Douze belles dans la peau*

When you've had your twelve beauties
Two duchesses and ten secretaries
What will you have gained if not
A little bit of lead

A little bit of trouble
And not much in the head**

When you've blown your dough
Recklessly in all the night clubs
You'll never be more than a pigeon
With a little lead

A little bit of trouble
And not much in the head

When in the fires of passion
On the ladders of nylon tights
You'll climb you'll climb
After what will you have

You'll have trouble
And not much in the head

When you've loved whoever comes your way
And your chicks don't have any more teeth
To eat your heart out of your hand
Well then, you smart aleck

You'll have trouble
And not much in the head

And when you've passed your life
Behind the bars of your bed

You'll say that you've had your laughs
Well yes and what after

You'll have some trouble
And not much in the head

But maybe you won't grow old
With your twelve beauties
One day you'll run across a guy
A guy who'll send you

Some lead in the head
And he'll give you wings

Quand t'auras douze belles dans la peau
Deux duchesses et dix dactylos
Qu'est ce que t'auras de plus sinon
Sinon qu'un peu de plomb

Un peu de plomb dans l'aile
Pas plus dans la cervelle

Quand t'auras claqué ton grisbi
Dans toutes les boîtes à coups d'fusil
Tu n'seras jamais qu'un pigeon
Avec un peu de plomb

Un peu de plomb dans l'aile
Pas plus dans la cervelle

Quand dans le feu de la passion
Aux échelles des bas nylon
Tu grimperas tu grimperas
Après qu'est-ce que t'auras

T'auras du plomb dans l'aile
Pas plus dans la cervelle

Quand t'auras aimé à tous vents
Et que tes poules n'auront plus de dents
Pour te bouffer l'coeur dans la main
Eh ben mon gros malin

T'auras du plomb dans l'aile
Pas plus dans la cervelle

Et quand t'auras passé ta vie
Derrière les barreaux de ton lit

Tu diras qu'tu t'en es payé
Eh oui et puis après

T'auras du plomb dans l'aile
Pas plus dans la cervelle

Mais peut-être bien qu'tu n'feras pas de vieux os
Avec tes douze belles dans la peau
Tu tomberas un jour sur un gars
Un gars qui t'enverra

Du plomb dans la cervelle
Et il t'poussera des ailes

*"Douze belles dans la peau" litterally means Twelve beauties in the skin. In French, to "have someone in the skin" means to be in love with them. So the title might mean something about being in love with twelve women at once. The trick is that there is a commen way of saying that someone has been shot that is quite close to the title. "Douze balles dans la peau" would mean to have been shot twelve times. The difference of one vowel creates an interesting image that, while untranslatable in English, is not lost on any French person, especially given the subject matter of the song.

**This is a very difficult idea to convey. Plomb is the word for lead, but the same word is used here in three different expressions. The first time is literal, plomb can be translated by lead. The second one is an idiomatic expression for being in serious trouble. "Avoir du plomb dans l'aile" means to have lead in the wings, an old expressionfrom hunting which means, if said of someone, that their reputation or health has suffered a blow. If a bird has lead in its wings it has been shot. "Avoir du plomb dans la cervelle" means "To have lead in the brain," or to be capable. The last use of "Du plomb dans la cervelle", however, is an unexpected twist, a more literal use of the expression. It litterally means "lead in the head," as in the lead of a bullet.

English translation ©2006 Alex Chabot