Là-bas (song)

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For the novel by French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans, see Là-bas (novel). For other uses, see Là-bas (disambiguation).
Single by Jean-Jacques Goldman and Sirima
from the album Entre gris clair et gris foncé
B-side "À quoi tu sers ?"
Released November 1987
Format CD single, 7" single, 12" maxi
Recorded France
Genre Pop
Length 4:46
Label Epic
Writer(s) Jean-Jacques Goldman
Producer(s) Jean-Jacques Goldman
Marc Lumbroso
Certification Gold France, 1988
Jean-Jacques Goldman singles chronology
"Elle a fait un bébé toute seule"
"C'est ta chance"

"Là-bas" is a 1987 song recorded as a duet by the French singer Jean-Jacques Goldman and the British-born artist Sirima. It was the second single from Goldman's 1987 album Entre gris clair et gris foncé. It was a smash hit in France and became a popular song throughout the years.

Background, lyrics and music[edit]

In 1987, Goldman had finished composing the song but had not yet found a female voice to record the duet with him. Philippe Delettrez, Goldman's saxophonist, met Sirima who sang in a Parisian metro, and suggested that Goldman meet her. After several takes in studio, Goldman finally decided to record the duet with her.[1]

Composed by Jean-Jacques Goldman, the song deals with "the need of escape and the dilemma between a vital renewal and the loss of one's roots". While Goldman wants to go away to start a more fruitful life, Sirima, who personifies "stability, rooting and habit", begs him to stay with her and to found a family. The song is built as a dialogue that ends with two monologues in which "one is decided, while the other begs".[2]

The song was also released under the title "Over there" to win over the anglophone countries. On Radio Canada, it was awarded best francophone song of the year thanks to the voters of the listeners.[3]

In an interview, Goldman explained that he had made reference to "Là-bas" by using a sentence from it in his 1997 song, "On ira".[4]

Chart performances[edit]

In France, the song charted for 21 weeks on the top 50, from 5 December 1987 to 23 April 1988. It entered at number 17 and reached the top ten three weeks later. It peaked at number two for five non consecutive weeks, but was unable to dislodge Guesch Patti's "Étienne", then Sabrina's "Boys (Summertime Love)" which topped the chart then. After 12 weeks in the top ten, the single dropped on the chart.[5] It achieved Gold status awarded by the Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique in 1988.[6] The song sold about 593,000 units and is the 402nd best-selling single of all time in France.[7]

Cover versions[edit]

The song was covered by many artists throughout the years, including Michel Delpech in 1996, Murray Head and Lio, Corey Hart and Julie Masse in 1998, Renaud Hantson and Nourith, Michel Leclerc (instrumental version) in 2000, Florent Pagny and Natasha St-Pier in 2002 (available on St-Pier's album De l'amour le mieux),[8] Philippe Heuvelinne and Marc Rouvé in 2003, Humana, Prise 2 Son (released as a single, the second track of the CD "Un Autre Monde, number 45 in France)[9] in 2004, Opium du Peuple, and Grégory Lemarchal and the 500 choristers in 2007 (available on his posthumous album La Voix d'un ange).[10] All these versions were recorded on an album or a single.

Jean-Jacques Goldman re-recorded the song as a duet with Céline Dion for the Les Enfoirés' 1996 album La Compil' . In 1992, he performed the song with Fredericks and Jones for the live album Sur scène.

The song was performed on several French TV programmes, such as Tapis Rouge à Notre-Dame de Paris (France 2, 15 April 2000) by Hélène Ségara and Bruno Pelletier, Tubes d'un jour, tubes de toujours (TF1, 27 December 2002) by Daniel Lévi and Cécilia Cara. The song was also performed in Dutch-language by Erik Mesie and Nadieh under the title "Ik sta".[11]

In 2012, Marie-Mai and Baptiste Giabiconi covered the song on the number one album Génération Goldman.

Jean-Jacques Goldman and Michael Jones made an English version of the song called "On my way home" interpreted by Joe Cocker (album No ordinary world). As often with translations of Goldman songs the lyrics are not a literal translation of the original (on my way home versus leaving) but remains true to the theme (tribulation).

Formats and track listings[edit]

  • 7" single
  1. "Là-bas — 4:46
  2. "À quoi tu sers ?" — 5:29
  • 12" maxi
  1. "Là-bas" (extended version) — 6:08
  2. "À quoi tu sers ?" (vocal) — 5:29
  • CD single
  1. "Là-bas — 4:46
  2. "À quoi tu sers ?" — 5:29
  3. "Entre gris clair et gris foncé" — 7:19

Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ Génération Laser, RTL, 18 November 1991
  2. ^ Habib, Elia (2002). Muz hit.tubes. Alinéa Bis. pp. 120–21. ISBN 2-9518832-0-X. 
  3. ^ Réval, Annie; Réval, Bernard (26 September 2003). Jean-Jacques Goldman (in French). France Empire. p. 144. ISBN 978-2-7048-0965-3. 
  4. ^ Week-end Jean-Jacques Goldman, Nostalgie, 26–27 September 1997
  5. ^ a b ""Là-bas", French Singles Chart" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 7 May 2008. 
  6. ^ a b "Les Certifications depuis 1973, database" (in French). Infodisc. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  7. ^ "Best-selling singles of all time in France" (in French). Infodisc. Retrieved 8 May 2008. 
  8. ^ "De l'amour le mieux, track listing and charts" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 7 May 2008. 
  9. ^ ""Un Autre Monde" / "Là-bas", French Singles Chart" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 7 May 2008. 
  10. ^ "La Voix d'un ange, track listing and charts" (in French). Lescharts. Retrieved 7 May 2008. 
  11. ^ "Là-bas" (in French). Parler-de-sa-vie. Retrieved 7 May 2008.