Thursday, April 29, 2010


Words: Alain Bashung/Jean Fauque
Music: Alain Bashung

Please read my notes on the word "api" below.

D'heure en heure
From hour to hour
L'apiculteur se meurt
The beekeeper is dying
Il a eu son heure
He has had his hour
Il a fait son beurre
He has made his butter
Api* apiculteur
Bee beekeeper

D'heure en heure
From hour to hour
L'apiculteur effleure
The beekeeper lightly touches
La fin du labeur
The end of his labor
Api apiculteur
Bee beekeeper

Dans une autre vie
In another life
Les marguerites s'effeuillent au ralenti
The daisies are blooming in slow motion
Personne n'est vainqueur
No one is the victor
Les proies les prédateurs
The prey the predators
Savourent le nectar
Savor the nectar
D'une pomme d'api
Of a lady apple
Api apiculteur
Bee beekeeper

L'heure c'est l'heure
The hour it's the hour
On n'est pas d'humeur
No one's in the mood
A verser des pleurs
To shed tears
Fières ont les ouvrières
Proud are the laborers
Le jour en tailleur
The day cross-legged
Le soir en guêpière
The night in a trap
Quand la mort vous susurre
When death whispers to you
Des serments veloutés
Velvet sermons
Que rien n'est moins sûr
That nothing is less certain
N'aura plus d'importance
Nor will be more important
Ni la chaleur
Neither the warmth
Ni les piqûres
Nor the stings
Api apiculteur
Bee beekeeper
Api apiculteur
Bee beekeeper

D'heure en heure
From hour to hour
L'apiculteur se meurt
The beekeeper is dying
Trouve l'interrupteur
Find the light switch
Une oasis
An oasis
Aux allées bordées d'épagneuls
At the paths edged with spaniels
Que la splendeur n'effraie plus
May the splendor not alarm you
Api apiculteur
Bee beekeeper
Api apiculteur
Bee beekeeper
Api apiculteur
Bee beekeeper
(Happy) ...

*The word "api" is just loaded in the french language.  In the song, I think what we have primarily is a sound play, "api apiculteur"... Api here comes from "abeille" or bee, and thus, the English sound play "bee beekeeper" works well in the translation. Nice!

Api ou pomme d'api is also a small, crisp apple, usually colored on one side only, called lady apple. More french etymology may be found here:

Pomme d'api is also a French children's nonsense rhyme. It has come to represent childhood, and is used as the name for nursery schools, children's shoe stores, toy companies, magazines, and plenty of cd's.

Pomme d'api is an operetta by Jacques Offenbach. 

But I would like to add another possibility: "Api" is the way a French person would say"happy"...  and this is what i hear when i listen to "L'Apiculteur". I don't know if that is what Alain and Jean had in mind when they wrote it, but it adds a depth of irony to the song that is out of this world: Happy! Happy! 


Marcella said...

Hi Laura,

Very interesting all these examples...and the way you want to explaine the Bashung's work on L'Apiculteur to the English speaken people.


Laura Tattoo said...

wow, a comment! :>>)) thank you so much, marcella, just learning and sharing. i love him so much. xoxooxox

Garth said...

Hey wow - didn't realise you were doing all this... fantastic - I can see what the French mean.

Laura Tattoo said...

garth, check out bashung's album "l'imprudence" (one of the last on the indez)... all about coming to terms with dying. the most innovative music, i think you will love. xoxo

Anonymous said...

I wish to thank you for your interpretation. I have searched for the translation many times.I love bashung..

RockGlobally said...

Hi Laura,

Thank you for your ongoing translation project - what a beautiful tribute to Bashung: the musical bee keeper, his artistic efforts, and his the rich legacy he's left for us.

Laura Tattoo said...

merci, rockglobally dahlink. tu es merveilleuse. :>>)) xoxoxoxoox