L’aigle noir

L’Aigle Noir” is probably the best known song written and performed by Barbara. The interpretation of the song has been a key issue in recent years, particularly since the release of her incomplete memoirs written the year she died (1997).

Alors qu’elle finalise un nouvel album en 1970, Barbara se rend compte qu’il lui manque un titre. Elle retrouve dans le tiroir d’une commode un texte écrit quelques années plus tôt, à la suite d’un rêve dans lequel elle avait vu un aigle descendre sur elle. Elle se met au piano et compose une musique sur ce texte en s’inspirant d’une sonate de Beethoven.

Interprétations du sens du texte :
Une interprétation psychanalytique de la chanson a été proposée par Philippe Grimbert. Selon cette interprétation, la chanson décrit un rêve de Barbara, rêve dans lequel elle dort au bord d’un lac, jusqu’à ce qu’un aigle noir fasse irruption dans le ciel, troublant son sommeil. Barbara reconnaît cet aigle comme un personnage émergeant de ses souvenirs d’enfance, sans dire à l’auditeur de la chanson quel est ce personnage. Dans ses mémoires posthumes inachevés, Il était un piano noir… (1997), Barbara révèle qu’elle a eu à supporter le comportement incestueux de son père pendant son enfance mais, à aucun moment, elle n’établit de lien entre cette chanson et son père.

Published on Oct 11, 2014   Paroles de la musique L’aigle noir de Barbara. License – Standard YouTube License


One day or maybe one night
Near a lake, I fell asleep
When suddenly, it seemed to pierce the sky
And bolting from the blue appeared a black eagle.

Slowly, spreading its wings
Slowly, I could see it twirling
Near me rustling its wings
As if it fell from the sky it came and settled

Its eyes had the color of ruby
And its wings had the color of the night
And on its sparkling forehead
The crowned bird wore a blue diamond

It touched my cheek with its beak
And it slipped its neck into my hand
And then, I recognized it
Popping up from the past, I remembered

Oh tell me, bird, take me away
Let’s go back to our old land
Life before in my childish dreams
To pick up, shivering, some stars, some stars

Like before in my childish dreams
Life before on a white cloud
Like before lighting up the sun
And be a rainmaker and do marvels

The black eagle, rustlings its wings,
Flew off to go back to the sky.

(Four feathers with the color of the night
One teardrop or maybe a ruby
I was cold, there was nothing left of me
The bird left me alone with my sorrow)

(Note: This verse was in the original recording only.
The popularised version left it out)

One day or was it one night
Near a lake, I fell asleep
When suddenly, it seemed to pierce the sky
And bolting from the blue appeared a black eagle.

English Lyrics: (Note: translating French lyrics to English can never do justice to the nuances of meaning found in the original text but the translation is provided here simply as a guide to what the singer/songwriter is saying. (by Adamfulgence)

Monique Andrée Serf, known as Barbara, took her stage name from her Russian grandmother, Varvara Brodsky.
She was deeply scarred by the war and her family’s plight. During the German occupation the family took refuge in several localities in France; in 1942 they had to flee from one place after they were denounced as Jews.

Her inner feelings of emptiness experienced at this stage in her life showed in her appearance and in her songs, It is reported by Barbara in her incomplete autobiography that, her father abused her many years starting at age 10. Thus, the war and the family situation contributed to the lyrics found in her songs (“L’Aigle Noir” being one of them) most of which can be considered autobiographical.

Barbara will be remembered for her intensely poetic lyrics, her dramatic on-stage performances and her incredible voice. This intensely private woman whose personal life was enshrouded in mystery right to the end of her life, will always hold a very special place in French music history.

Note: This text was uploaded to YouTube on Jan 15, 2011 by Adamfulgence