où elle est allée, la petite vendeuse.

Speaking of story tellers: Have you seen the latest Google Doodle? See here for a fun introduction to French film pioneer Georges Méliès.

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* The album title is a play on words. Le début can mean the beginning, the start, or the first part. La suite is the part that comes after, and often refers to part 2 or a continuation of something.

Photo of Bénabar in concert By Monsoleiiil – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8355542

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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