Song Lyric Sunday (5 January 2020) – La (a note to follow So)

Last week, Jim Adams (NewEpicAuthor, A Unique Title For Me) set a theme of crazy (my choice). This week, just the one-word theme of la.

When I first saw Jim’s prompt, the very first thing I thought was, “the what?” And, “why is he speaking French to me?” Okay, I read on and his prompt became clear, but just to stick with my first impression, I shall respond in kind.

In English, we have he, she or it, the rules for which follow how gender-specific something is. I guess something like 99% is just it. In French, however, there is only the concept of masculine and feminine – he or she. Inanimate objects are assigned a gender, which, believe me, is not always obvious! la is just the feminine equivalent of the.

So words like the sea (la mer) have a gender – who’d have thought that the sea was feminine? But obvious to any French-speaker.

I have what you might call an oldie today. In fact the songwriter (and singer) Charles Trenet, was born in 1913, started performing in the early Thirties, and was active almost until his death in 2001, aged a ripe old 87.

As the story goes, Trenet wrote the words to La Mer as a teenager. The tune came years later, when he was an established artist, while travelling by train between Montpellier and Perpignan in wartime, Vichy France. The tune came to him as he was passing the Bassin de Thau, a lagoon on the southern coast. I’ve holidayed there and….think oysters (and, of course, wine)!

Released way back at the end of the war, there have been many cover versions of this song over the years, but for my money, the original is the best. Once again, I include the lyrics and their translation below:

La mer
qu’on voit danser le long des golfes clairs
a des reflets d’argent,
la mer,
des reflets changeants
sous la pluie.
La mer
au ciel d’été confond
ses blancs moutons
avec les anges si purs,
la mer bergère d’azur
près des étangs,
ces grands roseaux mouillés.
ces oiseaux blancs
et ces maisons rouillées.
La mer
les a bercés
le long des golfes clairs
et d’une chanson d’amour,
la mer
a bercé mon cœur pour la vie.
The sea
We see dancing along the shores of clear bays,
Shimmers with silver
The sea
Changing shimmers
Under the rain
The sea
With the summer sky
Mix up her white horses
With the angels so pure
The infinite azure shepherdess
By the ponds
Those big wet reeds
Those white birds
And those rusty houses
The sea
Has cradled them
Along the shores of clear bays
And with a love song
The sea
Has rocked my heart for life
Charles Trenet

Incidentally, while I’m on the subject of Trenet, La Mer is not my favourite song of his. If you can take any more, I also present Boum! (whose lyrics and translation can be found here). I guess that song also fits in with the prompt, just because la appears in the lyrics.


      • So true – I definitely turn to music to comfort and uplift me. There’s also music I avoid if I’m not feeling great. I’ve always been affected by it and struggle to understand those that aren’t 🤔

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        • It is weird because when I decided to do my Tick Tock posts I originally thought that it might be anything, but in fact 90% has been music. I have one of two bits of tv, a painter, but mostly music. If I’m feeling sombre I sometimes listen to sad music to complement my mood. One of my favourite’s is Fauré’s Requiem Mass. As you can imagine a funeral mass is not a laugh-a-minute. I think SLS has to be quite light.

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  1. Spanish has two different words for “the”, a feminine which is “la” and a masculine which is “el”. Thanks for adding the second Charles Trenet song as I did like that better, but they are both nice. I wonder what that song Boum! is about.


    • Yep, I almost presented La Bamba but figured that one of you Americans might present it, and after last week I wanted to try and do something unique. I can’t really make a meaning out from Boum! I hear the words, but they don’t really make sense to me. But I do like it just as a song, though.


      • I would prefer Matinique too! Particularly today with our -20C temperatures. Quebec City is beautiful though. It is the most European looking city we have in terms of having many ‘old’ buildings here. Though not very old by UK standards!

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        • When I was in the USA, that was my biggest miss. Of the parts of the USA I saw, my favourites were Ybor, in Tampa, heavy with Spanish influence, and Manhattan, again I guess because it has the compactness of a European city.


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