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cairaguas in songlations

"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.

Comments

omg - I first found this translation journal (and started following it) because I was looking for a good translation of this song after struggling to understand the complex lyrics. This is so exciting - thank you so much for sticking with it!
You're welcome. I'm glad you like it! It's an excellent song. I actually started translating it a while ago and got stuck. There were a few lines whose meaning took a while to figure out. The line about the father's gift was very confusing: "Un juego que trataba de compartir la solvencia." I understood the words, but I wasn't sure what she meant here. The wording is unusual, and fast, and the lyrics in this stanza are different all over the internet. I was happy when I finally settled on a version that made sense.

very good

Thanks, very good translation:

Todo lo que cambia lo hará diferente

might also be

Everything that changes makes you different

meaning that the experiences will change you and make you grow, don't you think?

also i think the line says
Que no lo presiente.
and not
Que uno lo presiente.
but the meaning is not very different

Re: very good

another thing

Y me enroló.

is not
And capitvated me

(this would be "Y me enrolló." with 2 l's and would also make sense in the context but if you listen to the song it is clearly "enroló" meaning that the rhyme recruited her to the cause of rap music)


Edited at 2015-02-08 10:54 am (UTC)

Re: very good

Re: Todo lo que cambia lo hará diferente.

I think it could be translated either way. The lyrics can be interpreted different ways.

Re: Que no lo presiente.

No, it is clearly "que uno lo presiente" in the 1977 album version. I think this is pretty critical to the meaning, too. Changing uno lo to no lo would flip the translation. Are you listening to another version?

Re: enroló ... recruited

Okay, I like this suggestion. I'm changing the main translation to make it more military-like. I think I need to edit the previous line as well in that case:

Mi primera rima que sonó
Y me enroló.


Currently, I changed it to:

My first rhyme to call out
And recruit me.

I may come back to this. There's a better English word for sonar with a military connotation that's at the tip of my tongue, but I can't think of it right now. Google is giving me the English sonar (as in what bats and dolphins use) and Spanish soñar when I try to find it.

formacion

One line is not clear to me

Y formación que cambian en temporadas.

how can formación (singular) be the subject of cambian (plural)?

wrong original lyrics:
Que marcaba ya mi ensayo -> que marcaba ya mi fallo

meaning "my mistake" but might also be "my verdict".

Re: formacion

Re: Y formación que cambian en temporadas.

I interpreted it like this:

Y formación que ellos cambian en temporadas.

And training that they change seasonally.

Listening to this line again, it's unclear if it's cambia or cambian. Either makes sense. I'll remove the -n to make it more clear grammatically, though. My official translation ("and training that changes seasonally") isn't affected.

Re: Que marcaba ya mi ensayo -> que marcaba ya mi fallo

Both "ensayo" and "fallo" versions are found online and it's hard to tell which is correct from listening. I found a lyrics page that had a better transcription than other pages, and they used "ensayo" and it made sense to me. You may be right, though. I'll think about this and come back later.

Re: formacion

Also, thanks for all the feedback and suggestions! Even if I don't change something right away, it's still useful to hear alternatives.
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