When I Took my Horse to Water (Quand je menai mes chevaux boire)

Trad. Breton, Arr. na-mara, Translation: P McNamara

Without a shadow of a doubt, Gabriel Yacoub is a giant of French music. He is equally comfortable with playing traditional and contemporary music. He is a superb musician, songwriter and director. This track has been taken from his work with the French folk rock band, prominent in the 1970s, ‘Malicorne’. In its original, Quand Je Menai Mes Chevaux Boire, is taken from the 1976 album ‘Almanach’. The song originates from Normandy but is also known in Brittany. Here we have chosen deliberately not to break the relentless realisation of disaster by placing any musical break within the song. As with much French traditional music, it is a bird - in this case a cuckoo - that delivers the devastating news.

Quand je menai mes chevaux boire,
Ilaire ilaire itou ilaire ilaire oh ma nanette
Quand je menai mes chevaux boire
J’entendis le coucou chanter
J’entendis le coucou chanter

When I took my horse to water
Ilaire ilaire itou ilaire ilaire, oh ma nanette
When I took my horse to water
I heard the cuckoo sing
I heard the cuckoo sing

And she told me in her language
Ilaire ilaire itou ilaire ilaire, oh ma nanette
She told me in her language
That my own dear love was gone
That my own dear love was gone

Oh, what foolishness is this?
Ilaire ilaire itou ilaire ilaire, oh ma nanette
What foolishness is this?
For we danced just yesterday
We danced just yesterday

But when I rode out on the moor
Ilaire ilaire itou ilaire ilaire, oh ma nanette
But when I rode out on the moor
I heard the church bells ring
I heard the church bells ring

And when I raced into the churchyard
Ilaire ilaire itou ilaire ilaire, oh ma nanette
And when I raced into the churchyard
I heard the young priests sing
I heard the young priests sing

And when I lay down by your graveside
Ilaire ilaire itou ilaire ilaire, oh ma nanette
And when I lay down by your graveside
Awake my love and rise!
Awake my love and rise!

My love I neither sleep nor dream
Ilaire ilaire itou ilaire ilaire,oh ma nanette
My love I neither sleep nor dream
But wait here below for you
But wait here below for you

I have a place here next to me
Ilaire ilaire itou ilaire ilaire, oh ma nanette
I have a place here next to me
That I will keep safe by for you
That I will keep safe by for you

Quand je menai mes chevaux boire,
Ilaire ilaire itou ilaire ilaire oh ma nanette
Quand je menai mes chevaux boire
J’entendis le coucou chanter
J’entendis le coucou chanter

(Traditional Breton: arranged na-mara)
track number: 
4