On Friday evening I was lucky enough, along with a few friends, to have tickets to see Madeleine Peyroux at The Dome in Brighton. She performed songs from her latest album, Half The Perfect World, including a cover of "La Javanaise", a Serge Gainsbourg song which he wrote in 1962. The song makes it sound like "la Javanaise" is a dance, when in fact javanais is a form of French slang which sticks "av" between a word’s consonants and vowels. I’ve always loved this song and its undulating alliterations (including, cleverly enough, the sound "av"), which give an excellent idea of Gainsbourg’s mastery of language. My appalling attempt at translation is only there to give you an idea of the story the song is telling, as I have neither the time nor the talent to try and convey its stunning poetry. Also below, a video of Pauline Croze‘s version, just so you can hear how musical the lyrics themselves are.

J’avoue
J’en ai
Bavé
Pas vous
Mon amour
Avant
D’avoir
Eu vent
De vous
Mon amour

Ne vous déplaise
En dansant la Javanaise
Nous nous aimions
Le temps d’une chanson

A votre
Avis
Qu’avons-
Nous vu
De l’amour
De vous
A moi
Vous m’a-
Vez eu
Mon amour

Ne vous déplaise
En dansant la Javanaise
Nous nous aimions
Le temps d’une chanson

Hélas
Avril
En vain
Me voue
A l’amour
J’avais
Envie
De voir
En vous
Cet amour

Ne vous déplaise
En dansant la Javanaise
Nous nous aimions
Le temps d’une chanson

La vie
Ne vaut
D’être
Vécue
Sans Amour
Mais c’est
Vous qui
L’avez
Voulu
Mon amour

Ne vous déplaise
En dansant la Javanaise
Nous nous aimions
Le temps d’une chanson

I had
A few
Tough years
Didn’t you
My true love
Until
At last
You crossed
My path
My true love

If you don’t mind
While dancing the javanaise
Our love lasted
As long as a song

What do
You think
That we
Have seen
Of true love
Let me
Tell you
I was
Deceived
My true love

If you don’t mind
While dancing the javanaise
Our love lasted
As long as a song

Alas
April
In vain
Draws me
To true love
I was
Willing
To see
In you
This true love

If you don’t mind
While dancing the javanaise
Our love lasted
As long as a song

Life is
Pointless
When it’s
Devoid
Of true love
But that’s
The choice
You made
For us
My true love

If you don’t mind
While dancing the javanaise
Our love lasted
As long as a song