Thursday, 16 July 2015

Le Chant L'Oignon (The Onion Song) lyrics

Ever since Jim Roche's singalong session at COW, the song sung by Napoleon's Old Guard has been going around and around in my head ... so here are the French and translated English lyrics:

French Lyrics
J'aime l'oignon frit à l'huile,
J'aime l'oignon car il est bon.
J'aime l'oignon frit à l'huile,
J'aime l'oignon, j'aime l'oignon.

Au pas camarades, au pas camarades,
Au pas, au pas, au pas,
Au pas camarades, au pas camarades,
Au pas, au pas, au pas.


Un seul oignon frit à l'huile,
Un seul oignon nous change en Lion,
Un seul oignon frit à l'huile,
Un seul oignon un seul oignon.

Au pas camarades, au pas camarades,
Au pas, au pas, au pas,
Au pas camarades, au pas camarades,
Au pas, au pas, au pas.


Mais pas d'oignons aux Autrichiens,
Non pas d'oignons à tous ces chiens,
Mais pas d'oignons aux Autrichiens,
Non pas d'oignons, non pas d'oignons.

Au pas camarades, au pas camarades,
Au pas, au pas, au pas,
Au pas camarades, au pas camarades,
Au pas, au pas, au pas.


Aimons l'oignon frit à l'huile,
Aimons l'oignon car il est bon,
Aimons l'oignon frit à l'huile,
Aimons l'oignon, aimons l'oignon.

Au pas camarades, au pas camarades,
Au pas, au pas, au pas,
Au pas camarades, au pas camarades,
Au pas, au pas, au pas.
English Lyrics
I like the onion fried in oil,
I like the onion when it is good,
I like the onion fried in oil,
I love the onion, I love the onion.

At walk comrades, at walk comrades,
At walk, at walk, at walk.
At walk comrades, at walk comrades,
At walk, at walk, at walk.


One onion fried in oil,
One onion changes us into a lion,
One onion fried in oil,
One single onion, one single onion.

At walk comrades, at walk comrades,
At walk, at walk, at walk.
At walk comrades, at walk comrades,
At walk, at walk, at walk.


But no onions to the Austrians,
No onions for all these dogs,
But no onions to the Austrians,
No onions, no onions.

At walk comrades, at walk comrades,
At walk, at walk, at walk.
At walk comrades, at walk comrades,
At walk, at walk, at walk.


Like the onion fried in oil,
Like the onion because it is good,
Like the onion fried in oil,
Like the onion, like the onion.

At walk comrades, at walk comrades,
At walk, at walk, at walk.
At walk comrades, at walk comrades,
At walk, at walk, at walk.

The English translation is the best I could get ... but at least it seems to fit in with the tune.

12 comments:

  1. The song is also a reference to Napoleon's favorite camp meal - potatoes and onions fried in oil.

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  2. Hi Bob!

    I find it amazing and amusing that the soldiers would get so fired up about an onion! One can only wonder what they would be able to accomplish if a moldy hardtack biscuit and a chunk of horse were also available! Yum-yum.

    Sounds like you had a good time at COW. How is the "Street Hole" coming along? Has it reached "Grand Canyon" status yet?!

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  3. Thanks for sharing this, I had to go find the tune, now its in my head!

    I'm sure you have plenty of French readers who can comment on the translation better than I but that rarely stops me!

    I think you may find 'car' better translated here as "because" they're good and the refrain "au pas" as "to the beat" (step) (as in pas de charge, the famous drum beat marking the cadence of the charge).

    Reminds me of marching to "C'est l'aviron qui nous mene en ronde" a little less martial than onions even, or "Auprès de ma blonde" a universal theme.
    Good stuff!

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  4. Update, I just found a utube vidro with a better translation of the refrain although along the same line. Literal translation often does not carry the meaning well. They have translated "Au Pas" as "To the charge" as in To the pas de charge. That fits and makes sense.

    I'll have to go mutter "With a toe roe roe " until I clear my head.

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  5. Thanks for posting that. I never heard of it before. Reminds me of one of my favorite American Civil War songs - Goober Peas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BcK3vR6bEc

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  6. Gonsalvo,

    That is my understanding about the origins of the song as well.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. Martin,

    You are absolutely right! They did prodigious things on the meagrest of rations.

    As to the bump that is now a hole ... well as far as I know, it is still there.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  8. Ross Mac,

    The tune is one of those ones that - once heard - seems to stick in your head.

    I think that you may right about 'car' being better translated as 'because'. It sounds right and scans correctly. I also think that 'au pas' would be better translated as 'step out' because it fits the music ... which is why I used 'at walk' in my version.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. Ross Mac,

    That translation makes sense, and does fit the music quite well.

    You are right about literal translation being a problem. It can sometimes lead to a considerable amount of confusion and/or humour.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  10. Kevin Kearney,

    I am pleased to have introduced you to this song, but be warned, it can be a bit of an ear worm!

    Soldiers often seemed to sing about things that affected their daily lives, and food seems to have been a favourite topic over the years whether it be onions or goober peas!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. Hello,

    I believe 'Lets walk comrades' is more commonly translated as 'Lets charge comrades!' Although the standard French advance pace would look painfully slow to modern eyes. the origin of the song is obscure but some believe the it comes from the battle of Marengo when Napoleon came upon some of his guard in a field, who were rubbing an onion on some bread as they only had one between them, Napoleon said it was a fine thing to make them advance to glory.

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  12. Rhandolph Stearman,

    That translation of 'au pas', makes perfect sense! Thank you for sharing it.

    All the best,

    Bob

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