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Folk, France, French (Français)

“Je t’aimais, je t’aime, je t’aimerais” (Francis Cabrel)

Je t’aimais, je t’aime, je t’aimerai on Youtube

“Je t’aimais, je t’aime, je t’aimerai”
Francis Cabrel
Samedi soir sur la Terre (1994)

Mon enfant, nue sur les galets,
Le vent dans tes cheveux défaits,
Comme un printemps sur mon trajet,
Un diamant tombé d’un coffret.

Seule la lumière pourrait défaire nos repères secrets
Où mes doigts pris sur tes poignets,
Je t’aimais, je t’aime et je t’aimerai

Quoi que tu fasses, l’amour est partout ou tu regardes
Dans les moindres recoins de l’espace,
Dans le moindre rêve ou tu t’attardes
L’amour, comme s’il en pleuvait,
Nu sur les galets

Le ciel prétend qu’il te connait
Il est si beau c’est sûrement vrai.
Lui qui s’approche jamais
Je l’ai vu pris dans tes filets.

Le monde a tellement de regrets
Tellement de choses qu’on promet.
Une seule pour laquelle je suis fait
Je t’aimais, je t’aime et je t’aimerai

On s’envolera du même quai
Les yeux dans les mêmes reflets,
Pour cette vie et celle d’après
Tu seras mon unique projet.

Je m’en irai poser tes portraits
A tous les plafonds de tous les palais,
Sur tous les murs que je trouverai
Et juste en-dessous j’écrirai

Que seule la lumière pourrait
Et mes doigts pris sur tes poignets,
Je t’aimais, je t’aime et je t’aimerai

“I loved you, I love you, I will love you”
(English Translation, ORS 2010)

My child, naked on the pebbles,
The wind in your ruffled hair
Lke a springtime in my journey,
A diamond fallen from a box

Only the light could reveal our secret spots,
Where my fingers were placed on your wrist
I loved you, I love you and I will love you

And whatever you do, love is everywhere you look
In the smallest corners in space
In the simplest dream where you linger
Love, as if it were raining
Naked on the pebbles 

The sky claims to know you,
It is so beautiful it is surely so
He who never approaches,
I have seen him enmeshed in your threads 

The world has so many regrets,
So many things that we promise
Only one for which I have been made
I loved you, I love you and I will love you 

We’ll fly off of the very platform
Our eyes on our own reflections
For this life and the one after,
You will my sole purpose 

I will go to hang your portraits
On all the ceilings of all the palaces
On all the walls that I find
And just below I will write 

That only the light could reveal our secret spots
And where my fingers were on your wrist
I loved you, I love you and I will love you

Vocabulary and Etymology
1.  le galet – pebble
2.  le coffret – a box, decorated jewelry box; from Latin cophinus and Greek κόφινος “basket”; origin of English coffer (chest or box for valuables)
3.  le repère – location, place, spot, landmark; related to verb repèrer (to locate) and reflexive verb se repèrer (to get one’s bearing)
4.  prétendre – pretend, claim, intend; from Latin praetendere (to stretch out in front of)
5.  le filet – thread; from Latin filum (thread, string, filament); related to le fil, Italian il filo, Portuguese o fio, Spanish el hilo, fil@
6.  se envolerer (de) – to fly (off), take off; from Latin volare (to fly), and related to voler, Italian volare, Spanish volar, Portuguese voar
7.  le quai – platform, dock, quay; also in Portuguese o cais
 

Grammar

1.  “No matter what” – Subjunctive Mood 
    The subjunctive mood is used to express things like wishes, doubts, uncertainty, etc.  There is only one example in this song:  “Quoi que tu fasses” (Whatever/no matter what you do).  The root of the subjunctive of irregular verb faire (to do) is fass, giving us the subjunctive tu fasses (you do).  In the other major Romance languages, a similar pattern is used:

Italian: Qualunque cosa tu faccia/Qualsiasi cosa tu faccia
Spanish: Hagas lo que hagas/No importa lo que hagas
Portuguese: Faça o que faça/Não importa o que faça

*In other languages, the form is different:
German: (Egal) was du auch machst. 
Japanese: 何をするにしても (nani wo suru ni shitemo)
       何をしようとも (nani wo shiyou tomo)

2.  En
In French, en is a pronoun which means “any/some of” something, for example:
       Il y a du café.  Vous en voulez?  There is (some) coffee.  You want some?

Here are some examples from this song:

1.  comme s’il en pleuvait (en may refer to
2.  je m’en irai poser tes portraits (en reinforces portraits)
3.  juste en-dessous j’écrirai (en refers to the walls)
The way I think of it, en corresponds to the preposition de (of).  So whenever you wish to replace the pattern A de B (where B is any noun, and A is a noun, adjective, or verb), you can use en.   For example,

a) avoir besoin de l’argent (to have need for money) -> en avoir besoin (to need it);

b) être capable de faire (to be capable of doing) -> en être capable (to be capable of doing it);
c) venir de la poste (come from the post office)  -> en venir (to come from there)

3.  Past, Present, Future Tenses
The message of a love existing in the past, present, and future is embodied not only in the verbs of the title “I loved you, I love you, I will love you”, but also in the timeline of the story within the song itself.

