Words to La Madelon

Pour le repos le plaisir du militaire
Il est là-bas à deux pas de la forêt
Une maison aux murs tous couverts de lière
Aux Tourlourous c’est le nom du cabaret
La servante est jeune et gentille
Légère comme un papillon
Comme son vin son oeil petille
Nous l’appelons la Madelon
Nous en rêvous la nuit nous y pensons le jour
Ce n’est que Madelon mais pour nous c’est l’amour
Quand Madelon vient nous servir à boire
Sous la tonnelle on frôle son jupon
Et chacun lui raconte une histoire
Une histoire à sa façon
La Madelon pour nous n’est pas sevère
Quand on lui prend la taille ou le menton
Elle rit c’est tout l’mal qu’elle sait faire

Madelon, Madelon, Madelon

La Madelon (English translation)

For days off, the soldiers' pleasure
Is over there, just inside the forest
A house with walls covered in ivy
The Raw Soldiers is the name of the cabaret
The maid is young and pretty
Light as a butterfly
Her eyes sparkle like wine
We call her Madelon
We dream of her at night and think of her during the day
She is just Madelon but for us she is love
When madelon comes to serve our drinks
Under the table we graze her skirt
And everyone tells her a story
A story in their own way
Madelon is not severe to us
When one of us takes her waist or her chin
She laughs that's all the harm it can do

Madelon, Madelon, Madelon

Originally a popular song from World War I, 'La Madelon' was composed in 1914 by Camille Robert with lyrics by Louis Bousquet, and describes soldiers flirting with a young waitress. The song was so popular that it was translated into Spanish and into English by Alfred Bryan as 'Madelon, I'll be true to the whole regiment'.

The song was revived by the German-American singer Marlene Dietrich in 1939 to mark the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution on 14 July. The song also became popular to commemorate the end of World War I on 11 November each year. The French continued to celebrate this day throughout the war despite it being forbidden by the Germans. In 1940, 5,000 Parisian students gathered at the Arc de Triomphe. Three years later, a group of Maquis resistance fighters repeated the spectacle near Geneva in honour of those who had been killed in the struggle against the Nazis. Specific Resistance lyrics were also written as acts of defiance. Over two dozen versions were collected by musician Paul Arma following the Liberation, and are stored in his archives.

La Madelon sung by Benjamin Clark and accompanied by Daisy Fancourt.