Posted by Carole
Maybe I shouldn’t admit it but for many years I very rarely listened to any French music as I much preferred artists from the Anglo-Saxon world and especially from the rocking nation that is the UK!
Of course there were a few French artists that I liked and respected but still, the French music section of my IPod remained pretty much empty for a long time… until I met my boyfriend.
When he realized that I wasn’t listening to any music from our common home-country, it was a total shock for him as he is very attached to his French heritage and therefore French music.
So he made me listen to it, no choice here, and truth be told I enjoyed it a lot and was surprisingly delighted to fall back in love with some of the classics as well as more recent tracks.
Most people know French icons like Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg or contemporary hit-makers like the Daft Punk or M83 but some beautiful songs have not travelled past the English Channel and I thought Whatever Friday was the perfect opportunity to share some tracks that, I hope, will touch your soul and make you sing along. Plus, some say that playing French music at a dinner party is utterly chic, so maybe try it next time you host at your place… and add some candles and wine for a full “Oh la la” effect.
Lyrics are particularly important for French artists, who are known for their very engaged and sometimes very political lyrics (you either like it or not!) and the song I will present to you today is no exception to that. The reason I choose it is because the lyrics resonates deep with my convictions and I cannot help but have tears in my eyes every time I listen to them.
This song is “LA CORRIDA” by FRANCIS CABREL and it is about bullfighting but from the perspective of the bull… and of course it denounces the sheer non-sense and cruelty of this practice that involves in most cases the slow and painful killing of the animal.
In each verse, Francis Cabrel describes in a very poetic and metaphoric way what the bull thinks and feels as he goes through his ordeal.
In the first verse, we find the bull waiting in a dark room, wondering why he is here and why he can hear people singing and cheering outside.
I’ve been waiting in this dark room for such a long time
I hear laughs and singing
At the end of the corridor.
Somebody touched the lock
And I dived towards the bright light…
I saw brass bands, barriers
And people around.
In the second verse, the bull finds himself under the attack of the matador and quickly understands that one of them will have to die.
In the first moments, I believed
You only had to defend yourself.
But this place is a dead end,
I begin to understand.
They closed the door behind me,
They were afraid I retreat.
I certainly end up catching
This ridiculous dancer…
In the third verse, the bull remembers the beauty of his native land, Andalusia, and is still confident he can win this fight.
Andalusia, I remember:
Meadows lined with cactus…
I am not going to shiver in front of
This puppet, this loser!
I am going to catch him, him and his hat,
Make them twirl as a sun!
This evening, the wife of the torero
Will sleep on both ears.
In the fourth verse, the bull gets increasingly distressed and distraught and starts losing hope.
I have chased many ghosts,
Almost touched their ballet shoes.
They hit hard in my neck.
For me to bow.
Where do these acrobats come from
With their costumes made of paper ?
I’ve never learnt to fight
In the fifth and final verse, the bull succumbs and because there are no words stronger than Cabrel’s to describe this terrible scene, I’ll let you appreciate his lyrics without further comment.
Feeling the sand under my head,
It’s crazy how it can feel good.
I prayed for it all to stop.
Andalusia, I remember…
I hear them laugh as I moan,
I see them dance as I succumb,
I didn’t think that one could have
So much fun around a grave.
The chorus is one simple and efficient question the bulls asks himself:
Is this world serious?
Finally, the song ends with a striking contrast sung in Spanish by Cabrel and Nicolas Reyes from the Gipsy Kings (famous flamenco band from France) giving a voice to the men taking part in bullfighting, who are cheering and encouraging more killings.
Yes, yes, man, man,
We have to dance again
And we will kill others
Other lives, other bulls
And we will kill others
Come, come dancing
Deep, isn’t it?
Some say bullfighting is cultural heritage, folklore or just a good spectacle but so were many practices like gladiator games, dog fighting, fox hunting or freak shows and still, we’ve condemned them because we realized how cruel and immoral these were so why not applying the same thinking to bullfighting? I truly don’t understand as I strongly believe that no cultural heritage can justify putting to death humans or animals for entertainment purposes.
Besides these very profound and serious lyrics that, I think, can be applied to many other situations where some people feel rightly about hurting other living beings, I hope that you will enjoy the melody and talent of Monsieur Cabrel, who is a true poet!
Here are YouTube links of the song with the lyrics in French so you can sing along as well as the song performed live.
Song with lyrics in French
La Corrida from Francis Cabrel was released in 1994 on the album Samedi Soir sur la Terre.
* Translated lyrics taken from Francis Cabrel’s official website however I’ve changed a few words so you could understand the meaning better.
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