Du chant à la une (1958)

Ce mortel ennui


Serge complains of the horrible boredom that overtakes him between bouts of lovemaking with his goonish companion — yet finds himself unable to leave her.

Paroles de Gainsbourg

Ce mortel ennui
Qui me vient
Quand je suis avec toi

Ce mortel ennui
Qui me tient
Et me suit pas à pas

Le jour où j’aurai assez d’estomac
Et de toi
Pour te laisser choir
Ce jour-là, oui ce jour là, je crois
Oui je crois
Que je pourrai voir

Ce mortel ennui
Se tailler
À l’anglaise loin de moi

Bien sûr il n’est rien besoin de dire
À l’horizontale
Mais on ne trouve plus rien à se dire
À la verticale

Alors pour tuer le temps
Entre l’amour et l’amour
J’prends l’journal et mon stylo
Et je remplis et les A et les O

Il faudra bien que j’me décide un jour
Mon amour
À me faire la malle
Mais j’ai peur qu’tu n’ailles dans la salle de bain
Tendre la main
Vers le Gardénal

Comme j’veux pas d’ennui
Avec ma conscience
Et ton père
Je m’laisse faire!


A pretty straightforward song by Serge standards — but an amusing and clever one.

The “horizontal” / “vertical” line is the one that hooks you — but the one that lingers is the sad/hilarious image of Serge killing time by lazily filling in As and Os in the newspaper, as his lover sits somewhere nearby in obstinate silence…

The bumbling third stanza (“One day, yes one day,” etc.) is incredibly lazy and unusually tongue-tied for Young Serge. Perhaps that’s to reflect the speaker’s own deadly laziness?

Note the mention of Gardénal — French brand-name barbiturates — which also appear in the somewhat more complex “En relisant ta lettre.” There, the speaker purports to be recommending Gardénal as a way for his lover to calm herself — while implicitly encouraging suicide. Here the association is 100% with the latter, but the speaker daren’t make any encouragements… (I’ve called them sleeping pills here — gets the point across a little more clearly.)

Traduction de “Fluid Makeup”

This deadly boredom
That comes over me
Whenever I’m with you.

This deadly boredom
That grabs me
And follows at my heels.

The day when I finally have the guts,
And when I’ve finally had enough of you,
To leave —
That day — yes, that day — I believe,
Yes, I believe —
That I’ll be able to see

This deadly ennui
Heading off,
Far away from me.

Obviously there’s no need to say anything at all
When we’re horizontal
But we also can’t find anything to say
When we’re vertical.

So to kill the time
Between bouts of lovemaking,
I grab the newspaper and my pen
And I fill in the As and the Os.

I really will need to decide one day,
My love,
To pack my bags.
But I’m worried you’ll go into the bathroom
And reach for
The sleeping pills.

Since I don’t want any trouble
With my conscience
Or your father
I’ll just see how it all plays out.

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