Yesterday When I Was Young

“I make films that I would like to have seen when I was a young man.”
François Truffaut


François Truffaut photographed by JeanLoup Sieff, Paris, 1959



Hier encore, j’avais vingt ans
Je carresais le temps et jouais de la vie
Comme on joue de l’amour
Et je vivais la nuit
Sans compter sur mes jours qui fuyaient dans le temps
J’ai fait tant de projet qui sont restés en l’air
J’ai fondé tant d’espoirs qui se sont envolés
Que je reste perdu ne sachant ou aller
Les yeux cherchant le ciel mais le coeur mis en terre

Hier encore j’avais vingt ans
Je gaspillais le temps en croyant l’arreter
Et pour le retenir, même le devancer
Je n’ai fait que courrir et me suis essoufler
Ignorant le passé, conjuguant au futur
Je precedais de moi toute conversation
Et donnais mon avis que je pensais le bon
Pour critiquer le monde avec désinvolture

Hier encore j’avais vingt ans
Mais j’ai perdu mon temps a faire des folies
Qui ne me laissent au fond rien de vraiment precis
Que quelques rides au front et la peur de l’ennui
Car mes amours sont mortes avant que d’exister
Mes amis sont parti et ne reviendront pas
Par ma faute j’ai fait le vide autour de moi
Et j’ai gaché ma vie et mes jeunes années
Du meilleur et du pire en jettant le meilleur
J’ai figé mes sourirs et j’ai glacé mes peurs
Ou sont-ils a present, a present mes vingts ans?





Yesterday when I was young
The taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue
I teased at life as if it were a foolish game
The way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I always built, alas, on weak and shifting sand
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day
And only now I see how the years ran away
Yesterday when I was young
So many drinking songs were waiting to be sung
So many wayward pleasures lay in store for me
And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see
I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out
I never stopped to think what life was all about
And every conversation I can now recall
Concerned itself with me, me and nothing else at all
Yesterday the moon was blue
And every crazy day brought something new to do
I used my magic age as if it were a wand
And never saw the waste and emptiness beyond
The game of love I played with arrogance and pride
And every flame I lit too quickly, quickly died
The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away
And only I am left on stage to end the play
There are so many songs in me that won’t be sung
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue
The time has come for me to pay for yesterday when I was young


Hier Encore, whose original French title translates as Only Yesterday, is a song written by Charles Aznavour and released in September 1964.

It was subsequently released in English as Yesterday, When I Was Young, in Italian as Ieri Si, in Danish as Hvor tiden går, in Japanese 帰り来ぬ青春, and in Spanish as Ayer Aún. It is considered one of Aznavour’s greatest hits.

The English-language lyrics, written by Herbert Kretzmer, tell of a man reflecting on his life. He recounts how he had wasted his youth on self-centered pursuits, and that, now that he is older, he will not be able to do all that he had planned; this implies that he may be close to his impending death.

To listen the English version of this song, please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook Page:

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