Starmania and “Le Blues du Businessman”

Starmania is a French-language rock opera written by Luc Plamondon (Québécois) and composed by Michel Berger (French).  It was first released as an album in 1978 and was performed as a musical the following year.  The musical has been revived hundreds of times since then and performed throughout the world.  It is generally considered to be the greatest French-language musical of all time.  Whether or not that is the case, it is a creation of huge cultural importance, particularly in France and Québéc.

I discovered Starmania in 1989 when I was studying in Montréal.  I bought the original album, so I like the songs as they were sung by the initial artists (the reprisals don’t “sound right” to me).

My absolute favorite song from Starmania is “Le Blues du Businessman” (sung by Claude Dubois).  In the song an executive recounts his regret at having gone into business instead of becoming an artist as he would have preferred.  “Le Blues du Businessman” is hauntingly beautiful and not surprisingly has become a classic, both in France and in Québec.

I found this video of Claude Dubois singing it in 1978.  I get a kick out of this particular video because it feels so “retro”.  There are dozens of videos of Claude Dubois singing “Le Blues du Businessman” because he continues to sing it even today.  It is fun to watch several of the versions he has sung over time at different ages and compare the differences, not only in his appearance as time has passed but in his renditions of the song.  This one though, is the coolest of them all.

paroles: Luc Plamondon
musique: Michel Berger

J’ai du succès dans mes affaires
J’ai du succès dans mes amours
Je change souvent de secrétaire

J’ai mon bureau en haut d’une tour
D’où je vois la ville à l’envers
D’où je contrôle mon univers

Je passe la moitié de ma vie en l’air
Entre New York et Singapour
Je voyage toujours en première

J’ai ma résidence secondaire
Dans tous les Hilton de la terre
J’ peux pas supporter la misère

Au moins es-tu heureux?
J’ suis pas heureux mais j’en ai l’air
J’ai perdu le sens de l’humour
Depuis qu’ j’ai le sens des affaires

J’ai réussi et j’en suis fier
Au fond, je n’ai qu’un seul regret
J’ fais pas ce que j’aurais voulu faire

Qu’est-ce que tu veux mon vieux
Dans la vie on fait ce qu’on peut
Pas ce qu’on veut…

J’aurais voulu être un artiste
Pour pouvoir faire mon numéro
Quand l’avion se pose sur la piste
À Rotterdam ou à Rio

J’aurais voulu être un chanteur
Pour pouvoir crier qui je suis
J’aurais voulu être un auteur
Pour pouvoir inventer ma vie (bis)

J’aurais voulu être un acteur
Pour tous les jours changer de peau
Et pour pouvoir me trouver beau
Sur un grand écran en couleur (bis)

J’aurais voulu être un artiste
Pour avoir le monde à refaire
Pour pouvoir être un anarchiste
Et vivre comme un millionnaire (bis)

J’aurais voulu être un artiste
Pour pouvoir dire pourquoi j’existe

(I have my office on top of a tower
From where I see the town upside down
From where I control my universe.

I spend half my life in the air
Between New York and Singapore
I always travel in first (class).

I have my second home
In all the Hilton’s on Earth
I can’t bear poverty.

At least are you happy?

I’m not happy, but I look like I am
I lost my sense of humor
When I developed business sense.

I succeeded and I’m proud of it
In fact I have only one regret
It’s not what I wanted to do.

Well, what can can you do?

In life you do what you have to, not what you want.

I wanted to be an artist
To be able to do my show
When the airplane touches the ground
In Rotterdam or Rio.

I wanted to be a singer
To be able to shout out who I am
I wanted to be an author
To be able to create my life.

I wanted to be an actor
So every day I would change personnas
And find myself handsome
On a the big screen.

I wanted to be an artist
To be able to be an anarchist
And live like a millionaire.

I wanted to be an artist
To to able to create the world as I want it to be
To be able to say why I exist.)

1 thought on “Starmania and “Le Blues du Businessman”

  1. Great song! am learning it on the guitar – great chords/harmonies and interesting 2 part song structure..nice lyrics too – and so relevant today even though it first came out in 1978.

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