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La Décadance Lyrics & Meaning (Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin)

La Décadance Lyrics & Meaning (Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin)
Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
Umberto Prizzi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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 Decadance lyrics

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.

Toujours translates to “always” in French. Sous means “under” and vers means “towards”. Both are prepositions. The verb emmener means “to take” (a person) and “to lead”.

Lointains translates to “far away place” and au-delà means “beyond”.

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”.

M’a perdue translates to lost me and is an example of the French passé composé, a commonly used past tense. Tu me tues means “you kill me”. The me is an example of an object pronoun.

Dis is the third-person singular form of the verb dire (to say, to tell). “M’aimes-tu?” means “Do you love me?”. The verb aimer means both “to like” and “to love”.

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.”

Dieu means god in French. The verb paronner can translate to “to forgive” and “to pardon”. The verb bercer has multiple translations including “to rock”, “to cradle” and “to lull”.

The verb blesser is a faux ami (false cognate). It means “to injure” or “to wound” and “to hurt”. The adjective égaré translates to “lost”.

La Décadance French lyrics and English translation

Contre moi
Non, pas comme ça

Turn around
Against me
No, not like that

Et danse
La décadance
Oui c’est bien
Bouge tes reins
Devant les miens

And dance
The decadence
Yes it’s good
Move your lower back
In front of mine

Reste là
Derrière moi
La décadanse
Que tes mains
Frôlent mes seins
Et mon cœur
Qui est le tien

Stay there
Behind me
The decadence
That your hands
Brush against my breasts
And my heart
Is yours

Mon amour
De toujours
La décadanse
Sous mes doigts
Vers de lointains

My love
Of always
The decadence
Under my fingers
Will bring you
Towards the distance

Des eaux troubles
Soudain troublent
Mes sens
La décadanse
M’a perdue
Ah, tu me tues
Mon amour
Dis, m’aimes-tu?

Troubled waters
Suddenly stirred up
My senses
The decadence
Lost me
Ah, you kill me
My love
Say, do you love me?

Je t’aimais
Déjà mais
La décadanse
Plus encore
Que notre mort
Lie nos âmes
Et nos corps

I loved you
Already but
The decadence
That our death
Links our souls
And our bodies

Dieu pardonnez nos
La décadanse
A bercé
Nos corps blessés
Et nos âmes égarées

God forgive our
The decadence
Our injured bodies
And our lost souls

Pardonnez nos offenses
La décadanse
A bercé
Nos corps blasés
Et nos âmes égarées

God forgive our
The decadence
Our weary bodies
And our lost souls

Listen to La Décadance on YouTube

You can also listen to the song on Spotify:

More French classic rock song lyrics:

All post by David Issokson

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on FrenchLearner, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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