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I am a new French learner (currently pursuing A2), so my ears are still untrained to catch the subtle nuances of the language.

There's this song lyrics that's been puzzling me. The song is quite popular on Instagram these days — Je te laisserai des mots (listen to the song here if you aren't acquainted).

All's fine up until the point where he starts singing in a falsetto, and I can't quite make out exactly what he's saying. Naturally, I took the help of the internet to figure it out. There are majorly two versions of the lyrics that I found.

En-dessous de les murs qui chantent

by Musixmatch

Whereas, Genius says it's

En d'ssous de la lune qui chante

As far as I know, 'de' and 'les' can never appear together unless 'les' is acting as a pronoun and not an article. That makes the first one grammatically incorrect, however it might make a little more sense because where else would you leave notes if not within someone's house walls. That said, this logic clashes with the fact that 'dessous' means beneath/under. On the other hand, 'dessous de la lune' sounds slightly vague and incoherent to me. Which one is it? Or is it an entirely different third option?

Confusion Number 2

There's another area in the lyrics where there's a discrepancy.

Musixmatch's version

Cachés dans les trous de ton divan

And Genius's version

Cachés dans les trous d'un temps d'hiver

I don't think "stored in the holes of a winter weather" has any meaning. But do let me know if that's correct and there's some native expression I'm unaware of.

Do shed some light on this for me, s'il vous plaît.

3 Answers 3

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It seems like

En-dessous de les murs qui chantent

and

Cachés dans les trous de ton divan

are actually the correct lyrics since in a tutorial video he published on his channel he clarifies the lyrics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aokgVRgEwCo

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    You are right (Official lyrics are also here: patrickwatson.net/fr/lyrics). These "correct" lyrics are broken French as far as de les murs are concerned. A careless mistake, Patrick Watson is clearly not a native French speaker.
    – jlliagre
    Jun 13 at 9:13
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    That's unfortunate!
    – Luke Sawczak
    Jun 13 at 11:50
  • @Luke What is infortunate is the broken French, not the fact he is not a native French speaker ;-) Nobody's perfect ;-) ;-)
    – jlliagre
    Jun 14 at 7:14
  • @jlliagre Indeed... and the popularity of a song with mistakes by a non-native. I've had students request that we play this in class. On the other hand you could say that any exposure is good exposure...
    – Luke Sawczak
    Jun 14 at 10:37
  • @LukeSawczak Yes. Poetic licence pushed to its limits... Reminds me Wejdene's Tu prends tes caleçons sales et tu hors de ma vue.
    – jlliagre
    Jun 14 at 11:35
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The Musixmatch version is just wrong. As you note, it isn't grammatically correct. Songs aren't always grammatically correct, but “*de les” would be extremely weird even in a song: you wouldn't say that even if you needed two syllables for the meter. I think the Genius version is correct. In addition to the singing, the vowels are typical of Canadian French; I hope a Canadian native (I'm French) can confirm it.

I found another recording which is slightly clearer. It's “en d'sous de la lune qui chante” (1, 2) and “cachés dans les trous d'un temps d'hiver” (1, 2).

En d'sous de la lune qui chante” means “below the singing moon”. “Below the moon” is perfectly logical. That the moon is singing is poetic.

Cachés dans les trous d'un temps d'hiver” means “Hidden in the holes of a winter weather” or “… of a winter time”. This evokes a winter time when there's snow on the ground and everything is quiet. These are holes in time during which nothing is happening. The woman that the singer is talking to is presumably alone at home, during a winter night, with the moon lighting the sky. The singer imagines the woman to be lonely, perhaps herself imagining that the moon is talking to her, and longing for company — and the singer wishes for her to long for his company.

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Here's what I hear without consulting lyrics sites:

je te laisserai des mots
en dessous de ta porte
en dessous de la lune qui chante
tout près de la place où tes pieds passent
cachés dans les trous d'un temps d'hiver
et quand tu es seule pendant un instant
ramasse-moi quand tu voudras

When I compare this to the genius.com version, I see that we agree on all but one point, which is that I believe he sings « ramasse » each time, not « embrasse ».

My translation:

I will leave you words
under your door
under the singing moon
just where your footsteps fall
hidden in the holes of a winter's day
and when you're alone for a moment
pick me up when you feel like it

You're right about de les murs. Not possible for the reason you state.

While the singing moon is a bit of a stretch, "under the singing walls" seems much less likely to me.

Note that you can't just isolate dessous de la lune. The de is only there because of the en. In general, en dessous de ____ is the same as sous ____.

The "holes of a winter's day" is an interesting one. I don't think I can make myself hear "ton divan" even if it makes more literal sense — the first vowel in that bit is not on and the last vowel doesn't sound nasal to me. I suppose the holes in winter could be holes in the ice, or just a poetic way to refer to emptiness, or periods of silence between people...

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