Noir et blanc by Bernard Lavilliers

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21H20 / 3:20 p.m. Friday November 20, 2015. In Solidarity.

The song , “Noir et blanc” by Bernard Lavilliers (France), is interpreted in this video by the great Salif Keita (Mali)… A translation rarely does a song justice (and, as usual, I’ve taken some liberty with it), so the original French follows.  Lavilliers’ original performance is amazing as well, and can be viewed here. I had the opportunity to see Lavilliers in concert a few years ago at the Grand Rex Concert Hall, located just down the street from La Place de la République.

Black and White

I know that city
I know that song that I used to sing
There is blood on the sidewalk

That’s his voice, like burnt dust
Those are the marks of his fingernails on the armored tank
They killed him, he is cold and afraid
I hear his beating heart

He could be from any country, of any color

He lived with words
Passed clandestinely from coat to coat
and shining like knives

He knew how to play with sarcasm
Like a high-precision weapon
He is lying on the pavement —
but his damned songs
We know every word by heart!

Sometimes, in music, there are major chords
and children laugh along – but not the dictators
Whatever country you are from, whatever color you are
Music is cry that comes from within

It depends on your latitude
It depends on your attitude
It’s 100 years of solitude

There is blood on my piano
You can hear the sound of boots in my tempo
Beneath the volcano, I hear him, I hear him
I hear his heart beating!

Sometimes, in music, there are minor chords
That make the “great liberator” grind his teeth
Whatever country you are from, whatever color you are
Music is a call to action that comes from within

I know that city
That’s a song that I sang
A song that reflects who we are

It’s the voice of Mandela
A tempo set by Doctor Fela Kuti
Listen to the crowd sing your words that roll
And make our hearts beat!

Whatever country you are from, whatever color you are
Music is a call to action that comes from within

—————-
Noir et blanc

C’est une ville que je connais
Une chanson que je chantais
Y’a du sang sur le trottoir
C’est sa voix poussière brûlée
C’est ses ongles sur le blindé
Ils l’ont battu à mort, il a froid, il a peur
J’entends battre son cœur
De n’importe quel pays, de n’importe quelle couleur
Il vivait avec des mots
Qu’on passait sous le manteau
Qui brillaient comme des couteaux
Il jouait d’la dérision
Comme d’une arme de précision
Il est sur le ciment mais ses chansons maudites
On les connaît par coeur
La musique parfois a des accords majeurs
Qui font rire les enfants, mais pas les dictateurs
De n’importe quel pays, de n’importe quelle couleur
La musique est un cri qui vient de l’intérieur
Ça dépend des latitudes
Ça dépend d’ton attitude
C’est cent ans de solitude
Y’a du sang sur mon piano
Y’a des bottes sur mon tempo
Au-dessous du volcan je l’entends, je l’entends
J’entends battre son coeur
La musique parfois a des accords mineurs
Qui font grincer les dents du grand libérateur
De n’importe quel pays, de n’importe quelle couleur
La musique est un cri qui vient de l’intérieur
C’est une ville que je connais
Une chanson que je chantais
Une chanson qui nous ressemble
C’est la voix de Mandela
Le tempo Docteur Fela
Ecoute chanter la foule avec tes mots qui roulent
Et font battre son coeur
De n’importe quel pays, de n’importe quelle couleur
La musique est un cri qui vient de l’intérieur
De n’importe quel pays, de n’importe quelle couleur
La musique est un cri qui vient de l’intérieur…

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