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'If You Go Away' vs 'Don't Leave Me'

August 30, 2016

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‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ is very close to the top of the pantheon of French music. Jacques Brel is a Belgian born singer and writer of some of the most iconic French language songs ever written. There are so many, and we will certainly visit more in the future, but this is the ‘gateway’ song to the passion that is Brel.

 

So, whether you know it already or you don't, read on! Because ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ is always worth a listen and a ponder. When is love in any form: lost, obessesed, found, broken, tortured or passionate ever not worth a listen? (insert melancholic smile here)

ORIGINAL SONG RECORDING LINK

 

Many English speaking audiences might know the song from its translated version ‘If You Go Away’ performed by artists such as Scott Walker, Dusty Springfield and even Sinatra. Nina Simone gave a daring, and gut-wrenching rendition in French.

 

But, like most translated songs, the lyric shifts dramatically and far, far away from Brel’s original poetry. The English version has merit on its own and it still holds some of that heartache in the lyrics (it would be impossible to remove the melancholy from the melody) but the literal translation of Jacques Brel’s text is too stunning to let go by.

 

So, we want to make sure we give this iconic song its due by offering you this translated lyric along with some links where you can hear the different versions. It’s a sad song for sure, delving into obsession, passion and the gravity of a broken heart. But, well, being that it’s at the pinnacle of french music we couldn’t ignore its importance or impact.

 

So let your heart sigh a bit…and visit (or revisit) the poetry of ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’

 

 

SOME LINKS TO DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF THE SONG: 
- A stunning live version

- A version with english subtitles
- Another lovely version. Slightly different. Mostly just piano voice with minimal orchestration.

- Sung in english by Frank Sinatra and here by Dusty Springfield

 


LES PAROLES             THE LYRICS

 

Ne me quitte pas.                   Don’t leave me

Il faut oublier,                          One must forget

Tout peut s’oublier,                 All can be forgotten

Qui s’enfuit déjà.                     Which is already passed

Oublier le temps                     Forget the times

Des malentendus                   Of misunderstandings

Et le temps perdu                   And the time lost

À savoir comment.                 Trying to know why

Oublier ces heures                 Forget these hours

Qui tuaient parfois                 That sometimes killed

À coups de pourquoi              With shots of why

Le cœur du bonheur.             The heart of happiness

Ne me quitte pas,                   Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas,                   Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas,                   Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas.                   Don’t leave me

 

Moi, je t’offrirai                         Me, I will offer you

Des perles de pluie                 Pearls of rain

Venues de pays                       From a country

Où il ne pleut pas.                   Where it does not rain

Je creuserai la terre                 I will dig the earth

Jusqu’après ma mort               Until after my death

Pour couvrir ton corps           To cover your body

D’or et de lumière.                   In gold and light

Je ferai un domaine                 I will build a kingdom

Où l’amour sera roi,                 Where love will be king

Où l’amour sera loi,                 Where love will be law

Où tu seras reine.                    Where you will be queen

Ne me quitte pas,                    Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas,                    Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas,                    Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas.                    Don’t leave me

 

Ne me quitte pas.                    Don’t leave me

Je t’inventerai                            I will invent for you

Des mots insensés                   Words that make no sense

Que tu comprendras.              But that you will understand

Je te parlerai                              I will speak to you

De ces amants-là                      Of these lovers

Qui ont vu deux fois                Who have twice seen

Leurs cœurs s’embraser.         Their hearts set ablaze

Je te raconterai                          I will tell you

L’histoire de ce roi                    The history of a king

Mort de n’avoir pas                  Who is dead for not having

Pu te rencontrer.                      Been able to meet you

Ne me quitte pas,                     Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas,                     Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas,                     Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas.                     Don’t leave me

                          

On a vu souvent                      One has often seen

Rejaillir le feu                           The fire awakened

De l’ancien volcano                 From the old volcano

Qu’on croyait trop vieux.        That was thought too old

Il est, paraît-il,                           It is, it seems

Des terres brûlées                   The burned land   

Donnant plus de blé                That gives more wheat

Qu’un meilleur avril.                Than the best April

Et quand vient le soir,              And when the night comes

Pour qu’un ciel flamboie,        For the sky to blaze

Le rouge et le noir                    The red and the black

Ne s’épousent-ils pas?             Must they not marry?

Ne me quitte pas,                    Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas,                    Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas,                    Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas.                    Don’t leave me

 

Ne me quitte pas.                   Don’t leave me

Je ne vais plus pleurer,           I will no longer cry

Je ne vais plus parler.             I will no longer speak

Je me cacherai là                     I will hide here

À te regarder,                          To watch you

Danser et sourire                    Danse and smile

Et à t’écouter                           And listen to you

Chanter et puis rire.               Sing and then laugh

Laisse-moi devenir                 Let me become

L’ombre de ton ombre,          The shadow of your shadow

L’ombre de ta main,               The shadow of your hand

L’ombre de ton chien.            The shadow of your dog

Ne me quitte pas,                   Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas,                   Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas,                   Don’t leave me

Ne me quitte pas.                   Don’t leave me

 

 

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