Translation of MC Solaar’s Caroline

Have you found your ace of spaces yet?

MC Solaar’s Caroline is a spectacular, poetic, and profound song about love and loss. The poetry of the lyrics comes from word play rather than straight rhyme. MC Solaar sings la vie est un jeu de cartes (life is a game of cards) and weaves into the story of his break up with an ex lots of word play related to card and gambling. I’ve tried to replicate this is English. See the video and lyrics below and let me know what you think, of the orignal or the translation.
 
 

English lyrics:

I was chilling, sitting on a bench,
It was spring, and
Two lovers gather daisies.
Overdosed on tenderness
They play like children
I love you a little… lots… madly passionate…
But after a deception of the heart,
My good mood became brutal
But to hate another is not our right
Chernobyl
Cherno–[im]becile
Jealousy’s radioactive.

Caroline was a friend, a super fine girl
I think again of her, of us, of our vanilla ice creams
Of her cravings for strawberry, raspberry and blueberry,
Of her endless talk, of her tacky style.
I’m the ace of clubs that trumps [spade] your heart
The ace of clubs that trumps your heart…
The ace of clubs that trumps your heart…
Caroline…

Like the four-leaf clover [spade], I seek your happiness,
I’m the man who fell in time to take your heart
Let’s not gamble with this
Caro [diamond], this message comes from the heart,

A pyramid of kisses,
A storm of friendship,
A wave of feeling,
A cyclone of softness,
An ocean of thoughts,
Caroline, I offered you a
 bâtiment of tenderness.


My fears are deep blue,
The red army is on my tail
I took out green bills for you,
I had to move to prevail,
Fire-starter of your heart,
Fighter-pilot of your fears,
I offered you a symphony of colours.

She left, masochist, with an old macho,
That she’d met in a station on the metro
When I see them hand-in-hand smoking the same cigarette,
I feel a flush in her heart, but she daren’t say a word.
I’m the ace of clubs that trumps your heart
The ace of clubs that trumps your heart…
The ace of clubs that trumps your heart…
Caroline…

MC Claude on the microphone, with a love story ragamuffin style
To tell you about a girl-friend called Caroline
She was my girl, my hit, she was my vitamin,
My drug, my dope, my coke, my crack, and my amphetamine
Caroline…
I think of her again, cosmopolitan, 20 years young and pretty,
Let me rewind the film on life’s video player,
Should I admit, for her tears have fallen -
Ocular haemorrhage…

A toast to our friendship,
To the past, the present, and I hope of the future,
I passed to be present in your future
This life’s a game of cards,
And Paris [bet] a casino,
I’m with the reds, heart,
Caro [diamond].

I’m the ace of clubs that trumps your heart…
Caro,
The ace of clubs that trumps your heart…
The ace of clubs that trumps your heart…
Caroline…
etc.

Words in square brackets are where there’s a play on words in the original French that I couldn’t translate. The playing cards word play is beautifully interwoven into the original text: Caro – sounds like diamond in French – and the line I’ve translated at ‘The ace of clubs that trumps your heart’ (L’as de trèfle qui pique ton cœur) is literally, ‘The ace of clubs that stings (also ‘spade’) your heart’. My favouite verse in the original is the pyramid/ storm/ wave/ cyclone and the symphony of colours one which I think are real poetry!

Leave a comment, let me know what you think any tips from francophones to improve the translation most welcome.

Original French paroles can be found here: http://www.paroles.net/chanson/12301.1, another English translation is here: http://www.lyricsdir.com/mc-solaar-caroline-lyrics.html

 

32 Responses

  1. Hey there ! thanks for the translation ! I’ve loved this song for over a decade now, and never known exactly what it means because my French is really bad. Reading the lyrics and listening to the song at the same time was really great because I understood quite a bit more … and now I love this song even more because the lyrics are truly amazing. In my opinion one of the coolest love songs out there “

  2. Thanks for the translation!

  3. Great work! It’s really, really difficult to translate his songs. It’s not just knowing French, you got to be French to really make head or tails of some of the lyrics.
    I was fortunate enough to visit 2 of his concerts in Belgium (I live in Holland) and it was wonderfull. He still is treated like a god over there. The venue in Brussels sold out completely.

    Solaar rules!

  4. So Old school HIP-HOP !!! So good text !

    Mc Solar stays a great french HIPHOP singer.
    So wonderfull texto… About love …

    for french: Plus de 10 ans ce texte prends toujours aux trippes !!!! il est tjrs aussi merveilleux, sonne tjrs aussi juste !!!

    I’m still a Fan!!

    Thks Claude !!!

    Damien

  5. Thank you very much!!

    Great song!

    Olga

  6. Thanks for the translation.
    It’s very difficult to translate the text because it’s very metaphoric !

  7. Great stuff! One additional note – when he says the line “Je pense à elle, femme actuelle, 20 ans, jeune et jolie” he’s not only praising her femininity but also making reference to four popular French women’s magazines. Just an amazing song…

  8. ‘The ace of clubs that trumps your heart’ (L’as de trèfle qui pique ton cœur) is literally, ‘The ace of clubs that stings (also ’spade’) your heart’.

