Categories
Initials B. B. (1968)

Ford Mustang

Summary

Serge and a date are “making tongues” in a Ford Mustang. Driving a little too fast on a French country road, they lose control and start pinballing between the trees that line either side of the road. As they smash and crash off trees to the left and right, the stuff in their car starts flying. These flying contents are enumerated.

The words in quotation marks belong to Serge’s female companion, who is English. How do we know? She so badly mispronounces “langues” (tongues… languages!) that it sounds like “lines.” (I thought that’s what she was saying until I finally read the lyrics…)

Paroles de Gainsbourg

On se fait des “langues”
En “Ford Mustang”
Et “bang!”
On embrasse
Les platanes
“Mus” à gauche
“Tang” à droite
Et à gauche, à droite

Un essuie-glace
Un paquet “de Kool”
“Un badge”
Avec inscrit dessus “Keep Cool”
Une barre de chocolat
Un “Coca-Cola”

On se fait des “langues”
En “Ford Mustang”
Et “bang!”
On embrasse
Les platanes
“Mus” à gauche
“Tang” à droite
Et à gauche, à droite

Une bouteille
De “fluide make-up”
Un “flash”
Un “Browning”
Et un “pick up”
Un recueil “D’Edgar Poe”
Un briquet “Zippo”

On se fait des “langues”
En “Ford Mustang”
Et “bang!”
On embrasse
Les platanes
“Mus” à gauche
“Tang” à droite
Et à gauche, à droite

Un numéro
De “Superman”
Un écrou de chez
“Paco Rabanne”
Une photo “D’Marilyn”
Un tube “d’aspirine”

On se fait des “langues”
En “Ford Mustang”
Et “bang!”
On embrasse
Les platanes
“Mus” à gauche”
“Tang” à droite”
Et à gauche, à droite

Discussion

I am very fond of this song, and named this blog after a line from it. (Thus, this was the first post on this blog.)

It’s not particularly challenging as a translation, though there are a few fun bits. The trickiest line is definitely the first, “faire des langues.” As I describe in the annotation above, it has at least three meanings: inflated praise, French kissing, and playing around with languages. I couldn’t possibly catch all three, so I dropped the whole matter of “tongues” and did my best to capture inflated praise and… unbecoming sexual conduct. But really, the annotations on the original lyrics are much more important than my English translations. Please make your own translations, drawing on my insights.

There’s an interesting connection here to “Melody,” the opening track from Melody Nelson, which begins with the narrator losing control of his car (a Rolls, not a Mustang). The opening line is “Les ailes de la Rolls effleuraient des pylônes” — The wings of the Rolls were brushing against the poles (on either side of the road). Same situation as Serge in his Mustang embracing the plane trees.

Traduction de “Fluid Makeup”

We’re blowing smoke up one another’s asses
In a Ford Mustang
And Bang!
We smash into the trees that line the sides of the road
Mus! on the left
Tang! on the right
And again, left and right

A windshield wiper
A pack of Kools
A button
Inscribed, “Keep Cool”
A chocolate bar
A Coca-Cola

We’re blowing smoke up one another’s asses
In a Ford Mustang
And Bang!
We smash into the trees that line the sides of the road
Mus! on the left
Tang! on the right
And again, left and right

A bottle
Of fluid makeup
A flash
A Browning
And a pickup
A collection of Edgar Poe
A Zippo

We’re blowing smoke up one another’s asses
In a Ford Mustang
And Bang!
We smash into the trees that line the sides of the road
Mus! on the left
Tang! on the right
And again, left and right

An issue
Of Superman
A bolt by
Paco Rabanne
A photo of Marilyn
A tube of aspirin

We’re blowing smoke up one another’s asses
In a Ford Mustang
And Bang!
We smash into the trees that line the sides of the road
Mus! on the left
Tang! on the right
And again, left and right

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