Special Sub-Topic: Vive La Chanson
|Dans 'Au Clair de la Lune' qu'est-ce qu'on demande d'emprunter a Pierrot?|
Sa plume. This song was composed by Jean-Baptiste Lulli, born in Florence in 1632, but who created the French style opera as well. 'Prete-moi ta plume, pour l'amour de Dieu'. Emprunter = borrow. Preter= in this sense, 'loan me your pen'
|La mère Michel a perdu quel animal?|
Son chat. This song has been popular since 1820 but the melody was common in the 17th century in the army of Louis XIV. 'Le pere Lustucru qui lui a repondu' gave a name to a famous brand of pasta.
"C'est la mère Michel qui a perdu son chat".
|'Gentil coquelicot mesdames, j'ai descendu dans mon jardin pour y ceuillir du ________?|
romarin. This comes from the Tourraine area and the reign of Louis XV. Word has it that there is an erotic connotation with the 'rossignol' traipsing around on the young lady's hand and whispering into her ear about all the young men being no good. "J'ai descendu" is the older form of descendre. "Je suis descendu" is the modern form. Otherwise, you can use avoir if there is an object you're descending, thus: "J'ai descendu les escaliers en courant".
|'Savez-vous planter des ________a la mode de chez nous?'|
choux. The classic 'Savez-vous planter des choux a la mode, a la mode?' Mais, "On les plante sur les genoux, a la mode, a la mode".
In French you'll hear "planter un clou" for hammering in a nail.
Cabbage is a highly nutritious plant and part of the staple diet of many people.
|Il était une bergère_____________, il était une bergère qui gardait ses moutons? Qu'est-ce qui manque?|
et ron et ron petit patapon. The little round came from Marie-Antoinette playing shepherdess and was sung in court more than by actual shepherds.
|Il pleut, il pleut, bergère, rentre tes blancs moutons, allons où?|
a ma chaumière. This song was written by Philippe Fabre d'Eglantine born in Carcassonne in 1750 and who died on the scaffold in 1794. He was the author of the Republican calendar (see my quiz on symbols of the French revolution for more on this subject).
Une chaumière is something like a hut or cottage. This song is something that many French will begin singing when it starts raining.
|Le bon roi Dagobert avait mis quel vêtement à l'envers ? |
Sa culotte. Dagobert 1er was born in 602 and died in 638. He was not a war monger but was forced to fight against the Slaves, the Basques, the Bretons and the Bulgarians. His minister was Saint Eloi, "Le grand saint Eloi lui dit, "oh mon Roi, votre Majesté est mal culottée". The song itself was done much later, popularised in 1814 and forbidden by Napoleon 1er as it mocked him. The culotte part never fails to make a group of kids crack up as a man wearing a culotte is unfamiliar to them, the term being used for women's undies now. But a King wearing underwear backwards? That's a crowd pleaser!
|Colchiques dans les près, _________________ ?
fleurissent fleurissent. This lovely song by Francine Cockenpot is actually fairly recent. These are crocus flowers that grow in the autumn.
The other verse is "chataignes dans le bois se fendent". Which means 'chestnuts crack open'.
|Chevaliers de la Table Ronde, que faisons-nous?|
Goûtons voir si le vin est bon. This is my favorite drinking song, though it scandalized a few parents when I did in American pre-schools with juice. What self-respecting child could resist this refrain while swinging a cup of juice? "Goutons voir oui oui oui, goutons voir non non non, goutons voir si le vin est bon." The most effective way is to sing with a big deep voice for the non, and a tiny lady's voice for the oui. We would have to skip my favorite verse though, « si je meure je veux qu'on m'enterre, dans une cave où il y a du bon vin, les deux pieds contre la muraille, et la tête sous le robinet ». Translation, if I die I'd like to be buried in a cellar where there is good wine, my feet against the wall and my head beneath the spigot. This song doesn't date back to the days of the round table but instead to the nineteenth century.
|Par où passerais-je avec mes sabots dondaine?
Par la Lorraine. « En passant par la Lorraine avec mes sabots, rencontrai trois capitaines avec mes sabots dondaine, oh oh oh, avec mes sabots. » Typical shepherdess meets handsome captain song. He wins her heart with a verveine (verbena) flower.
|Dans les jardins de mon père, où les lilas sont fleuris, où fait-il bon dormir?
Auprès de ma blonde. Despite the fact that this marching song is heard more in Canada now, and the Canadians even adopted the term « ma blonde » for their girlfriends, it is quite old, dating back to the Thirty year war that Louis XIII and Richelieu waged against Austria from 1635 on.
The first verse after the lilacs is "tous les oiseaux du monde vienn't y faire leur nids. »
|Ainsi font font font les petites marionnettes, trois petits tours et puis ?|
elles s'en vont. This is one of the basic songs for babies, to get them to turn their little hands like puppets. Also they particularly love the puppets disappearing. In the 15th century when it began, it was demoiselles rather than puppets. La claquette is tap dancing. Cabriole is a somersault.
|J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière, et? |
tu n'en auras pas. This song is attributed to the Abby Gabriel Charles de l'Atteignant born in 1697.
I suppose with the current anti smoking measures, this song might be useful these days.
"j'en ai du fin et du bien rape, mais il n'est pas pour ton vilain nez."
|D'où revenaient les trois jeunes tambours ?|
De la guerre. This song came from around 1760, Louis XV's armies. "trois jeune tambours s'en revenaient de la guerre".
|Pourquoi n'irions-nous plus au bois ? |
Les lauriers sont coupés. In 1750 Bois de Boulogne on the outskirts of in Paris people met here, except of course when the laurel hedges were cut down which left them exposed ! They still do meet here, however it's a bit of a different crowd.
|Frère Jacques Frère Jacques, dormez-vous dormez-vous, sonnez les matines sonnez les matines, din dan don din dan don. Frère Jacques est____________?|
un moine. Now that one was easy, wasn't it?
|"Il était un petit navire. Il était un petit navire, qui n'avait ja ja jamais______________?"|
navigué. THis is another classic French song which dates way back to a Portuguese sailors' version of a ship that is lost. This one ends up tragically, and the ship becomes a phantom vessel. It was known as early as the fifteenth century but the current version dates to mid nineteenth. At one point when they are starving, they draw straws to see who is to be eaten!
|Cadet Rousselle a combien de maisons? |
trois, qui n'ont ni poutres ni chevrons. This one was another military song, from 1780 and was sung by soldiers in the first republic. Cadet Rousselle had a rather interesting menage.
|Qu'est-ce qui passe ici si tard?_____________________?|
Compagnons de la Marjolaine. The Chevalier watchmen would patrol Paris and this was a halt who goes there song.
|"Allons enfants de la patrie, le jour de gloire est arrive". Which song does this come from ?
La Marseillaise. Written on April 24 1792 by Claude-Joseph Rouget de l'Isle for the news of declaration of war against the Austrians by the brand new French Republic in Strasbourg. Its title was actually "Chant de guerre de l'armée du Rhin" and was an immediate success. As it was sung in Marseille shortly afterwards, then copied and distributed to the troops on their way to Paris, it became known as the Marseillaise and eventually became the French National anthem. Recently there was a move to modify the rather bloody words, but it was not successful. You'll witness the impossibility of singing it properly at football matches by football players and few actually know much more than the first verse if at all.
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction