Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Ostende





BIG BIG thanks to Zoé Law for her excellent editing assistance: all these obscure 
places and meanings! A real mind bender for an American. :>>)) xoxoxox



Words: Alain Bashung and Jean Fauque
Music: Alain Bashuing


À Ostende¹ j'aime Gibraltar²
In Ostend I like Gibraltar
Ses rochers qui s'ingénient
Its rocks that do their utmost
À me faire du plat

To make me flat

À Ostende
In Ostend
Je tire au stand

I do target practice
Je gagne des otaries

I win sea lions

La mer se retire
The sea retires
Cache ses rouleaux

Hides its breakers
À l'ombre des digues

In the shadow of the dikes
Elle et moi on s'ennuie

She and I get bored

Nos souvenirs
Our memories
Font des îles flottantes

Make floating islands
À Ostende

In Ostend
J'ai la hantise de l'écharpe

I am haunted by the scarf
Qui s'effiloche à ton cou

That is fraying at your neck

À Ostende j'aime Epinal³
In Ostend I like the idealized
Ses ondées lacrymales

Its lacrymal waves
À l'arrivée du ferry

At the arrival of the ferry

Un soupçon de fadeur
A hint of blandness
Un rien de tragédie

A tragedic nothing
Et je pleure

And I cry
Mon collyre

My collyrium
Ma colère

My anger

Flottez hippocampes
Float, sea horses
Droits comme des i

Straight like an i (straight as an arrow)
Laissez vous porter

Let yourself be carried away
Par l'extrême obligeance

By extreme obligation

Faites fi
Say fie
De la géographie

To the geograpy
Des petits ensembles

The little outfits
Des grands amphis

The great amphitheaters

À Ostende j'aime Gibraltar
In Ostend I like Gibraltar
À Ostende
j'appréhende
In Ostende I apprehend
Les forces en présence

The presence of forces

Je paye en yens
I pay in yen
Des offrandes carabinées

The excessive offerings
À des païennes indifférentes

To indifferent pagan women
À mes palabres

To my palavers

À Ostende
In Ostend
Tout me navre

Everything breaks my heart

À Oslo j'aime Agadir⁴
In Oslo I like Agadir*
Son brouhaha 

Its brouhaha
À Java j'aime La Villette⁵
In Java I like the Villette
À l'Alma je soupire⁶

In the Alma I sigh
En Ukraine j'aime le fado

In the Ukraine I like the fado
 
À Ostende
In Ostend
Flottez hippocampes
Float, sea horses
Droits comme des i

Straight as i's (straight as an arrow)
Laissez vous porter

Let yourself be carried away
Par l'extrême obligeance

By extreme obligation

Faites fi
Say fie
De la géographie

To the geography
Des petits ensembles

The little outfits
Des grands amphis

The great amphitheaters

À Ostende j'aime Gibraltar
In Ostend I love Gibraltar
Ses rochers qui s'ingénient

Its rocks are engineered
À me faire du plat

To make me flat

La mer se retire
The sea withdraws
Cache ses rouleaux
Hides its breakers
À l'ombre des digues
In the shadow of the dikes
Elle et moi on s'ennuie

She and I get bored
Nos souvenirs
Our memories
Font des îles flottantes

Make floating islands
 
À Ostende
In Ostend
J'ai la hantise de l'écharpe

I'm haunted by the scarf
Qui s'effiloche à ton cou

that is fraying at your neck 



¹ Ostende - Belgian resort town in which to see and be seen, where Flemish is the principal language. The country of Belgium has an historical struggle betwen Flemish and French speakers, and Ostend is Flemish. Bashung doesn't appear to be having a good time in Ostend.

² Gibraltar - A British colony, located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula and Europe at the entrance of the Mediterranean. Metaphorically, Gibraltar has its big Rock, but Ostend does not make the narrator feel flattened. He'd rather be elsewhere in every verse of the song. (Thank you to Zoé for helping me with this insight!)

³ Epinal - A town in northern France that in the 18th century came to be known for making simplified "maps" to explain events and sites. The expression "image d'Epinal" came to mean something that simplifies or stereotypes.

À Oslo j'aime Agadir - It appears that people fly from Oslo to Agadir to go shopping.

À Java j'aime La Villette - Java is in word play here, I believe. Java is a dance and La Villette a dance club in Paris.

  Alma - A bridge in Paris 




2 comments:

Marcella said...

Hi Laura,

This blog is becoming increasingly interesting for me. I'm also visitor of Monsieur Bashung.com where I can find that amazing creativity of the image in complicity with the texts of Bashung.

Here I can deepen Bashung texts in an extraordinary way, in French and English, from the Spanish I speak. It's very interesting how resonates in our ears, our souls, every word said in a given language ... there is so much to discover and Bashung send us multiple messages!

Moineau En France said...

thank you, marcella, that is so encouraging. i find that my good grasp of english grammar helped me so much with french, so i can relate to what you're saying about spanish.

i always check in with monsieur bashung too... i love what they are doing. and the official forum where some posts have deepened my understanding of the songs. love to you! bisous d'oregon xoxooxoxx