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"1977" by Ana Tijoux, English translation of lyrics

"1977"
Album: 1977, released 2010
Style: Rap, hip-hop influence, autobiographical, origin story
Countries: France (born), Chile (parents)

Listen:

"1977" is an autobiographical rap about Ana Tijoux’s birth, her childhood, and the start of her career. It is a catchy and poetic song. Listen to it at YouTube here. This song was also featured in an episode of Breaking Bad.

[Expand embedded video]

Translation:


Announcer audio clips:
================================================
Cuando las serpientes se evolucionaron --
Más rapido --
Que en muchas creencias --
Se nota la diferencia entre una serpiente venenosa y otra que no lo es por las marcas de dejan...


When snakes evolved --
Faster --
That in many religions -- [*alt. That many cultures believe --]
One can tell the difference between a poisonous snake and one that is not (poisonous) by the markings they leave behind...
================================================

Singer:

Mil novecientos setenta y... (x4)

Nineteen seventy-... (x4)

Nací un día de junio
Del año setenta y siete (‘77),
Planeta mercurio
Y el año de la serpiente.


I was born on a day in June
Of the year seventy-seven (‘77),
Under the planet Mercury
And in the year of the snake.

Signo patente
Tatuado ya en mi frente,
Que en el vientre de mi madre
Marcaba el paso siguiente.


Patent sign
Already tattooed on my forehead,
Which in my mother’s womb
Marked the next step.

Nacer, llorar, sin anestesia en la camilla,
Mi padre sólo dijo es Ana Maria.


Being born, crying, without anesthesia on the cot,
My father just said, this is Ana Maria.

Así sería el primer llanto
Que me probaria,
Quemando las heridas
Y dándome la batería.


That is how the first cry
I tasted came to be,
Cauterizing my wounds
And giving me drums. [*alt. And giving me (fresh) batteries.]

Solía ser entonces como un libro abierto
Pero leí la letra pequeña del texto.


I used to be like an open book then,
But I read the fine print (in the text).

Como un arquitecto
Construyendo cada efecto.
Correcto, incorrecto,
Se aprende todo al respecto.


Like an architect,
Constructing each effect.
Correct, incorrect,
One learns everything about it.

Saber que algunas personas
Quieren el daño,
Subir peldaño,
Toma tiempo, toma año’.


To know that some people
Want to do harm,
To climb a rung on the ladder,
Takes time, takes years. [*Ana Tijoux released her first album with Makiza in 1997.]

Con mi peluche mirando lo cotidiano,
Dibujos transformaban
El invierno en gran verano.


With my teddy bear, seeing everyday things,
Drawings transformed
The winter into a grand summer.

Papá me regaló bajo mi insistencia:
Un juego que trataba de compartir la solvencia,
Pero en el patio quisieron la competencia,
Y fue cuando sentí mi primera impotencia.


Father gave me after my insistence:
A game about sharing what one has,
But in the courtyard they wanted competition,
And that was when I felt my first helplessness moment.

Chorus:
----------------------------------------------------------
Mil novecientos setenta y... shhh (x4)

Nineteen seventy-... shhh (x4)

1977, no me digan no
Que uno lo presiente.
Todo lo que cambia lo hará diferente
En el año que nació la serpiente... shhh.

(x2)

1977, don’t say it isn’t so
Because one has a feeling about these things.
Everything that changes will do it differently
On the year that the snake was born... shhh.
(x2)
----------------------------------------------------------

Mi adolescencia
Fue una etapa bizarra;
El cuerpo es batería
Y la cabeza guitarra.


My adolescence
Was a bizarre era;
The body is a drum kit
And the head a guitar.

La orquesta narra una tonada quebrada
Para la mirada de una niña que solo talla espadas.


The orchestra narrates a broken melody
For the gaze of a girl who only deals spades.

Hormonas disparadas, sobrepobladas,
Y formación que cambia en temporadas.


Hormones through the roof, overcrowded,
And training that changes seasonally.

Caminas en crucijadas.
Cada cual en su morada
Preparaba la carnada.
La sagrada diablada de mirada encabronada.


You walk in crossroads.
Each one at their home
Was preparing the bait,
The sacred devilishness of a sullen look.

Mi fila la verdad
Nunca buscó su silla.
Mi búsqueda fue mero proceso
De pura pila.


My animosity honestly
Never sought to quiet down. [*lit. Never looked for its chair (to sit down).]
My search was truly a process
Of pure energy. [*lit. Of pure battery.]

Pupila de poeta
Que marcó nuestra saliva.


