Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | February 11, 2007

80s Music Video Sunday #10

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned how interesting I find it when certain songs or artists are immensely popular on one side of the Atlantic, while that same artist has, for whatever reason, not achieved any level of status whatsoever on the other side of the ocean. While this is often true for songs sung in English, I would hasten to guess that it would be even more accurate with regard to songs sung in other languages. While the times may be changing (especially with regard to Spanish-language music, which has always maintained a certain degree of popularity in regions with high numbers of Spanish speakers like South Florida, parts of Southern California, New York City, parts of Texas, and so on), Americans have generally shown little interest in songs not sung in English. Some artists have even recorded two (or more) versions of certain songs – one in their native language and one in English, most likely to help them break into the American market. I’ll be profiling at least two of them in the future, so the only clue I’ll give you now about these artists is that the non-English versions of their songs are in German.

Today’s song is different. As far as I know, there is no English-language version, and I don’t remember ever hearing it while growing up in the US. Recorded in 1988, it was terribly popular here in Israel, and given that the song is in French, I’m guessing that it was quite popular throughout much of Europe. The artist who recorded today’s song began her ascent to stardom as a teenager in the early sixties in France. In 1965, our young artist, representing Luxembourg, took first place in the Eurovision song contest with the catchy tune “Poupée de cire, poupée de son” and the video of that performance can be found here. Many Israelis tend to become rather giddy when it comes to Eurovision, waxing nostalgically about previous competitions and entries from Israel and abroad, and it was thanks to one of the many Eurovision-related television productions that I discovered “Poupée de cire, poupée de son”, and thanks to a bit of detective work, I succeeded in uncovering the connection between that song and today’s song, which all Israelis of a certain age seem to be quite fond of. Being of that same age, I took an immediate liking to the song, and its video has been bookmarked on my computer for some time now. So now, without further ado, I present you with today’s 80s music video, recorded by France Gall, as a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald.

Ella, elle l’a
France Gall (Music and lyrics by Michel Berger)

C’est comme une gaieté
Comme un sourire
Quelque chose dans la voix
Qui paraît nous dire “viens”
Qui nous fait sentir étrangement bien
C’est comme toute l’histoire
Du peuple noir
Qui se balance
Entre l’amour et l’désespoir
Quelque chose qui danse en toi
Si tu l’as, tu l’as
Ella, elle l’a
Ce je n’sais quoi
Que d’autres n’ont pas
Qui nous met dans un drôle d’état
Ella, elle l’a Ella, elle l’a Ou ou ou ou ou ou ou
Elle a, ou ou ou ou ou ou ou, cette drôle de voix
Elle a, ou ou ou ou ou ou ou, cette drôle de joie
Ce donne du ciel qui la rend belle
Ella, elle l’a Ella, elle l’a
Elle a, ou ou ou ou ou ou ou
Ella, elle l’a Elle a, ou ou ou ou ou ou ou
Elle a ce tout petit supplément d’âme
Cet indéfinissable charme
Cette petite flamme
Tape sur des tonneaux
Sur des pianos
Sur tout ce que dieu peut te mettre entre les mains
Montre ton rire ou ton chagrin
Mais que tu n’aies rien, que tu sois roi
Que tu cherches encore les pouvoirs qui dorment en toi
Tu vois ça ne s’achète pas
Quand tu l’as tu l’as
Ella, elle l’a
Ce je n’sais quoi
Que d’autres n’ont pas
Qui nous met dans un drôle d’état
Ella, elle l’a Ella, elle l’a …
And in English (albeit unofficial, courtesy of The Honorable)
Ella, Elle L’a – Ella, She Has It

It’s like a joyfulness
like a smile
something in the voice
that seems to tell us, “Come,”
that makes us feels curiously well

It’s like the entire history
of the black nation
that teeters
between love and despair;
something that dances within you
If you have it, you have it

Ella, she has it
What, I don’t quite know
Something that others don’t have,
that puts us in a funny state
Ella, she has it
Ella, she has it
Ou-ou ou-ou ou-ou ou
She has, ou-ou ou-ou ou-ou ou, this funny voice
She has, ou-ou ou-ou ou-ou ou, this funny joy
this gift from the sky that makes her beautiful

