Album Songs and Lyrics

Barzh an ifern : I’ve been to Hell


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[lyrics, translation & facts for the 6th from our album >here<]

Yes, it’s the real title of the song!

Only the last 3 verses (translation bellow) of this very short piece are traditional. They’re not a song as such, they’re extra verses you may add to the end of another song when you’re singing for dancers and you feel that want to carry on a bit more. Simone learned them from her master Erik Marchand.

We like very much the way you can say/write in Breton, “I’ve been to hell” just like a very normal thing, a place where you can go and come back. Nowadays, things have changed of course, but the relation with the “other world” is still very strong, specially among the old generation.

Brittany, Brenilis
Brittany, Brenilis, entrance to the other world

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Although it may have a “belly dance” flavour, it’s still a Breton dance! The improvisation singing introduction part is more inspired by Kurdish impro like this one from Aynur Dogan:

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Music : Yann Gourvil

Instruments : ‘oud, darbuka, violin

Rythme : gavotte danse.

A live version from the same song:


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E pad an amzer ma yaouankiz, tro ar bed ‘m eus beajet / Istorioù ha kannaouennoù kalz anezho ‘m eus klevet

O nag a breman e deuit din a c’hoan da zisklerian / Da zisklerian istorioù kozh, Dre chañs e veoc’h kontant

Me zo bet barzh an infern e pad mizh gwengolo / O sirañ ar voutou d’an diaoul ha troc’hañ dezhan e varov 

Med pa oant erru eno me zo bet soueset, o wellañ an tud jentil peseurt mod e oen lakaet

Net ket ‘vel pe war an douar a barzh o chatoioù, oc’h evañ d’eus a gwinn mat, hag o kontañ marvalhou


When I was young I’ve been travelling around the world / I’ve heard so many stories and songs

And now I’m feeling like telling old stories, If I’m lucky enough, you even might enjoy them

I’ve been to hell last September, polishing the devil’s shoes and pulling his tail

But once I got there I was surprised to see how gentlemen were treated

It was not like when they were on earth living in their castles, drinking nice wine and telling unreal stories

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Notes: As usual, it’s a personal translation, with no attempt to translate the poetic style, it might not be fully accurate, the purpose is more to give an idea about what it is.

 Astrakan world music album on band camp

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