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The Meaning Behind The Song: Surannée by Jane Birkin

The Meaning Behind The Song: Surannée by Jane Birkin


When it comes to iconic French singers, Jane Birkin is a name that instantly comes to mind. Known for her collaborations with legendary composer Serge Gainsbourg, Birkin has left a lasting impact on the music industry. One of her lesser-known but equally beautiful songs is “Surannée,” which she sang alongside fellow French singer Françoise Hardy. In this article, I will explore the meaning behind the song and share some personal experiences with it.

The Lyrics

“Surannée” is a poetic and soul-stirring song that speaks of a timeless beauty that never fades away. The lyrics evoke images of elegance, nostalgia, and the passage of time. Let’s take a closer look at the lyrics:

[Jane] Surannée comme une ballerine
De l’Opéra Garnier, indémodable mais

[Françoise] Surannée, chemise en popeline
Sonnet de Mallarmé, peu négligeable mais

The verses beautifully characterize something or someone as “surannée,” a French word meaning outdated or out of fashion. From a ballerina at the Opéra Garnier to a poplin shirt and a poem by Mallarmé, these references highlight the enduring charm and significance of the subject.

[Jane] Surannée après le chant du cygne, dépassé, mis à la consigne
Du grand hôtel non loin du Pier, souvenir d’un souvenir

[Françoise] Surannée comme la beauté divine
D’une infante corsée, inoubliable mais
[Jane] Surannée, la fumée des dancings
Le parfum des sorbets, irremplaçables mais

The lyrics continue to paint a picture of the past, where remnants and memories of a bygone era can still be felt. Whether it’s the fading grandeur of a hotel near the pier or the essence of the smoke-filled dance halls and the fragrance of sorbets, these elements embody the bittersweet nostalgia associated with the passage of time.

[Jane] Surannée comme un grand verre de gin
Au Plaza Athénée, inoubliable mais

[Françoise] Surannée comme une ballerine
De l’Opéra Garnier, indémodable

The song comes full circle, ending with a reference to a timeless and unforgettable ballerina at the Opéra Garnier and a great gin cocktail at the Plaza Athénée. These closing lines bring the listener back to the initial imagery of timeless beauty and create a sense of completeness in the song.

Personal Connection

As a fan of Jane Birkin, “Surannée” holds a special place in my heart. Its poetic lyrics and mesmerizing melody have always transported me to a world filled with elegance and longing. The song speaks to the universal experience of nostalgia, reminding us of the importance of cherishing memories and appreciating the beauty that transcends time.

I have found solace in listening to “Surannée” during moments of introspection and reflection. It serves as a gentle reminder to embrace the fleeting nature of life and find beauty in both the past and present. The collaboration between Jane Birkin and Françoise Hardy adds an extra layer of depth to the song, making it a captivating duet that showcases their distinct voices beautifully intertwined.


“Surannée” by Jane Birkin is a hidden gem that offers a profound exploration of timeless beauty and nostalgia. Through its thought-provoking lyrics and enchanting melody, it leaves a lasting impression on listeners. The song reminds us to cherish fleeting moments and appreciate the enduring allure of the past. In a world that often prioritizes the new and trendy, “Surannée” encourages us to appreciate the beauty that transcends time.

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