Ella, she has it
Ella, she has it
She has, ou-ou ou-ou ou-ou ou
Ella, she has it
She has, ou-ou ou-ou ou-ou ou

She has this little flicker of spirit
this undefinable charm
this tiny flame

Bang on drums
on pianos
on anything that God can put between your hands
Show your laughter or your sorrow
May you own nothing, may you be king
may you still search for the powers that sleep within you
You see that that cannot be bought
When you have it, you have it

Ella, she has it
What, I don’t quite know
Something that others don’t have
That puts us in a funny state
Ella, she has it
Ella, she has it…

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Responses

  1. Don’t understand a word!!
    Very eighties, none-the-less! Need to go check out her 1965 Eurovision contribution! That should be a real hoot! Happy Sunday, everyone!

  2. I like those lyrics. And wouldn’t it be nice to have someone say about you: Elle, elle l’a….

  3. My goodness I’m mightily impressed that you could track this one down! Staple of every cheesy Israeli dancefloor.

  4. Yep, quite catchy and very French sounding. Occasionally we get these hits in the UK from Europe. Some that spring to mind, apart from obvious successes like Abba, A-ha and The Scorpions etc are: Vanessa Paradis and Nena.

  5. Oh, My G-d. You just took me back 20 years (and made me feel my age in the process).
    I second PP, I am amazed that you were able to track this one down. Plus I had no idea that it was a tribute to Ella Fitgerald, learn something new every day.

    Now for a challange…big hit in Israel circa 1987, lyrics went…”Boom boom boom, lets go back to my room…….” . Very much doubt it made it past the censors in the US, but you were on kibbutz in ’87 so I am going to bet you know the one I am talking about.

  6. nrg: Note that I’ve now added an English translation of the song – not translated by me, of course, given that I don’t know French.

    My Marrakech: Having had the wonderful opportunity to get to know you via your blog, I wouldn’t be surprised if people were saying that about you!

    TAFKA: We aim to please!

    Actually disaster almost struck. I had the YouTube version of the video bookmarked for well over a year and checked out frequently, up through last Thursday. Last week, I decided that this week’s entry would be this song, so I wrote the post this morning, and unusually, it came quite easily. Pasted it into Blogger (having learned the hard way never to do the actual writing in Blogger), and then when I went to collect the link on YouTube to embed the video, they had taken it down. After swearing like a trucker for a few minutes, I searched the internet until I found the clip elsewhere. Can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I was!

    Life out East: Admittedly, I haven’t heard of all the artists you mentioned, but some of them will definitely be featured here at some point in the near future.

    Lisoosh: When I first started looking for it over a year ago, it was difficult, because I started off knowing only that it was a song in French performed by an artist who had won at Eurovision in the 60s. Not a lot to go on, needless to say, especially as my knowledge of French was nil, and I could barely get the name of the song. Slowly, I managed to put all the pieces together, until I found all the info I needed, and tracked it down.

    “Boom boom boom, let’s go back to my room. We can do it all night…” I will find it for you, and that’s a promise.

  7. Oh, this is too funny! Like you, I never heard that song til I moved here but liked it from the first time I heard it and always enjoy it when it comes on the radio.

    I NEVER KNEW THAT SONG WAS ABOUT ELLA FITZGERALD! I thought “Ella” was a French word- it never occured to me that it was the NAME Ella! Thanks for the background on the song and the singer.

  8. Paul Lekakis… Singer of Boom Boom Boom let’s go back to my room, so we can do it all night and you can make me feel right… scary that I know that…

  9. Oh I love this song! Thanks! Thye Portuguese used to become very giddy about the Eurovision contest – I still remember my best friend and me staring open-mouthed at the telly in disbelief when Khan did NOT win. HOW? The costumes, the hair, the choreography. It’s all beyond me.

  10. nrg – it is sad that you know that, but great too. YouTube is now my friend:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdutsg1tZas

  11. lisoosh,

    that man needs some new dance moves!! Scary! Don’t know why I knew it…must have been that crazy international AFS crowd that Liza and I hung with back in the 80’s!!


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