    I always thought this was ‘The ace of clubs that steals your heart’.

    ‘piquer’ being French slang for to steal / rob / nick

    ??

  9. or even

    ‘The ace of clubs who steals your heart’.

    as it is he (Solaar) who is stealing Caroline’s heart (but it’s unrequited).

    • Thanks hoospa – good suggestion. I guess with using ‘trumps’ I was trying to put in another reference to cards, but maybe it’s more clear saying ‘steals’ as you suggest.

  10. one of his best songs ever…thx for the translation!

  11. Hi there,

    really a great job you’ve done there. It helped me a lot. But still one thing baffles me with the lyrics.
    Solaar sings about Caroline, but in my booklet after the line “L’as de trèfle qui pique ton cœur” the name Caroline is written with a hyphen Caro-line. I was looking all over the internet what a Caro-line is in french but no luck. I thought a Caro-line means flatline, a cardiac arrest. Like he loves her so much she stabbed his heart (figuratively) and without out her, he can’t live. Can you shed some light on this.

    • i think its because he wants to reference all the card suits….trefle=clubs, pique= spades, coeur=heart, caro= diamonds henc L’as du trefle qui pique ton coeur, caro-line

    • Hi Marcus, I think the others have replied to this, but Caro means diamond, and it’s another of Solaar’s wordplays.

  12. I first heard this song when I lived in France nearly 20 years ago and have never forgotten it – this is the answer to anyone who thinks hip-hop is mindless. I think this would be a great song to use in a language class – such fun to translate. Thanks for the memories!

  13. THX!!!

  14. I have been an MC Solaar fan since I heard Le Bien, Le Mal, but have been out of the music scene for a long time. What a great song!
    – mais si, mon vrai nom est caroline

  15. Thank you for the translation… such a beautiful and poetic song, and a wonderful artist :)

  16. I’m french and i can tell you that mc solaar has always used a lot of word plays. it’s part of his touch. We can’t have a song of him without this. The translation is good but sometimes you loose ideas and sense. Some lyrics are untranslatable.

    He was very famous in the 90’s. Now, things have changed because les temps changent : http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2845014472993777391#

  17. Caro-line is a word play. Caroline is a name and “caro” is diamonds (cards) in french.

  18. elle, femme actuelle, 20 ans, jeune et jolie, are four titles of magazines.

    • Thanks for this. I tried to replicate this by saying ‘Cosmopolitan’ which is one of the most popular girls magazines in the UK, but couldn’t fit in four!

  19. Merci beaucoup pour la traduction! That’s the first words of french I’ve written to anyone, ever..
    I’m studying french, and I’ve always liked this song, but now that I know what’s being said. I honestly think this is one of, if not my favorite song of all time. The emotion that this evokes is just tremendous.

    I have one question though, the last part, were he says he hopes for futur friendship, and than he says:

    La vie est un jeu d’cartes,
    Paris un casino
    Je joue les rouges… coeur

    I play red, heart.. Does he mean he’s still hoping for her. I mean since he says that he hopes for friendship, but at the same moment he’s saying that he know’s it’s a game, and he’s playing red, love and heart(s).
    He mentions coeur multiple times, but it’s most heavily present in the chorus, were he says that he stings her heart.
    He knows she has / had feelings for him.

    I thought maybe he’s hoping to hope/bet/play on the feelings she has for him, hoping for the futur???

  20. Yeah I’m so in to this poem that I just have to speak my mind.
    What I said over is, in my opinion reinforced by what he says just prior; I passed, to be present in your future.
    And also he’s last word after;
    Je joue les rouges… coeur

    is caro, so it’s

    Je joue les rouges… coeur, caro

    She’s the diamond, so mentioning her at the end, where he says he plays (for) love, it’s her he’s still playing for..

    Maybe this is super obvious to everybody, but I didn’t see it straight away though..

    • I agree, it’s great wordplay, and I found that it was only when I sat down to translate it that I realise all the amazing things he did with the words.

  21. And of course, as someone over here mentioned, piquer is slang for steal, so the chorus suddenly has double meaning, because, he wants to steal back her heart.
    The chorus now says

    …”that steals your heart”
    at the same time as
    …”that stings your heart”

  22. I’m listening to MC Solaar for a decade now, do not speak (or understand) French at all, but it sounds really cool ! It is really hard to find translation to his songs so THANKS for this one ! Normally, my French speaking friends translate the lyrics for me, but as they say: it is really hard to get it right.
    Greetings from Bulgaria!
    Good job ! :)

  23. I saw your blog when I was browsing for something unrelated, but this page showed up at the top of Google your website must be incredibly popular! Continue the awesome job!

  24. BEAUTIFUL SONG OF MY NAME….THIS IS MY SONG…..FOR MY 20 YEARS…LOVE IT…:*

  25. […] Translation (Thanks to Will): […]

  26. What’s the name of the girl in the video clip, she looks very familiar.

    Thanks

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