(English follows for learners)

En décembre a fait paraître Daniel Lavoie un nouvel album, vite devenu l'un de mes préféres : Mes longs voyages. Malheureusement les paroles de la plupart des chansons ne sont pas encore disponibles en ligne et c'est la version numérique que j'ai achetée (donc pas de textes de jaquette), d'où mon incapacité de résoudre mes difficultés à déduire quelques mots.

Parmi eux certaines de la chanson « Avec le temps » dont le début est prévisible ici :

Avec le temps, avec le temps va ... Tout s'en va !

Est-ce un découpage adéquat de la phrase ?

Mon interprétation serait que Lavoie fait semblant d'hésiter sur quoi dire ou sur ce qu'il pense (« Avec le temps va ... par exemple, ... enfin trop, même tout »). Mais j'hésite moi-même sur cette lecture.

Est-ce la seule possible ?

In December Daniel Lavoie put out a new album that's rapidly become one of my favourites: Mes longs voyages. Unfortunately, the lyrics to most of the songs aren't yet available online and I bought the digital version (so no liner notes), whence my inability to resolve my difficulties discerning some words.

Among them are a few from the song « Avec le temps », the beginning of which can be previewed here:

Avec le temps, avec le temps va... Tout s'en va !

Is this the right way to cut up the sentence?

My interpretation would be that Lavoie is making as if to hesitate over what he'll say or what he thinks (« Over time some things disappear ... for example, ... oh, too much, just everything. ») But I myself am hesitating over this reading.

Is is the only one possible?

P.S. Extra credit for anyone who feels like it, but irrelevant to my choosing an answer. I feel fairly comfortable forming sentences in French as far the literal meaning goes, but not always evaluating the register. Do you native speakers find the above French more or less the same as the English reads, or somewhat stilted? I know only more exposure can fix this, but just curious in this case. :)

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    Composée en 1969 et enregistrée en 1970 par Léo Ferré, cette chanson est une reprise dont vous pourrez trouver les paroles en de nombreux endroits, dont ici. Jun 11, 2017 at 0:14
  • @Feelew Merci ! Chercher un autre enregistrement ne m'est jamais passé par la tête. Le découpage confirmé, la lecture me semble plus ou moins inévitable. Je ferme. (Comme je trouve que tes commentaires précèdent parfois une réponse très bien conçue, si tu en voulais offrirune je t'invite dans le chat. Sinon, « case closed ».)
    – Luke Sawczak
    Jun 11, 2017 at 0:21
  • Il existe de nombreuses reprises de cette chanson très justement célébrée (quoique très noire). Wikipédia en cite quelques-unes ici et potentiellement quelques autres . Jun 11, 2017 at 0:21
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    I'm voting to close this question because the problem turned out to be solvable by the equivalent of a dictionary lookup.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Jun 11, 2017 at 0:23
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    Well, if you're voting to close it off, I'll just mention that there is much despair in the song, which to me justifies saying things slowly, as to allow the bad news to settle in or the thought of a solution to take shape (which in this case doesn't appear to happen, unfortunately). Jun 11, 2017 at 0:26

3 Answers 3


"Va", like "allons", "allez" from the same verb, can be used as an interjection. Examples

  • tu me fais bien rire, va
  • allez, les enfants, on se calme
  • il faudrait partir au plus tard dans, allons, une heure, une heure et demie

Seems more plausible to read it as an interjection

Avec le temps, avec le temps, va, tout s'en va

than as a verb with an inversion and the omission of the subject. We don't start a sentence with an inversion (literary style) if we hesitate on the subject, and if we are Léo Ferré with his very familiar style.

Next verses:

Le coeur, quand ça bat plus, c'est pas la peine d'aller
chercher plus loin, faut laisser faire, et c'est très bien

So "va" is used to explicitely talk to the reader/listener.

  • One of the candidates to the presidential election used that sentence « Allez, viennent les jours heureux et le goût du bonheur » Jun 12, 2017 at 16:02

The bit "Avec le temps" is just repeated twice. It is how Léo Ferré wrote his song and he had most probably the best reasons to do so because he was an outstanding poet and an great composer too.

The words themselves have a long, dark tonality that gives the whole song's mood.

You are right that the repetition is like an hesitation, because the song is about terrible things every human being experiences : the vanishing of love.

Therefore Ferré hesitates when he begins to sing, as if the very words were too hard to say, as if his throat was stucked.

Though Ferré had a huge reputation, he was not precisely very popular because he was an anarchist songwriter. Nevertheless this song is one of the most popular french songs ever, and everyone knows that first sentence, a deep, powerfull sentence that inevitably refers to our own mortality.

That is why it is such a superb song.

I encourage you to listen to the original, though.


To me… this is the best French song ever !

Leo wrote this masterpiece in 2 hours while waiting in a room listening to a clock… you can hear the clock ticking in the musical score, three notes, time going away, what a song…

Avec le temps, on oublie tout, les mots des pauvres gens,
ne rentre pas trop tard, surtout ne prends pas froid…

and the end is so powerful…

Avec le temps on n’aime plus !

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