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Histoire de Melody Nelson (1971)

Valse de Melody

Summary

In the third song from Melody Nelson, Serge describes the change of perspective that Melody’s love has occasioned.

Paroles de Gainsbourg

Le soleil est rare
Et le bonheur aussi
L’amour s’égare au long de la vie

Le soleil est rare
Et le bonheur aussi
Mais tout bouge au bras de Melody

Les murs d’enceinte
Du labyrinthe
S’entrouvrent sur
L’infini

Le soleil est rare
Et le bonheur aussi
Mais tout bouge au bras de Melody

Les murs d’enceinte
Du labyrinthe
S’entrouvrent sur
L’infini

Discussion

Here is that rarest of things: a Gainsbourg song seemingly without cynicism. Of course, there is plenty of cynicism in the surrounding songs — lots to be outraged about. But in the “Valse,” Serge is in love with Melody and with his future.

Are there a few dark echoes to be found? Of course there are.

The double-meaning on “enceinte” — as a noun, surrounding wall; as an adjective, pregnant — definitely manages to sweep in some of tawdriness from the surrounding songs (falling in love with a teenager; taking her to a brothel). It also just reminds us English-speakers of what a creepy word the French have for pregnancy: picturing things from the fetal perspective, it depicts pregnancy as the experience of being trapped in the “surrounding wall” of the womb. But that’s not Serge’s fault — the French language is to blame.

Add yet another genre to this album: History in the title, ballad in the second song… and here a waltz. “Waltz” is from a German word meaning “to roll of revolve” — and that’s the dance, two people close together, gliding around in circles. I’d say that sounds like a fairly foreboding description of the state Serge and Melody find themselves in: that mutually-obsessed, closed-off, walled-in stage of early infatuation when you can’t see beyond the boundaries of your duet.

It’s a state that can’t last — and of course, we already know from the previous song that it won’t, that Melody is dead.

Traduction de “Fluid Makeup”

Sunshine is in short supply
And happiness too.
Love loses its way in the course of life.

Sunshine is in short supply
And happiness too —
But everything moves in Melody’s arms.

The outer walls
Of the labyrinth
Part onto
The infinite.

Sunshine is in short supply
And happiness too —
But everything moves in Melody’s arms.

The outer walls
Of the labyrinth
Part onto
The infinite.

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