Saturday, May 05, 2007

Georges Brassens

Talking of handymen, there is a marvellous song about a handyman by one of my favourite French singer-songwriters, George Brassens. He never sang it himself, as he wrote it for cabaret singer Patachou, who helped him to launch his singing career on stage. I first heard it about 50 years ago, and I like it so much that I recently made a literal translation of it, from which I hoped to move on to a rhyming, singable version – but that has proved too great a challenge for me! You can see the original French lyric here.


During rare moments of pause
When he is not repairing something
He looks for an available corner
Where he can still knock in a nail
(Hammer and nails)

(Hammer and nails)
The nail which he hammers in
In the place of yesterday’s nail
He’ll replace tomorrow with a better one
The same one as the day before yesterday,
what’s more.

My God, what happiness !
My God, what happiness
To have a handyman husband
My God, what happiness !
My God, what happiness
To have a handy husband
(Hammer and nails)(2x)

During one of my pregnancies
I constantly grumbled to him
About the unbelievable cost
Of a baby’s layette.
(Hammer and nails) (2x)
But when the child saw the light of day
I found to my utmost delight
That my husband had somehow managed
To make it for me fully dressed.


At the present moment he is installing
A new electrical system
Which will allow mankind, at last,
To make water out of wine.
(Hammer and nails) (2x)
But in his calculations he makes a mistake
And when we drink at the pump
We find ourselves gulping down
A large glass of electricity.


As he is afraid that the riff-raff
Will covet his planes, and his pliers,
At bedtime he puts them all
In the middle of the marriage bed.
(Hammer and nails) (2x)
And often, at night, I wake up
Dreaming of all sorts of wonders
Suggested by a teasing sensation,
But it’s only a brace and bit !

My God, what a misery
My God, what a misery
To have a handyman husband !
My God, what a misery
My God, what a misery
To have a handy husband !


Lucy said...

Brassens was so naughty!

Judith said...

Ah!Lucy - I wondered if any of my readers would share my interest in Brassens. You could hardly live 10 years in France without being aware of his work, I am sure.