QOO no. 87   January 21, 2010
A literal word-for-word translation
of the lyrics to "Marie-Jeanne," the               
French version of "Ode to Billie Joe"







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Yes, there was a French "Ode to Billie Joe," released in 1967 with music by Bobbie Gentry
and lyrics by Joe Dassin. But since it was sung by a guy they changed the story around a bit.
And Gallicized the
enfer out of it, of course.

It was the fourth (sic) June, the sun had been beating since the morning.
I was taking care of the grapevines and my brother was loading the hay.
And the hour of the lunch came, one returned to the house.
And our mother cried from the kitchen, "Wipe your (plural, familiar) feet on the doormat."
Then she to us says that she has had of the news from the village of Bourg-les-Essones:
This morning, Marie-Jeanne Guillaume has thrown herself from the bridge of the Garonne (estuary).

And my father says to my mother while to us passing the platter of gratin potatoes,
"The Marie-Jeanne, she was not highly clever, pass me therefore the bread.
There are certainly still 20,000 square meters to cultivate in the field of the sugarcane."
And Mother says, "You see, when I of that think, it is, all the same, beastly for this poor Marie-Jeanne.
One would say that there takes place never anything of good at Bourg-les-Essones.

And voila that Marie-Jeanne Guillaume goes herself to throw from the bridge of the Garonne (estuary)."

And my brother says that he to himself recalls when he and I and the tall (or large, or older) Nicolas,
Had placed a frog in the back of Marie-Jeanne one evening at the cinema.
And he to me says, "You yourself recall, you to her talked this Sunday near to the church.
Give to me again a little of wine. It is quite unjust, the life.
To say that I her had seen at the sawmill yesterday in Bourg-les-Essones.
And that today Marie-Jeanne herself has thrown from the bridge of the Garonne (estuary)."

Mother to me says at last, "My big (boy or man), you have not much appetite.
I have cooked all this morning, and you have touched nothing, you have taken nothing.
Say, the sister of that young parish priest passed by in an automobile,
And to me she said that she would come Sunday to dinner. Oh! And a propos,
She said that she has seen a boy who you resembles at Bourg-les-Essones,
And he and Marie-Jeanne were throwing a certain thing from the bridge of the Garonne (estuary)."

All a year is past, one speaks no more at all of Marie-Jeanne.
My bother who has gotten married has taken a store with his wife.
The flu is come by our place and my father of that is dead in January.
Since, Mother has no longer envy to do (or make) large things. She is always tired.
And me, from time to time I go pick up several flowers from the side of the Essones.
And I them throw into the muddy waters from the top of the bridge of the Garonne (estuary).


Copyright 2009 by David Jaggard. 
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About the translation / traduction of Air France Madame Magazine and Nancy Li