1st verse (Past): seule la lumière pourrait défaire nos repères secrets (only the light could uncover our secret spots)

2nd verse (Present): Le ciel prétend qu’il te connait (The sky claims that it knows you); Le monde a tellement de regrets (The world has so many regrets)

3rd verse (Future) : On s’envolera du même quai (We will fly off of the platform); Tu seras mon unique projet (You will be my only project); Je m’en irai poser tes portaits (I will go to hang up your portraits); J’ecrirai…(I will write…)

Guitar Chords:
Verses: G D C Em
Chorus: C Am D D (2x) C Em

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About Tommy McDonald

International MBA student

Discussion

13 thoughts on ““Je t’aimais, je t’aime, je t’aimerais” (Francis Cabrel)

  1. Would you by any chance know who the author (Cabrel )was talking about? Was it his daughter/son/ . . . I love this song so much but sometimes I am torn for I don’t know the story behind it.

    Thanks

    Posted by Janvier | June 14, 2010, 6:05 pm
    • Janvier, thank you for checking out the site and leaving a comment. You have reminded me of the need to give consideration to the life of the author in making these translations, even if mainly for language learning purposes.

      Unfortunately I do not know enough about Cabrel’s biography to make a proper guess as to who he is singing about. Looking on Wikipedia, though, I see that he is married with two daughters.

      If we go to the original lyrics, there are also clues which let us judge that the subject is indeed female.

      In the first stanza, “mon enfant” can refer to either a male or female “child”, but the subsequent adjective “nue” is the feminine form of the word “nude” (masculine form would be “nu”). In the next line, he refers to “tes cheveux défaits”, which is something like “ruffled/tousled/undone hair”, typically in reference to the long hair of a female.

      I hope this helps a little bit, for now.

      Tommy

      Posted by foreignlanguagemusic | June 15, 2010, 12:20 am
  2. Hello all,

    In many cases, french songs tend to make words in rhyme so that sometimes not all words correspond to something in reality or to a coherent story.

    It’s just my opinion.

    Posted by hendra grandis | October 15, 2010, 7:04 am
    • Thanks for checking out the site. Your opinion is very welcome!

      Yes, this happens in a lot of songs in every language, I imagine. I try to translate for the purpose of providing just a rough reference for the pieces of vocabulary and grammar, so I admit I don’t give much consideration to the big picture. It is thin ice, perhaps, but at the end, I’d like people to look at only the original lyrics and decide for themselves the meaning of the song via the words in which it was written.

      Posted by foreignlanguagemusic | October 15, 2010, 7:30 am
  3. The study of words is limited. The power of this song is that it speaks directly to the heart in a language that only the heart understands. To me, the power and beauty of this song has not diminished in fact has even more intriqued by the fact that it has taken me years to discover what the words actually mean.

    In a sense, forgive me, but I find discussion of this song sacriledge upon the sacred.

    Posted by Laura Margaret | March 16, 2011, 1:07 pm
    • Dear Laura,

      I appreciate your comment. Music and lyrics indeed operate on a level that cannot be fully understood by reduction. The purpose of this site, however, is to focus on the parts of the lyrics that can be used to better learn the original language of composition. My supposition is that it is via this lens that the open mind and heart have better access to the discovery of, as you say, “what the words actually mean.”

      Posted by orangeroomstudios | March 17, 2011, 12:46 pm
  4. Dear orangeroomstudios (sorry I don’t know your name!)

    Thank you for this conversation about a song that is worthy of much attention. I was wondering if you could expand on what you mean by ‘the original language of composition.’ And I am also curious about the purpose of this website. Could you expand a bit on why you feel this effort towards integrating foriegn language music is important.
    Thanks,
    Laura Margaret

    Posted by Laura Margaret | September 9, 2011, 9:52 pm
    • Dear Laura,

      By original language of composition, I only mean the language in which the author originally wrote the work (French, in this case) as opposed to a translation. There is more information on the “On Foreign Language and Music” section, but the purpose of this website is to link foreign language learning and world music, or more specifically to help people to learn foreign languages through popular songs by focusing on the original lyrics as they were written. I do provide rough English translations, but only as a back-up as, ideally, people should learn the original lyrics “by heart” rather than simply understand the meaning of the song.
      This could be a very useful resource for students of foreign languages, world music, or interdisciplinary studies. Often these interests in language and music go hand-in-hand: people interested in a foreign language or culture may like the music of that culture, or people interested in world music may end up learning the lyrics of catchy songs in foreign languages without even studying! So my main goal with this website is just to continue to collect and analyze foreign language pop songs so people like me can learn in a more fun and effective way!
      Thanks for following up.
      Tommy

      Posted by orangeroomstudios | September 9, 2011, 11:33 pm
  5. Thank you for this well-considered translation of an incredibly beautiful song.

    Posted by DoloJo | April 19, 2012, 2:16 pm
  6. If you are still wondering who Francis wrote this song for, it was for his daughter, hence the title. He loved her before she was born, loves her at birth and will love her for the rest of his life.

    Posted by Christophe Juillot | October 28, 2012, 3:07 am
  7. Wow! I always thought it was a love song. Thank you Christophe Juillot. And thank you orangeroomstudios for posting this translation!

    Posted by Preston Wallace | February 7, 2014, 7:16 am
  8. This is a fantastic song for students studying the future tense. So touching.

    Posted by Madame Miller | March 18, 2014, 1:11 pm

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  1. Pingback: “Fais ce que tu voudras” (Céline Dion) « Foreign Language Music - April 17, 2010

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