Pupil of a poet
Who marked our saliva. [*i.e. who influenced our music]

En la cordillera que miraba la salida,
La parada militar de paso monótono,
Colores policromolos,
Uniformes de poco tono.


On the mountain range that faced the exit,
The military parade with uniform step, [*lit. The military parade with monotone pace]
Polychrome colors, [*also a pun: "police-chrome" colors]
Uniforms of little hue.

Detonó mi cuestionamiento,
La voz sí sonó, ¿no?
Mi primera rima que sonó
Y me enroló.


It sparked my questioning,
My voice did sound out, did it not?
My first rhyme to call out [*alt. My first rhyme to sound out, to be heard]
And recruit me.

Mi búsqueda no fue para mi cosa de escenario,
Fue algo necesario
Que marcaba ya mi ensayo.


My search was not about a stage for me,
It was something necessary
That already marked my practice.

Así que tú hablas
Más de lo necesario,
Fue cuando entendí
Que todos quieren ser corsario.


So you talk
More than is necessary,
That was when I understood
That everyone wants to be a pirate. [*i.e. everyone wants to take]

[Chorus: "Mil novecientos setenta y... shhh..."]

Translation Notes:

Thanks to AlbumCancionYLetra.com and Rap Genius for having unique versions of the lyrics that fixed several of the transcription errors found in other lyrics websites. I love this song, but the mistranscribed versions were ubiquitous and delayed the translation greatly.

Rap Genius was also useful when I was looking to confirm or adjust my translation. The song lyrics are about Ana Tijoux’s life. She mentions several important life lessons obliquely, couching them in poetic imagery meant to discuss but also hide. Please comment if you can add biographical significance to some of the lyrics.

---

Signo patente tatuado ya en mi frente.
Patent sign already tattooed on my forehead.

This line, said about her birth, suggests destiny.

---

Correcto, incorrecto, se aprende todo al respecto.
Correct, incorrect, one learns everything to do with it.
Correct, incorrect, one learns everything about it.

Alternatively, this line might be:

Correcto, incorrecto, sé aprender todo al respecto.
Correct, incorrect, I know how to learn everything to do with it.
Correct, incorrect, I know how to learn everything about it.

al respecto (a) = in regards (to), having to do (with)

---

Papá me regaló bajo mi insistencia: Un juego que trataba de compartir la solvencia

Father gave me after my insistence: A lesson about sharing what one has.

Father gifted to me under the influence of my insistence: A game that had to do with sharing resources/money/goods. [*lit.]

trataba de = consistía en

Pero en el patio quisieron la competencia,
Y fue cuando sentí mi primera impotencia.


But in the courtyard they wanted competition,
And that was when I felt my first helplessness moment.

impotencia (adj., f.) =impotence; helplessness

I think these lines are a metaphor for Ana Tijoux being taught a lesson about generosity and solidarity as a child, but then growing up and finding that people are selfish. She is disillusioned and feels powerless.

---

Mi adolescencia fue una etapa bizarra; el cuerpo es batería y la cabeza guitarra.
My adolescence was a bizarre era; the body is a drum kit and the head a guitar.

Puberty was a difficult time for her. A Rap Genius comment says it well:

La adolescencia es una etapa caracterizada por la torpeza y la inseguridad, a veces se siente como que el cuerpo es un instrumento y la cabeza otro.


Translation (mine):
Adolescence is a period characterized by clumsiness and insecurity, sometimes it feels like the body is one instrument and the head is another.


---

Hormonas disparadas, sobrepobladas.
Hormones through the roof, overcrowded.
Hormone shot/dispatched, overcrowded. [*lit.]

Too many hormones!

---

Y formación que cambia en temporadas.
And training that changes seasonally.
And training that changes from time to time.

Basically, she is still figuring out how to act. The rules change as she gets older and she needs to "re-train" herself. The word formación means primarily professional/vocational/educational training, but also has a military connotation that I think is intentional. Combined with the line about hormones, I think she also means to say that she’s in flux and her impulses keep changing.

---

Cada cual en su morada preparaba la carnada.
Each one at their home was preparing the bait.

These lines come just before Ana Tijoux begins talking about her career in earnest. I think she is referring to her competition, and how they are all preparing themselves. There is also some subtext here about the passive aggressiveness of teenagers, as further displayed by the following lines:

La sagrada diablada de mirada encabronada.
The sacred devilishness of a sullen look.

Someone that is encabronado/a (adj.) is sullen, but also combative, cross, and angry.

---

Mi búsqueda no fue para mi cosa de escenario.
My search was not about a stage for me.
My scouting was not a matter of scene/fame for me [*alt.]

Music isn't about fame and celebrity status for her.
Tags: ana tijoux
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