La Décadance (Meaning: The decadence) was a hit song released in 1972 by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. Similar to Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus, La Décadance is racy in nature given the sexual innuendos of the lyrics. Keep reading as we provide the complete French lyrics and English translation with line-by-line analysis of the vocabulary and grammar.
La Décadance: Song title meaning
The song’s title, La Décadance, is a French play on words or pun for the word “decadence”, which according to the Oxford Dictionary means “moral or cultural decline as characterized by excessive indulgence in pleasure or luxury”.
The third syllable of the word décadance is “danse” (dance). In French, the nasal an (as in décadance) and nasal en as in décadence (decadence) have the same sound.
The lyrics describe or suggest a sexual encounter or “dance” between Gainsbourg and Birkin, with lines such as “Oui, c’est bien, bouge tes reins, lentement, devant les miens” (Yes, it’s good, more your lower back, slowly, in front of mine”.
Towards the end of the song the couple asks God for forgiveness their potentially sinful actions: “Dieu, Pardonnez nos offenses…Et nos âmes égarées” (God, forgive our offences…And our lost souls).
La Décadance lyrics analysis
In this section we provide detailed line-by-line analysis of the lyrics, looking at the vocabulary, verbs and grammar in detail.
Tourne-toi, non, contre moi, non, pas comme ça
This section translates to “turn around, no, against me, no, not like that”. Tourne-toi is the imperative mood for the reflexive verb se tourner (to turn oneself around). This page on our site explores the imperative mood in detail and this page explores reflexive verbs.
Non means no in French. Contre is a preposition meaning “against”. For French negation rules, ne + verb + pas translates to not + verb. In this line, pas simply means “not”. The word comme can translate to both “like” and “as”.
Et danse, la décadance, oui c’est bien, bouge tes reins, lentement, devant les miens
This section translate to “And dance, the decadence, yes it’s good, move your lower back, slowly, in front of mine.
Dance la décadance is a play on words for “Dance the decadence”. We interpret this as a cleverly crafted way of saying something to the effect of “Dance the sinful dance of making of love”.
C’est bien translates literally to “it’s well”. It can also translate loosely to “good job”. The verb bouger in French means “to move”. Rein is an interesting word as it can translate to “kidney” or “lower back”.
Devant is a preposition meaning “physically in front of”. Les miens is a possessive pronoun meaning “mine”.
Reste là, derrière moi, balance, la décadanse, que tes mains, frôlent mes seins, et mon cœur, qui est le tien
This section translates to “Stay there, behind me, balance, the decadence, that your hands, brush against my breasts, and my heart, is yours.”
Rester means “to stay” in French. This is not to be confused with se détendre, which means “to rest”. Derrière is a preposition and means “in back of” or “behind”. Moi is a stressed pronoun and translates to “me“.
The word que in this section translates to “that”. The verb frôler has several translations including “to brush” or “to graze”. Main means “hand” and “sein” means breast. This page on our site covers body part names in detail.
Mon coeur means “my heart”. Mon is a possessive adjective meaning “my”. Qui est in this line means “that is”. Est is the third-person singular form of être (to be). Le tien is a possessive pronoun meaning “yours”.
Mon amour, de toujours, patience, la décadanse, sous mes doigts, t’emmènera, vers de lointains, au-delà
This section translates to: “My love, of always, patience, the decadence, under my fingers, will bring you, towards the distance, beyond”.
Mon amour translates to “my love”. This page on our site covers French terms of endearment and love expressions.
Des eaux troubles, soudain troublent, mes sens, la décadanse, m’a perdue, ah, tu me tues, mon amour, dis, m’aimes-tu?
This section translates to “Troubled waters, suddenly stirred up, my senses, the decadence, lost me, ah, you kill me, my love, say, do you love me?.
Eaux troubles in French can translates to “troubled waters” or “murky waters”. Soudain is an adverb and means “suddenly”. The verb troubler can translates to “to stir” or “to arouse”.
Je t’aimais, déjà mais, nuance, la décadanse, plus encore, que notre mort, lie nos âmes, et nos corps
This section translates to: “I loved you, already but, nuance, the decadence, further, that our death, links our souls, and our bodies”.
Je t’aimais is an example of the French imperfect tense and can translate to “I used to love you”, “I was loving you” and “I loved you”.
Déjà translates to “already” and mais translates to “but”. Plus encore can translate to “even more” or “further”. The verb lier means “to tie together” or “to connect”. Âme has multiple translations including soul, spirit and heat. Corps means body in French.
Dieu pardonnez nos, offenses, la décadanse, a bercé, nos corps blessés, et nos âmes égarées
This section translates to: “God forgive our, offences, the decadence, lulled, our injured bodies, and our lost souls.”
La Décadance French lyrics and English translation
Non, pas comme ça
No, not like that
Oui c’est bien
Bouge tes reins
Devant les miens
Yes it’s good
Move your lower back
In front of mine
Que tes mains
Frôlent mes seins
Et mon cœur
Qui est le tien
That your hands
Brush against my breasts
And my heart
Sous mes doigts
Vers de lointains
Under my fingers
Will bring you
Towards the distance
Des eaux troubles
Ah, tu me tues
Suddenly stirred up
Ah, you kill me
Say, do you love me?
Que notre mort
Lie nos âmes
Et nos corps
I loved you
That our death
Links our souls
And our bodies
Dieu pardonnez nos
Nos corps blessés
Et nos âmes égarées
God forgive our
Our injured bodies
And our lost souls
Pardonnez nos offenses
Nos corps blasés
Et nos âmes égarées
God forgive our
Our weary bodies
And our lost souls
Listen to La Décadance on YouTube
You can also listen to the song on Spotify: