Songs of Liberty

In April 2014, I won a French songwriting competition organised by Chansons Sans Frontière. You can read more about it on my blog in English and French. The challenge was to write a song, In French, on the theme of Liberty. My winning submission was called 'La Tracteur Rouge de la Liberté'.

Here is the winning text in French.

Here is a video of the well-known French singer-songwriter François Lemonnier performing the song at the awards ceremony in Caen, France.

La Tracteur Rouge de la Liberté

But that's not all ! In order to write the song in French, I had first written an English version, and had then re-created it in French. This may sound like cheating, but it isn't really. You can't translate a song. It has to be recreated, which is almost like writing a new song. I HAVE attempted writing songs directly in French, but since I am not a native speaker, they invariable came out sounding bland and simplistic.  Writing it first in English simply helped me clarify my thoughts, and gave the song a richness it would not otherwise have had. The French version eventually turned out significantly different from the English one. For one thing, it rhymes! The English version is free-verse. Rhyming words is so much easier in French, that I was able to rhyme things that were impossible in the English.

But I liked the English version so much, I actually set it to music and recorded it myself. You can check out the recording below. ( I attempted recording the French version too, but it did not come out very well.  François Lemonnier's version above is so much better than mine.)

And that isn't all: I had actually written FIVE songs in English, on the theme of Liberty. I chose the one I thought would have the best chance of winning the contest, and submitted that one, in French. But frankly, I personally like all five songs. I plan to record the remaining songs too, and post them here. I'll collect them into an album called 'Songs of Liberty'.

Here now is the only one I've recorded till date. Check this page for the remaining songs (perhaps in a couple of months)...

The Red Tractor of Liberty

The song is about a group of slaves who manage to escape their owner on a red tractor. Frankly, I used the 'Red Tractor' motif simply because it gave the song a memorable catchphrase. But you can look on 'red tractor' as a kind of metaphor for technology, modernity or enlightened thought, each of which in some ways has helped humanity rid itself of ancient social evils. Anyway, I don't want to over-intellectualize. I simply wanted to write a positive, funny and enjoyable song on a difficult subject, without trivializing it. The jurists at Chanson Sans Frontière who voted for it clearly thought I had achieved my aims! Here are the English Lyrics