Erik Satie: Je te veux
Erik Satie’s instantly recognisable Je te veux was originally scored for voice and piano, however, over the years this well-loved melody has also been scored for chamber orchestra, and most famously – solo piano. Translated into English, the title simply means ‘I Want You’, and the original song was performed by soprano Paulette Darty. The text for Je te veux is by Henry Pacory. The original French lyrics (with English translations) can be seen below:
J’ai compris ta détresse/I understand your distress Cher amoureux/Dear lover Et je cède à tes voeux/And I yield to your wishes Fais de moi ta maîtresse/Make me your mistress Loin de nous la sagesse/Far from us is wisdom Plus de tristesse/No more sadness J’aspire à l’instant précieux/I look forward to the beautiful Où nous serons heureux/When we will be happy Je te veux/I want you
Je n’ai pas de regrets/I have no regrets Et je n’ai qu’une envie/And I have only one desire Près de toi là tout près/Beside you there so close Vivre toute ma vie/To live all my life Que mon corps soit le tien/May my body be yours Que ta lèvre soit mienne/May your lips be mine Que ton coeur soit le mien/May your heart be mine Et que toute ma chair soit tienne/And may all flesh be yours
Oui je vois dans tes yeux/Yes I see in your eyes La divine promesse/The divine promise Que ton coeur amoureux/That your loving heart Vient chercher ma caresse/Comes looking for my caress Enlacés pour toujours/Joined forever Brûlant des mêmes flammes/Burning in the same flames Dans un rêve d’amour/In a dream of love Nous échangerons nos deux âmes/We will swap our two souls
Je te veux is in 3/4 time, which gives it its distinct waltz feel throughout. The piece has often been described as a ‘nostalgic’ or ‘sentimental’ waltz, with the lyrics veering away from this and actually being quite exotic and sensual. This dichotomy between the lyrics and the music creates a certain charm about this work, and is perhaps one of the reasons that it is so well-loved today. In the solo piano version, Satie adds an extra section between where the text verses would come, which allows Satie to develop the nostalgic melody further. The sheer change in character in this work in comparison to many other works by Satie of this time makes Je te veux a real stand-out for the composer. A lot of Satie’s other works are much darker in their general atmosphere, whereas Je te veux is much lighter and seemingly positive in character. The gentle ‘oom-pah’ accompaniment keeps the pace driving, with the sentimental melody line sitting comfortably above it. The piece could be seen as quite reflective, and rather ironically this has become one of Satie’s most famous compositions. A classic and timeless French waltz – Je te veux will live on for many years to come.