Wednesday, July 27, 2022

1960s: Anna Marly, My Grandparents, and the Tulsa Chapter of the Alliance Française

It all started with a photo.

Specifically, THIS photo:

L-R: Roma Lubinski, ?, and ?

It's a big photo, nearly 13" tall, and it was tucked in the back of my grandparents' photo album. It was too tall to fit in the album (which is probably why the bottom is damaged), and I recognize only one person in the photo: My grandmother, Roma Lubinski is the woman on the left. 

The photo looks almost like it was for a cooking show, and my grandmother was an excellent French cook. So I asked my mother and aunt, and they both told me the same thing. It was for a Tulsa World article about the Tulsa chapter of the Alliance Française (AF).

That caused my relatives to start reminiscing:  evidently a French folk singer named Anna Marly visited Tulsa as part of an AF program. She was very famous back in France because she was pretty much the voice of the French Resistance, and they played her songs on the radio in the 1940s, and she inspired a lot of people to resist the Nazis.  

That lead me to her most famous song from that era, Le Chant des Partisans (sometimes Complainte du Partisan) or Song of the Partisan, and it was so popular among the Resistance that after France was liberated and resumed its independence, many people proposed that it become the national anthem of France.  You can read the lyrics (French and English side-by-side) at the bottom of this post.  Here's a little bit more about the song, and how important it was: 

Anyway, my grandfather was really excited to meet her when she visited Tulsa, and she actually became pretty good friends with my grandparents.

Anyway, here's her song (in French).  

But here's where it gets personal for me... I discovered that it was translated and arranged for English by Leonard Cohen, and Joan Baez (one of my favorite American folk singers) did an English-language cover, and sang it when she visited France in the early 1970s:

I totally inherited my love of Joan Baez from mother, and in the early 2000s, Mom and I went to see Joan Baez live at The Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri.    

Here's a more modern interpretation (English at the beginning then in French) that I think is particularly lovely:

And finally, here are the lyrics in French with their English translation. Note: the English version of the song itself is slightly different, and I've included those lyrics below a well (in blue).  But I can see why my grandfather liked the song, and the singer.

Complainte du Partisan/Chant des Partisans (French lyrics)
Song of the Partisan (direct English translation)
The Partisan (English lyrics)

Les Allemands étaient chez moi
The Germans were at my house
When they poured across the border

On m'a dit résigne-toi
They told me resign yourself
I was cautioned to surrender

Mais je n'ai pas pu
But I could not
This I could not do

Et j'ai repris mon arme
And I picked up my gun
I took my gun and vanished.

Personne ne m'a demandé
nobody asked me

D'où je viens et où je vais
Where I come from and where I'm going

Vous qui le savez
You who know

Effacez mon passage
Delete my passage

J'ai changé cent fois de nom
I changed my name a hundred times
I have changed my name so often

J'ai perdu femme et enfants
I lost wife and children
I've lost my wife and children

Mais j'ai tant d'amis
But I have so many friends
But I have many friends

Et j'ai la France entière
And I have the whole of France
And some of them are with me

Un vieil homme dans un grenier
An old man in an attic
An old woman gave us shelter

Pour la nuit nous a cachés
For the night hid us
Kept us hidden in the garret

Les Allemands l'ont pris
The Germans took it
Then the soldiers came

Il est mort sans surprise
He died unsurprisingly
She died without a whisper

Hier encore nous étions trois
Yesterday again we were three
There were three of us this morning

Il ne reste plus que moi
Only me left
I'm the only one this evening

Et je tourne en rond
And I turn in circles
But I must go on

Dans la prison des frontières
In the border prison
The frontiers are my prison

Le vent passe sur les tombes
The wind blows over the graves
Oh, the wind, the wind is blowing

La liberté reviendra
freedom will return
Freedom soon will come

On nous oubliera
We will be forgotten

Nous rentrerons dans l'ombre
We will return to the shadows
Then we'll come from the shadows

No comments:

Post a Comment

Neither spam nor mean comments are allowed. I'm the sole judge of what constitutes either one, and any comment that I consider mean or spammy will be deleted without warning or response.