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French Pop Song of the Week: 1969 French Hit in the U.S.

Posted by Thomas Riggs in music translation world literature on July 27, 2010

In the summer of 1967 American songwriter Paul Anka was visiting France. One day, as the story goes, Anka, already a huge success in the United States, was glancing at a television, and by chance he saw the French pop star Claude François singing “Comme d’habitude” (”As Always”), which had just been released. Taken by the melody, Anka found an album of Claude François’s, returned to the United States, and eventually wrote English lyrics for the song. The words are those of a man reflecting on life at the end of his career, and Anka wrote them with Frank Sinatra and Sinatra’s image in mind. In 1969 Sinatra released Anka’s English version, called “My Way.”

Thus were the origins of one of the most successful pop songs in American history. Popularized by Frank Sinatra, “My Way” has since been recorded by more than a thousand other singers. But as explained on this French television program, in France it wasn’t initially a big hit for Claude François, who cowrote the song with Jacques Revaux and Gilles Thibaut. The French lyrics are also completely different, expressing a weary routine in a relationship.

Below is a video of Claude François and Mireille Mathieu singing “Comme d’habitude” in 1973. By this time even Elvis had a version of “My Way.” François and Mathieu end this short version of the song with lines from Anka’s English lyrics.

Following the video is a translation of the original French song. (For a video in which Claude François sings all the French lyrics, click here.)

Comme d’habitude

By Claude François, Jacques Revaux, and Gilles Thibaut

Je me lève et je te bouscule
Tu ne te réveilles pas comme d’habitude
Sur toi je remonte le drap
J’ai peur que tu aies froid comme d’habitude
Ma main caresse tes cheveux
Presque malgré moi comme d’habitude
Mais toi, tu me tournes le dos
Comme d’habitude

Alors je m’habille très vite
Je sors de la chambre comme d’habitude
Tout seul je bois mon café
Je suis en retard comme d’habitude
Sans bruit je quitte la maison
Tout est gris dehors comme d’habitude
J’ai froid, je relève mon col
Comme d’habitude

Comme d’habitude toute la journée
Je vais jouer à faire semblant
Comme d’habitude je vais sourire
Comme d’habitude je vais même rire
Comme d’habitude, enfin je vais vivre
Comme d’habitude

Et puis le jour s’en ira
Moi, je reviendrai comme d’habitude
Toi, tu seras sortie
Pas encore rentrée comme d’habitude
Tout seul j’irai me coucher
Dans ce grand lit froid comme d’habitude
Mes larmes, je les cacherai
Comme d’habitude

Mais comme d’habitude, même la nuit
Je vais jouer à faire semblant
Comme d’habitude tu rentreras
Oui, comme d’habitude je t’attendrai
Comme d’habitude tu me souriras
Oui, comme d’habitude

Comme d’habitude tu te déshabilleras
Oui, comme d’habitude tu te coucheras
Oui, comme d’habitude on s’embrassera
Comme d’habitude

Comme d’habitude on fera semblant
Oui, comme d’habitude on fera l’amour
Oui, comme d’habitude on fera semblant
Comme d’habitude . . .

I get up and make you stir
You don’t wake up as always
Over you I pull the sheets
I’m afraid you’re cold as always
My hand strokes your hair
Almost despite myself as always
But you, you turn your back
As always

Then I get quickly dressed
I leave the room as always
All alone I drink coffee
I’m running late as always
Without a sound I leave the house
All is grey outside as always
I’m cold, I pull up my collar
As always

As always throughout the day
I’m going to play at pretending
As always I’m going to smile
As always I‘ll even laugh
As always I’m finally going to live
As always

And then the day will pass
Me, I’ll go home as always
You, you will have left
Not yet returned as always
All alone I’ll go to sleep
In the cold, large bed as always
My tears I’ll hide them all
As always

But as always even during the night
I’m going to play at pretending
As always you’ll come home
Yes, as always I’ll wait for you
As always you‘ll smile at me
Yes, as always

As always you’ll get undressed
Yes, as always you’ll come to bed
Yes, as always we’ll kiss
As always

As always we’ll pretend
As always we’ll make love
Yes, as always we’ll pretend
As always . . .


Categories: music, translation, world literature | 1 Comment »

One Response to “French Pop Song of the Week: 1969 French Hit in the U.S.”

  1. Bruno Says:
    September 23rd, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Do you know that Claude François is the creator of “My Boy” (Parce que je t’aime mon enfant) of Elvis ?