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"J'attendrai" (French for "I will wait"[1]) is a popular French song first recorded by Rina Ketty in 1938. It became the big French song during World War II; a counterpart to Lale Andersen's Lili Marleen in Germany and Vera Lynn's We'll Meet Again in Britain.

"J'attendrai" is actually a French version of the Italian song "Tornerai" (Italian for "You Will Return"[2]) ISWC: T-005.001.119-2 composed by Dino Olivieri (music) and Nino Rastelli (lyrics) in 1936, said to be inspired from the Humming Chorus of Puccini's Opera "Madame Butterfly". It was first recorded in 1937 by both Carlo Buti and Trio Lescano (accompanied by the Italian jazz quartet Quartetto Jazz Funaro[3]),[4] and become a huge hit in Italy.

The French lyrics were written by Louis Poterat,[5] and "J'attendrai" became an instant success. Rina Ketty's version was followed the same year by one of Belgian chanteuse Anne Clercy, and both Tino Rossi and Jean Sablon recorded it in 1939. When France was occupied in 1940, it quickly became the big French war song, with the love song's title being interpreted as meaning waiting for peace and/or liberation.

The French version of this Italian song became so well known across Europe that it was often called "J'attendrai" even when recorded instrumentally, such the two versions recorded by Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli in 1938, or referred to as the original source when sung in other languages, such as Richard Tauber's British "Au revoir" (1945, with lyrics by Bruce Sievier) and Bing Crosby's and Hildegarde's American "I’ll Be Yours" (both 1945 with lyrics by Anna Sosenko). The Crosby version was recorded on December 18, 1945 for Decca Records with Camarata and His Orchestra.[6]

There were also German versions ("Komm zurück", lyrics by Ralph Maria Siegel), sung by both Rudi Schuricke and Horst Winter on recordings made in 1939.[4] The song became known in Denmark as "Kun for dig" (1939, lyrics by Victor Skaarup); in Norway as "Kun for deg" (1939); in Sweden as "Blott för dig'" (1940, lyrics by Tor Bergström); in Poland as "Czekam cię" (recorded in 1939 by Mieczysław Fogg with lyrics by Andrzej Włast); in Czechoslovakia as "Věřím vám" (recorded by both Rudolf Antonín Dvorský and Oldřich Kovář with lyrics by Karel Kozel); and in Lithuania as "Ak, sugrįžk" (with lyrics by Adelė Lenartavičienė).

Later recordings[edit]

J'attendrai (album) cover.jpg
Studio album by Dalida
Released 1975
Recorded 1973-1975
Genre World music, Pop music, Adult contemporary music
Label Orlando International Shows, Sonopresse
Dalida chronology
Sempre più
(1975)Sempre più1975
Coup de chapeau au passé
(1976)Coup de chapeau au passé1976

An extremely popular version was recorded by Dalida for her 1975 album J'attendrai. The following year, she covered the song again for her disco album Coup de chapeau au passé: that version reached the Dutch charts on February 21, 1976. It has status of first disco hit in France.[7]

Inspired by Django Reinhardt's version, many stars of the European Gypsy Jazz scene have recorded the song, including Raphaël Faÿs (2000), Fapy Lafertin (1996), Angelo Debarre (2007), and Jimmy Rosenberg (2000). Other Gypsy Jazz versions have been recorded by North American groups such as The Hot Club of Detroit, The Hot Club of San Francisco, and Hot Club Sandwich.

French singer Raquel Bitton sings "J'attendrai" on her album Boleros.

Canadian singer Jill Barber covered the song in her French album Chansons,' which was released in 2013.

A recent version of this song was recorded by Italian singer Antonella Ruggiero on the album Souvenir d'Italie, released in 2007.

In 2010 Greek singer Vicky Leandros recorded this song in a new German version entitled "Wenn Du Gehst" ("When you leave"), which is included in her album Zeitlos ("Timeless").

In film[edit]

Recordings of "Tornerai " / J'attendrai have been popular for film and TV soundtracks since the early 1950s, being heard in more than 15 films and TV series, among them Lilacs in the Spring (1954), Arch of Triumph (1984), Das Boot (1981), A Good Year (2006) [8] and Allied (2016).

J'attendrai is the main song in Arch of Triumph, a 1984 film starring Anthony Hopkins and Lesley-Anne Down.

Other uses[edit]

The tune of "J'attendrai" served a Yiddish song sung in Auschwitz "Komm zu mir".[9]

The intro of "J'attendrai" is also heard in a sleeping quarters of the underground barracks of Fort Eben-Emael, Belgium. The room shows visitors what sleeping quarters of regular soldiers looked like in 1940, when Belgium was attacked by Nazi-Germany.

The song was used in a French television commercial for car manufacturer Renault in 2007.

The song was also used in the novel Love From Paris by Alexandra Potter, to signify the love between two characters.


  1. ^ LEO Dict: declination table of attendre[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ LEO Dict: declination table of tornare Archived 2012-02-12 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Ricordando i Trii Vocali: Quartetto Jazz Funaro (Italian only) Linked 2015-06-24
  4. ^ a b Songbook: Tornerai Linked 2015-06-22
  5. ^ Rina Ketty: profile[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved September 11, 2017.
  7. ^ dutchcharts.nl - Dalida - J'attendrai
  8. ^ IMDb: Dino Olivieri Linked 2015-06-22
  9. ^ Lider fun di ghettos un lagern (songs of the ghettos and concentration camps), Congress for Jewish Culture inc. (New York 1948), p. 407 (text on p. 219)

External links[edit]