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Sympathetically Singing – Pink Martini In French Posted by on Oct 3, 2018 in Music

Listening to la musique française (French music) is an easy way to integrate la langue (the language) into your everyday life, even if you live outside la francophonie. Finding the right mix of les paroles (lyrics) that are easy to understand and a catchy melody is the key to making your French studies as easy as singing along to YELLE.

Image by Bruce Tuten on Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The allure of la musique française and its singers, from Stromae to les Amies Lousianaises, has inspired artists from outside la francophonie to write songs in la langue de Molière (the language of Molière, French expression to refer to “the French language”). A fun example of that is Monsieur Periné from Colombia who mainly sings en espangol (in Spanish), but who have songs en français as well.

Un autre exemple (another example) comes from un groupe (a band) originally from Oregon, Pink Martini. Several members of the band are actually French speakers or from la francophonie, but their music is not always en français. Le groupe mixes several genres and even languages to create a sound that bounces between des influences retro (retro influences) and results in calm and pleasant music that is very sympathique (nice).

La chanson (the song) we’re looking at today is also Sympatique, a fun and catchy tune that instantly creates a nostalgic feel of old Paris. La chanson has a few jeux de mots (play on words) that are hard to translate, but make understanding it en français all the more important. There are three that really stand out:

1) Les chasseurs à ma porte comme des petits soldats qui veulent me prendre.
1) The bellhops at my door like little soldiers who want to take me away.

Chasseur is the word for both hunter and bellhop, painting a rather different image of who’s waiting outside the door depending on how you hear the line.

2) Déjà j’ai connu le parfum de l’amour, un million de roses n’embaumeraient pas autant.
2) I’ve already known the scent of love, a million roses wouldn’t smell as good.

Embaumer can have the morbid meaning of “to embalm” like in English, but it can refer to scents or fragrance. The ambiguous wording of les paroles makes it easy to interpret it as either, but it’s definitely more sympathique to think of of it as a reference the lovely scent of flowers.

3) C’est magnifique être sympathique mais je ne le connais jamais.
3) It’s magnificent to be nice but I have never known it.

The word, sympathique, is itself un jeu de mots and can mean both “nice” or “invisible” giving the lyrics and le nom de la chanson (the name of the song) a double meaning.

Take a moment to listen to la tube (the hit song) and I guarantee you’ll be singing along before it’s even over!

Voici la chanson “Sympathique” avec les paroles et une traduction anglaise :

Sympathique (Je ne veux pas travailler)
Nice (I don’t want to work)

Ma chambre a la forme d’une cage,
le soleil passe son bras par la fenêtre.
Les chasseurs à ma porte
comme des petits soldats
qui veulent me prendre

My room takes the form of a cage
Arms of sunlight reaching through the window
The bellhops at my door like little soldiers
who want to take me away

Refrain :
Je ne veux pas travailler
Je ne veux pas déjeuner
Je veux seulement oublier
et puis je fume

Chorus:
I don’t want to work
I don’t want to do lunch
I just want to forget
And so I smoke

Déjà j’ai connu le parfum de l’amour
un million de roses n’embaumeraient pas autant
Maintenant une seule fleur
dans mes entourages
me rend malade

I’ve already known the scent of love
A million roses wouldn’t smell as good
But now a single flower
Makes me sick

Refrain

Chorus

Je ne suis pas fière de ça
vie qui veut me tuer
C’est magnifique être sympathique
mais je ne le connais jamais

I’m not proud of this
life that wants to kill me
It’s magnificent to be nice
but I have never known it

Refrain

Chorus

Translation from LyricsTranslate.

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About the Author: John Bauer

John Bauer is an enthusiast for all things language and travel. He currently lives in France where he's doing his Master's. John came to France four years ago knowing nothing about the language or the country, but through all the mistakes over the years, he's started figuring things out.