Friday, September 27, 2013

This Is A (Real) Rebel Song

2013 is the 70th anniversary of the writing of the 'Chant des Partisans' which became one of the most important protest anthems ever written.

'Friend, if you fall, another will emerge from the shadows to fill your place. Tomorrow, black blood will dry in the sun on the roads'

7O yeras ago in 1943, World War II is raging and France is occupied by Nazi forces. Many French have escaped to join the Free French Forces based in London. One such person is Anna Marly.

Anna was born Anna Yurievna Betulinskaya in Russia in 1917 into an aristocratic family. She fled the country after the death of her father at the hands of the Bolsheviks. She eventually settled in France and by the age of 17 was performing her own songs in the caberet clubs of Paris. She changed her name to Marly (apparently chosen from the phone book) because she found her family name was too difficult for the French to pronounce.

At the end of 1940 after the invasion and capitulation of  France, Marly escapes to London and makes contact with the Free French Forces.

She is still singing in clubs and is heard performing by Joseph Kessel and Maurice Druon who use one of her songs as the basis of the 'Chant des Partisans/Song of the Resistance'.

The French lyrics are written based on the original Russian lyrics and set to Anna's music. The song is played on BBC Radio, which is broadcast to occupied France, and becomes the unofficial French national anthem after the Nazi forces ban 'La Marseillaise'.

Ami, entends-tu le vol noir des corbeaux sur nos plaines ?
Ami, entends-tu les cris sourds du pays qu'on enchaîne ?
Ohé, partisans, ouvriers et paysans, c'est l'alarme.
Ce soir l'ennemi connaîtra le prix du sang et les larmes.

Montez de la mine, descendez des collines, camarades !
Sortez de la paille les fusils, la mitraille, les grenades.
Ohé, les tueurs à la balle et au couteau, tuez vite !es grenades.
Ohé, les tueurs à la balle et au couteau, tuez vite !
Ohé, saboteur, attention à ton fardeau : dynamite...

C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons pour nos frères.
La haine à nos trousses et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère.
Il y a des pays où les gens au creux des lits font des rèves.
Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue, nous on crève...

Ici chacun sait ce qu'il veut, ce qu'il fait quand il passe.
Ami, si tu tombes un ami sort de l'ombre à ta place.
Demain du sang noir sèchera au grand soleil sur les routes.
Chantez, compagnons, dans la nuit la Liberté nous écoute...

Ami, entends-tu ces cris sourds du pays qu'on enchaîne ?
Ami, entends-tu le vol noir des corbeaux sur nos plaines ?

Friend, do you hear the crows' dark flight over our plains?
Friend, do you hear the muffled cries of the country being shackled?
Ahoy! Resistants, workers and farmers, the alarm has sounded!
Tonight the enemy shall know the price of blood and tears.
Climb out of the mine, come down from the hills, comrades,
Take the guns, the machine guns and the grenades from under the straw;
Ahoy killers, with bullets and knives kill swiftly!
Ahoy "saboteur", be careful with your burden of dynamite!
We're the ones who break the bars of jails, for our brothers,
Hate pursuing us, it's hunger that drives us, dire poverty.
There are countries where people sleep in their beds and dream.
Here, you see, we walk and we kill and we die
Here, each one of us knows what he wants, what he does when he passes by;
Friend, if you fall, a friend comes from the shadows in your place.
Tomorrow, black blood will dry in the sun on the roads
Sing, companions, in the night, freedom listens to us.
After the war General de Gaulle said that Marly 'made her talent into a weapon for France' and it is suggested that her song should become the new French national anthem. In 1985 she is awarded the Légion d'Honneur/ Knight of the Legion of Honour in recognition of the part she played during WWII.