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Chanson, France, French (Français)

“Les Copains D’abord” (Georges Brassens)

Country: FRANCE
Language: FRENCH (FRANÇAIS)
Genre: CHANSON

GUITAR CHORDS: Tuned down 1/2 step
D / D
E7 /  E7
G / F# F#7
Bm E7-A7 / D

“LES COPAINS D’ABORD”

Non, ce n´était pas le radeau de la Méduse, ce bateau
Qu´on se le disent au fond des ports, disent au fond des ports
Il naviguait en père peinard sur la grand-mare des canards
Et s´appelait les Copains d´abord, les Copains d’abord

Ses fluctuat nec mergitur, c´était pas d´la littérature
N´en déplaise aux jeteurs de sort, aux jeteurs de sort
Son capitaine et ses matelots n´étaient pas des enfants de salauds
Mais des amis franco de port des copains d´abord

C´étaient pas des amis de luxe, des petits Castor et Pollux
Des gens de Sodome et Gomorrhe, Sodome et Gomorrhe
C´étaient pas des amis choisis par Montaigne et La Boétie
Sur le ventre ils se tapaient fort, les copains d´abord

C´étaient pas des anges non plus, l´Évangile, ils l´avaient pas lu
Mais ils s´aimaient toutes voiles dehors, toutes voiles dehors
Jean, Pierre, Paul et compagnie, c´était leur seule litanie
Leur credo, leur Confiteor aux copains d´abord

Au moindre coup de Trafalgar, c´est l´amitié qui prenait l´quart
C´est elle qui leur montrait le nord, leur montrait le nord
Et quand ils étaient en détresse, que leurs bras lançaient des S.O.S.
On aurait dit des sémaphores, les copains d´abord

Au rendez-vous des bons copains, y avait pas souvent de lapins
Quand l´un d´entre eux manquait à bord, c´est qu´il était mort
Oui, mais jamais au grand jamais, son trou dans l´eau ne se refermait
Cent ans après, coquin de sort, il manquait encore

Des bateaux j´en ai pris beaucoup, mais le seul qui ait tenu le coup
Qui n´ait jamais viré de bord, mais viré de bord
Naviguait en père peinard sur la grand-mare des canards
Et s´appelait les Copains d´abord, les Copains d´abord

“SHIPMATES FIRST” (Original English Translation, 2013)

No, it wasn’t the raft of Medusa, this boat
Let them say that deep down in the ports
It sailed along easily on the big duck pond
And it was called Shipmates First

Its motto “fluctuat nec mergitur”, it wasn’t literature
Apologies to the wizards
Its captain and its sailors were not bastard children
But friends with free-shipping, the shipmates

They weren’t luxury friends, little Castor and Pollux
Guys of Sodom and Gomorrah
They weren’t friends chosen by Montaigne and La Boétie
They were really close with each, the shipmates

They weren’t angels either, they hadn’t read the Gospel
But they loved each other in full sail
Jean, Pierre, Paul and company, this was their only litany
Their Credo, their Confiteor to shipmates

At the slightest sign of Trafalgar, it’s friendship that took the watchkeeping
It’s that which showed them north
And when they were in distress that their arms throw S.O.S.
One would say, signals of “Shipmates First”

At the meeting of the good friends, there weren’t often stand-ups
When one of them was missing on board, it’s that he was dead
Yes, but never ever, did his hole in the water close over him
A hundred years later, wow, he was still missing

Boats, I’ve taken many, but the only one which carried on
which never veered
It sailed along easily on the big duck pond
And they called it “Shipmates First”

VOCABULARY
Les copains d’abord – literally, “Friends first”, sounds like copains de bord, “Friends on board” or “Shipmates”
Au fond de – deep down, inside, at the end of
En père peinard – literally, “easy father”, meaning calmly, indolently, taking it easy
Mare – pond, duck pond
Flucuat nec mergitur – Latin phrase meaning “it floats, doesn’t sink”; motto of the city of Paris

N’en déplaise à – with all due respect to, apologies to
Jeteur de sort – wizard
Matelot – seaman
Franco de port – free-shipping, free-delivery
De luxe – luxury, high-class
Castor et Pollux – twin brothers of Greek/Roman mythology and patron of sailors
Sodome et Gomorrhe – cities mentioned in monotheistic texts destroyed by God; symbols of vice
Montaigne – Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), French Renaissance essayist and skeptic
La Boétie – Étienne de la Boétie (1530-1563), French judge, writer, and friend of Montaigne
Taper sur le ventre – literally, “to hit on the belly”; to be friendly/familiar with
Non plus – either, neither
L’Evangile – the Gospel
toutes voiles dehors – in full sail, all sails set
Credo – statement of religious belief
Confiteor – Christian prayer of confession beginning “I confess to God Almight…and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned in thought, word, and deed”
Trafalgar – Naval battle during Napoleaonic Wars on 21 October 1805 won by British Royal Navy over the French and Spanish Navies; Cape Trafalgar is located in SW Spain
Quart – quarter; also means watch-keeping
Sémaphore – sign, traffic light
Lapin – rabbit; someone who stands you up
Jamais au grand jamais – never ever
Coquin de sort – exclamation of admiration (Wow) or disappointment (Damn); coquin means mischievous
Tenir le coup – hold on, keep going
Virer – to turn, veer

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