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Stacey Kent’s: “Les Eaux de Mars” (French cover of Antônio Carlos Jobim’s “The Waters of March”) Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 in Music

As the month of March draws to a close, I am reminded of the beautiful Brazilian song “Águas de Março” (in English: “The Waters of March”), written and recorded by Antônio Carlos Jobim in 1973. The song is about Brazil’s rainiest month and each, disparate image in the song revolves around the central metaphor of the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere and the march toward winter.

You might be asking: But isn’t this a French blog, not a Brazilian Portuguese blog?

Well, yes. Today we will be going over Stacey Kent’s cover of this iconic song, “Les Eaux de Mars,” from her wonderful album Raconte-moi…

Stacey Kent is an American jazz singer, whose Russian father lived in Paris and who taught her a love of the French language as a young girl. In an interview with NPR, Kent stated, “My grandfather was a Russian immigrant who lived in Europe, in France, for many years before he eventually came to the United States. And he never really felt quite settled in the USA and he didn’t feel Russian. He really felt himself a Frenchman. And what started as a selfish motivation, which really was to share his love of French poetry and French culture with me, really turned out to be a huge gift.” Kent remembers her grandfather reading Charles Baudelaire’s “Beau de l’aire” to her when she was a young girl.

Raconte-moi… is a beautiful Francophone album, composed of Kent’s own songs, as well as French covers of iconic songs. Kent’s own family history, and the many cultures that have influenced her life, make this album a perfect showcase of her love of the French language and the diversity of French culture. I highly recommend listening to the whole album (plus, Kent’s pronunciation is spot-on and very helpful for students who are learning French phonetics!).

Here are the lyrics to “Les Eaux de Mars”:

Un pas, une pierre, un chemin qui chemine
Un reste de racine, c’est un peu solitaire
C’est un éclat de verre, c’est la vie, le soleil
C’est la mort, le sommeil, c’est un piège entrouvert
Un arbre millnaire, un nud dans le bois
C’est un chien qui aboie, c’est un oiseau dans l’air
C’est un tronc qui pourrit, c’est la neige qui fond
Le mystère profond, la promesse de vie
C’est le souffle du vent au sommet des collines
C’est une vieille ruine, le vide, le nant
C’est la pie qui jacasse, c’est l’averse qui verse
Des torrents d’allgresse, ce sont les eaux de Mars
C’est le pied qui avance pas sur, pas lent
C’est la main qui se tend, c’est la pierre qu’on lance
C’est un trou dans la terre, un chemin qui chemine
Un reste de racine, c’est un peu solitaire
C’est un oiseau dans l’air, un oiseau qui se pose
Le jardin qu’on arrose, une source d’eau claire
Une charde, un clou, c’est la fièvre qui monte
C’est un compte bon compte, c’est un peu rien du tout
Un poisson, un geste, c’est comme du vif argent
C’est tout ce qu’on attend, c’est tout ce qui nous reste
C’est du bois, c’est un jour le bout du quai
Un alcool trafique, le chemin le plus court
C’est le cri d’un hibou, un corps ensommeill
La voiture rouille, c’est la boue, c’est la boue
Un pas, un pont, un crapaud qui croasse
C’est un chaland qui passe, c’est un bel horizon
C’est la saison des pluies, c’est la fonte des glaces
Ce sont les eaux de Mars, la promesse de vie
Une pierre, un baton, c’est Joseph et c’est Jacques
Un serpent qui attaque, une entaille au talon
Un pas, une pierre, un chemin qui chemine
Un reste de racine, c’est un peu solitaire
Un pas, une bousse, une tache, un coup, un geste, une aiguille, une
C’est l’hiver qui s’efface, la fin d’une saison
C’est la neige qui fond, ce sont les eaux de Mars
La promesse de vie, le mystère profond
Ce sont les eaux de Mars dans ton cur tout au fond
Un pas, une pierre, un chemin qui chemine
Un reste de racine, c’est un peu solitaire
C’est l’hiver qui s’efface, la fin d’une saison
C’est la neige qui fond, ce sont les eaux de Mars
La promesse de vie, le mystère profond

“The Waters of March”:

A stick, a stone, it’s the end of the road
It’s the rest of a stump, it’s a little alone
It’s a sliver of glass, it is life, it’s the sun
It is night, it is death, it’s a trap, it’s a gun

The oak when it blooms, a fox in the brush
The knot in the wood, the song of a thrush
The will of the wind, a cliff, a fall
A scratch, a lump, it is nothing at all

It’s the wind blowing free, it’s the end of the slope
It’s a beam, it’s a void, it’s a hunch, it’s a hope
And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It’s the end of the strain, it’s the joy in your heart

The foot, the ground, the flesh and the bone
The beat of the road, a slingshot’s stone
A fish, a flash, a silvery glow
A fight, a bet, the range of a bow

The bed of the well, the end of the line
The dismay in the face, it’s a loss, it’s a find
A spear, a spike, a point, a nail
A drip, a drop, the end of the tale

A truckload of bricks in the soft morning light
The sound of a shot in the dead of the night
A mile, a must, a thrust, a bump,
It’s a girl, it’s a rhyme, it’s a cold, it’s the mumps

The plan of the house, the body in bed
And the car that got stuck, it’s the mud, it’s the mud
A float, a drift, a flight, a wing
A hawk, a quail, the promise of spring

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It’s the promise of life, it’s the joy in your heart

A snake, a stick, it is John, it is Joe
It’s a thorn on your hand and a cut in your toe
A point, a grain, a bee, a bite
A blink, a buzzard, a sudden stroke of night

A pass in the mountains, a horse and a mule
In the distance the shelves rode three shadows of blue

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It’s the promise of life in your heart, in your heart

A stick, a stone, the end of the road
The rest of a stump, a lonesome road
A sliver of glass, a life, the sun
A knife, a death, the end of the run

And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It’s the end of all strain, it’s the joy in your heart

**Notice that the translation is not always literal, but that it manages to keep most of the rhyme scheme intact.**

And I can’t resist sharing another version of this wonderful song: Here is a covers sung by the iconic French singer Georges Moustaki, who passed away in 2013:

 

 

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About the Author: Elizabeth Schmermund

Bonjour tout le monde! I'm a freelance writer, doctoral student, mom, and Francophile. I'm excited to share some of my experiences living in France, as well as the cultural nuances that I've learned being married to a Frenchman, with all of you. To find out more about me, feel free to check out my website at http://www.imaginistwriter.com. A la prochaine!


Comments:

  1. Lynn:

    Thanks for this, Elizabeth. I’m trying to learn this song. Merde! Working from my iphone right now. Will visit your website soon. ls