Le monde est stone

Starmania cast and producers, 1988

Here’s this week’s song for a Saturday — voici ma chanson pour ce samedi.

If there is a song that defines my early days in France, it is this one. Stunning, heartbreakingly beautiful, yet somehow beyond my grasp.

“Why do they sing about the world being ‘stone’,” I asked my husband.

“Because it was the 70’s, everyone was high.”

“So why don’t they say ‘stoned’?”

“We don’t pronounce the ‘d’ in French.”

Hmm. This confuses me. Perhaps he is right but the lyrics mostly talk about the world being a cold, hard place, of being alone and looking for the light. Perhaps it is this very duality that makes the lyrics so enchanting.

This song was one of the biggest hits of the French rock opera, Starmania. We saw the French production in Paris, in 1988, with the second cast featuring a young Maurane, featured on this blog last week. Written by Michel Berger and Luc Plamondon, the musical went on to be adapted in English as ‘Tycoon’, with the lyrics of the English song, ‘The world is stone’ by Tim Rice, immortalized by Cyndi Lauper.

I am torn – which version of this song do I like best? Both are incredibly moving. The beauty of Fabienne Thibeault’s voice in the French version, the energy and originality of Cyndi Lauper’s version. I read that Michel Berger, who wrote the music, not only approved of Lauper’s version but even preferred it.

You decide.

J’ai la tête qui éclate
J’voudrais seulement dormir
M’étendre sur l’asphalte
Et me laisser mourir
Stone
Le monde est stone
Je cherche le soleil
Au milieu de la nuit
J’sais pas si c’est la Terre
Qui tourne à l’envers
Ou bien si c’est moi
Qui m’fait du cinéma
Qui m’fait mon cinéma
Je cherche le soleil
Au milieu de ma nuit
Stone
Le monde est stone
J’ai plus envie d’me battre
J’ai plus envie d’courir
Comme tous ces automates
Qui bâtissent des empires
Que le vent peut détruire
Comme des châteaux de cartes
Stone
Le monde est stone
Laissez moi me débattre
Venez pas m’secourir
Venez plutôt m’abattre
Pour m’empêcher d’souffrir
J’ai la tête qui éclate
J’voudrais seulement dormir
M’étendre sur l’asphalte
Et me laisser mourir

Stone, the world is stone
It’s no trick of the light, it’s hard on the soul
Stone, the world is stone, cold to the touch
And hard on the soul in the gray of the streets
In the neon unknown, I look for a sign
That I’m not on my own, that I’m not here alone
As the still of the night and the choke of the air
And the winners’ delight and the losers’ despair
Closes in left and right, I would love not to care
Stone, the world is stone from a faraway look
Without stars in my eyes through the halls of the rich
And the flats of the poor wherever I go
There’s no warmth anymore
There’s no love anymore
So I turn on my heels, I’m declining the fall
I’ve had all I can take with my back to the wall
Tell the world I’m not in, I’m not taking the call
Stone, the world is stone but I saw it once
With the stars in my eyes when each color rang out
In a thunderous chrome, it’s no trick of the light
I can’t find my way home in a world of stone

Which one do you prefer?

23 comments

  1. phildange · May 18, 2019

    You wouldn’t be surprised my prederence goes to the world when it is a rolling stone 😉

    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwOfCgkyEj0)

    • MELewis · May 18, 2019

      Not surprised! And I think I know where Michel Berger got his inspiration…🤔

      • phildange · May 18, 2019

        No this time it wasn’t me, I was busy inspiring Keith Richards, had to subcontract Berger to a female muse, sorry .

  2. midihideaways · May 18, 2019

    I think I prefer Fabienne’s version over Cindy’s – there’s something about her voice that is fragile and yet steely.

    • MELewis · May 18, 2019

      Yes, her voice is so present and there is something so true about her rendition that gets me too.

  3. pedmar10 · May 18, 2019

    Oui bien sûr stone ce le franglais très populaire avec les jeunes…encore aujourd’hui

    • MELewis · May 18, 2019

      Lol. Le franglais and its choice of words throws me every time! 😏

  4. 355101pkl · May 18, 2019

    Thank you for this beautiful song. I loved both versions and really can’t say which one i preferred. I also like Bob Dylan but found it impossible to listen to Rolling Stone immediately after these two versions as it was like chalk and cheese, Completely different tones or if you like ,stones, which your ears needs time to adjust to

    • phildange · May 18, 2019

      I understand . I just wanted to remember something “higher” that what my peers used to call “variétés” . Pardon my snobbery …😊

      • MELewis · May 18, 2019

        If I were your prof I would have given you an ‘hors sujet’! but I always enjoy and appreciate your comments! 🤓

      • phildange · May 18, 2019

        I’m a desperate bad boy, thanks for your magnanimity, Mistress .

      • 355101pkl · May 18, 2019

        Absolutely no snobbery. The Berger song puts you in a different sort of mood .
        .Bob Dylan takes me to another dimension. Folk cafes , Motorbikes ,travelling on the road, Woodie Guthrie, Pete Seeger anti Vietnam war marches , the time he went electric at Newport and got booed and so on . There’s so much there . For me i have to think of the times and be in the mood to recall it all. Then I will listen and remember and feel it all surge back and play Forever Young with a hint of a tear in my eye.and a smile on my face

      • phildange · May 18, 2019

        I am fond of your references mate ! All of them 😎

      • MELewis · May 18, 2019

        😎

    • MELewis · May 18, 2019

      Glad you enjoyed both! 🙏🏻

  5. Becky Ross Michael · May 18, 2019

    I liked them both, but especially enjoyed the more haunting quality in the French version.

    • MELewis · May 21, 2019

      Interesting! Sounds like the French version is winning the popular vote… 😇

  6. Dale · May 20, 2019

    Fabienne all the way! Though I will grudgingly admit that Cyndi’s version is pretty good too 😉

    • MELewis · May 21, 2019

      Well, of course, you might have a slight bias, n’est-ce pas? 🧐…but agree, it is a winner. I always had a soft spot for Cyndi Lauper’s quirkiness though.

      • Dale · May 21, 2019

        I might… though I do like Cyndi’s quirkiness too.

  7. Mél@nie · June 2, 2019

    Cindi for ever… ❤

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