Le Large (The Open Sea)


No ordinary tale etched in my memory,
no ship full of pirates that can take control;
no shooting star that would leave me in the dark;
no fear, none at all.

REFRAIN:
And tomorrow all will be well and so far away,
there at the end when I take to the sea;
all will be far, so give me your hand,
there at the end when I take to the sea.

No tears--and nothing else that can strangle me,
no cloud of mist across my faded eyes;
no grain of sand or dune to halt the hourglass;
no quarter moon, none at all.

REFRAIN

No other places, none other than you.
No secret key, no chance for me.

REFRAIN

No hungry shark and no sad tune,
no regret, no quaking ground;
no loud, empty talk,
and no chaos--no, none at all.

REFRAIN

Words and music by Sophie Huriaux
English translation by Frank Beck

In April 2018, Françoise Hardy released the album Personne d'Autre ("Noone else"). It was the 28th album in a career that began 56 years earlier with her hit single "Tous les garcons et les filles" ("All the boys and girls of my age/promenade in the street two by two . . . ").

But this album was different: it came four years after Hardy nearly died in a Paris hospital at the age of 70, as a result of lymphatic cancer. As a last resort, her son agreed to try an experimental type of chemotherapy, and, miraculously, she regained her health.

When Hardy began to compile material for a new album, she wanted, among other things, to reflect her near-death experience, and French singer/songwriter Sophie Huriaux, better known by her stage name, Le Grand Sophie, provided "Le Large." The song was chosen for the album's video, shot in black-and-white by François Ozon, a French film director who had never done a music video before. His best known films are Swimming Pool (2003) and Frantz (2016).

Few contemporary songs deal with mortality with such openness and finesse; this brilliant collaboration by Hardy, Huriaux and Ozon sees it as the last of life's gifts.




Françoise Hardy in 1966

The Most Beautiful Song



There were two simple notes
but one grand symphony--
that's how we found one another,
and together we made
the most beautiful song.

So soft and so quiet
and chosen with love,
but what would the song sound like
if one note all at once were gone?

I breathe in, and then I breathe out;
I let my eyes open and close;
and I hear all the singing and all the music:
none of it sounds like you.

It pops and spits,
it bends and breaks,
it howls and hisses,
burns and stings.

And everything's fine,
though the world's going wrong,
because it just keeps on turning without you,
yes, it does keep on turning without you.

I breathe in, and then I breathe out;
I let my eyes open and close;
and I hear all the singing and all the music:
none it sounds like you.
No, not at all like you.

And on a day like this one--
just like today--I feel so alone;
though I'm here singing for so many people,
my only wish is that you would be there.

There are two simple notes,
here in my fantasy,
and together they make
the most beautiful song.
Yes, we're still the most beautiful song.

Words and music by Anna Depenbusch
Translated by Frank Beck

One of my favorite songs from the singer/songwriter's latest album, Das Alphabet der Anne Depenbusch. As Karla Letterman says in her article about an April 2018 concert, 'Anna Depenbusch walks out on stage, takes a seat at the grand piano, gets started--and you're in the middle. In the middle of life.'


Stadt Land Fluss

Anna Depenbusch



Now I'm here, then I'm there:
My suitcase always packed to go,
So nothing holds me anywhere,
And there is nowhere I'm at home.
I need the rails beneath my feet,
The gentle rattle of the doors.
Solid ground no longer helps me;
My life keeps rolling like a train.

Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back;
From inside to outside
And then inside out.
Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back;
The world's a blur
Till I know where I am.

Every mile makes it easy
Both to forget and to forgive.
All the old ways I've abandoned;
There's no more baggage--I'm alone.
People say I need a goal:
Trust yourself and your gut feeling.
But what if nothing's out there
Because your only goal is you?
It comes and goes just as it wants to;
Only in motion is it still.

Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back;
From inside to outside
And then inside out.
Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back;
The world's a blur
Till I know where I am.

Between Hamburg and Berlin,
Between Munich and Schwerin,
Between Bremen, Cologne and Stuttgart,
Between Freiburg, Mainz and Puttgarden,
Between Oder, Elbe, Rhine,
Somewhere there I'll be, right now.

Shadows flicker on the curtains;
Leaves fly by but stay in place.
Walls of houses, lines of traffic;
Joni Mitchell paints the landscape blue.
Mirrored pictures in the windows;
I let my thoughts rise like a kite.
That's goodbye, in my own fashion.
In all your travels, remember me.

Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back;
From inside to outside
And then inside out.
Stadt Land Fluss:
To there and back;
The world's a blur
Till I know where I am.

Words and music by Anna Depenbusch
Translated by Frank Beck

One of my favorite songs from Anna Depenbusch's new album, Das Alphabet der Anna Depenbusch. She's a songwriter with the knack of presenting life's contradictions, without trying to smooth them out.

The phrase 'Stadt Land Fluss' refers to a popular German game, often played in a car, in which one person names a letter of the alphabet and players compete to see how many cities, countries and rivers starting with that letter they can name in a specified amount of time. As such, the phrase is untranslatable. See the first link below for a live performance of the song from Darmstadt in April 2017.


Anna Depenbusch in concert--Darmstadt, April 2017 (Photo: Thomas Bieg)