La Valse à Mille Temps

Album: La Valse à Mille Temps (1959)

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

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining Victims

Jay, Peaches, Spinderella and other Darrining VictimsSong Writing

Just like Darrin was replaced on Bewitched, groups have swapped out original members, hoping we wouldn't notice.

80s Video Director Jay Dubin

80s Video Director Jay DubinSong Writing

Billy Joel and Hall & Oates hated making videos, so they chose a director with similar contempt for the medium. That was Jay Dubin, and he has a lot to say on the subject.

Which Songs are About Drugs?

Which Songs are About Drugs?Fact or Fiction

"25 or 6 to 4" to "Semi-Charmed Life" - see if you can spot the songs that are really about drugs.

Barry Dean ("Pontoon," "Diamond Rings And Old Barstools")

Barry Dean ("Pontoon," "Diamond Rings And Old Barstools")Songwriter Interviews

A top country songwriter, Barry talks about writing hits for Little Big Town, Tim McGraw and Jason Aldean.

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce PavittSong Writing

The man who ran Nirvana's first label gets beyond the sensationalism (drugs, Courtney) to discuss their musical and cultural triumphs in the years before Nevermind.

Jonathan Cain of Journey

Jonathan Cain of JourneySongwriter Interviews

Cain talks about the divine inspirations for "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Faithfully."