La Valse à Mille Temps

Album: La Valse à Mille Temps (1959)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • The title of this song may be translated as "To Waltz To Thousand Times" or some such; an uncharacteristically light-hearted composition for Brel, it is probably best described as a Parisian love song. It is also a parody, of "Musetta's Waltz," its most notable feature being that it starts off very slowly but soon accelerates to such a degree that considerable verbal gymnastics are required.
  • When Brel was filmed recording this in 1959 - in an era before music videos - some clever camera work gave him the appearance of riding on a carousel. "Carousel" is in fact its English translation for the musical Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris, but the original is far superior, even for non-French speakers.
  • According to one Brel fan, he wrote "La Valse à Mille Temp" while traveling by car between Tangiers and Casablanca. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3

Comments: 1

  • Dave from Auckland, New ZealandThe title translates to "The waltz at [a] thousand time", meaning "the waltz played at a tempo of 1000 bpm (beats per minute)". That would be very fast. In fact the songs starts at about 90 bpm and ends at about 250. The title is also a complex pun. It can be read as "played a thousand times". This is suggested by the opening lyric which translates "the first time", then later "the second time" and "the third time", and then at a thousand time(s) "offers lovers only 333 times the time ...". The title can also be read as "in 1000 time" which would refer to the musical meter, a waltz normally being "in 3 time" (three beats to the bar). The lyric is actually riddled with puns. At times he sings what sounds like "a vingt temps" (at 20 time) but is actually "a vingt ans" (at 20 years). At 100 time he sings both forms ("a cent temps" and "a cent ans"). At 1000 time he also sings "une valse a mis l'temps" which sounds similar to "a waltz in 1000 time" but means "a waltz has the time ...".

see more comments

Editor's Picks

Shawn Mullins

Shawn MullinsSongwriter Interviews

"Lullaby" singer Shawn Mullins on "Beautiful Wreck," beating the Devil, and his writing credit on the Zac Brown Band song "Toes."

Yoko Ono

Yoko OnoSongwriter Interviews

At 80 years old, Yoko has 10 #1 Dance hits. She discusses some of her songs and explains what inspired John Lennon's return to music in 1980.

Kevin Godley

Kevin GodleySongwriter Interviews

Kevin Godley talks about directing classic videos for The Police, U2 and Duran Duran, and discusses song and videos he made with 10cc and Godley & Creme.

Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust

Lajon Witherspoon of SevendustSongwriter Interviews

The Sevendust frontman talks about the group's songwriting process, and how trips to the Murder Bar helped forge their latest album.

Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs

Richard Butler of The Psychedelic FursSongwriter Interviews

Psychedelic Furs lead singer Richard Butler talks about their first album since 1991 and explains what's really going on in "Pretty In Pink."

The Girl in That Song

The Girl in That SongFact or Fiction

Billie Jean, Delilah, Sara, Laura and Sharona - do you know who the girls in the songs really are?