J’ai Vu Le Loup

This is another one of those posts that unrigorously traces the connections between traditional songs. In this case, some French songs about the wolf, the fox, and either the hare or the weasel.

First, I encountered “La jument de Michao” by the Breton folk rock band Tri Yann, whom I’ve gone on about before. It’s a countdown song (“It’s in ten years… It’s in nine years…”) featuring Michao’s mare, who succumbs to instant gratification and, with her colt, eats all the hay in the field, a fit of gluttony she will regret come winter. It also features the refrain (translated): “I hear the wolf, the fox, and the weasel / I hear the wolf and the fox singing”.

Then I discovered the song “J’ai vu le loup” in a Christmas context, though there’s nothing Christmas-y about it, as far as I know. In the song, the characters are the wolf, the fox, and the hare, as in: “I saw the wolf, the fox, the hare / I saw the wolf, the fox dancing”. Though the words are similar to parts of “La jument de Michao”, the tune is entirely different.

But then I stumbled upon this recording, also entitled “J’ai vu le loup”, which smashes together the tunes and texts of the Tri Yann song and the other “J’ai vu le loup” with lovely results! So are the songs actually related?

It seems that the first “J’ai vu le loup” is a Burgundian song and that Tri Yann’s “La jument de Michao” actually melds two songs, a Breton version of “J’ai vu le loup” and the unrelated “La jument de Michao”. This Wikipedia page is somewhat informative, but more so in the French version than the English version (interesting that the only other two languages this page is available in are Swedish and Basque).

Finally, if you want a modern update that takes things in a different direction, try French Celtic rap group Manau’s “Mais qui est la belette?”.

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