“Comme j’ai mal” is a 1996 song recorded by Mylène Farmer. Fourth single from her fourth album Anamorphosée, it was released on 1 July 1996.
“Comme j’ai mal” became somewhat prophetic when on June 15 1996 , Mylène fell during a concert at the Halle Tony Garnier in Lyon. Diagnosis: an open fracture of a wrist requiring two surgeries. The other concerts of the 1996 Tour are postponed and Mylène stops all her activities to devote herself to her rehabilitation between France and the United States.
The further promotion of the album Anamorphosée will therefore be longer expected.
Like a little nod to fate, Mylène will propose “Comme j’ai mal” for the fourth single during the summer of 1996. That very summer when I arrived in the US. June 11 1996 is the exact day when my plane landed in JFK airport New York. It started my new era. Synchronicities are comforting thing especially when they are happened with people we admire and love. When I seen her photos in the Central Park I wondered if we were there at the same time. I wonder if I might even have seen her without of course thinking it could be her…who knows?
“What’s amazing is that we had just decided to release this single when the accident happened. Obviously, the schedule was changed a bit.” (Mylène Farmer -” Ciné Télé Revue “- 11/26/1996)
There were three official remixes available on the various formats produced by Laurent Boutonnat and Bertrand Châtenet. As the previous single “California”, a CD maxi was released in Germany. The song was later included in the studio version on the 2001 best of album Les Mots.
Journalist Benoît Cachin said “Comme j’ai mal” seems to be as “a confession and may be related to the texts of “Ainsi soit je…” and “Laisse le vent emporter tout““. Farmer evokes “her pain of living that prevents her from enjoying life“; she also talks about her lucidity and disillusionment and “that leads her to disconnect both physically and psychologically from the real world for a better world that belongs to her“. Author Erwan Chuberre considered that with this song, Farmer keeps up with lyrics “evoking death and the escape from reality“. According to psychologist Hugues Royer, the song contains “the sign of a hope of change” of the malaise from childhood, “of a travel for the mind and the body“.
It is difficult to propose an interpretation that would be unique or definitive of this text. Should we see death, transformation or rebirth?
It is important to place this song in the context of the time, namely the album Anamoprhosée and the importance of Buddhism in Mylène’s life. We can then understand that each life is only a simple step in a long journey made of deaths and rebirths, at least such a spiritual explanation appears to be appropriate. However, its hard not to see a strongly embedded theme of a child abuse and the abusive father figure. Although it’s very different from the Optimistique-moi delivery, it does however develop a topic of a powerless victimized childhood. Is it a literal or hypothetical hint – you decide!
As far as the lyrics only aside of the clip, it feels very autobiographical to me. I know, almost all of the Mylene’s songs feel that way. But this one I think is a reflection of her Georgino failure and the pain of the crushing separation with “her world” as she has known it before including departure from Boutonnat.
I feel what separates us confides
at the mercy of chance
I live outside of myself, and I go
To a thousand seasons, a thousand stars
As it hurts…
No more center, everything is equal to me
I move away from the brutal world
Before the wind sows us To all winds, I’m making a new start
We also find a reference to Pierre Reverdy, author frequently cited by Mylène. The line “I leave you because I love you” is borrowed from the poem Toi ou moi from the collection of poems Sources du vent.
Nispel also composed the screenplay alongside Farmer, and this video was generally regarded as his best. A Requiem Publishing production, the video was filmed in Los Angeles for two days in August 1996 with a budget of about 80,000 euros.
It was said that the video was produced twice, as the scenery of the first one was ransacked. Only few photographs were taken by the only photographer who attended the shooting, Jeff Dahlgren (we know him for starring in the film Giorgino).
Here are a few pictures from that time:
The costumes, make up and hairstyles required several hours of preparation. Farmer was deeply involved in the creation of the butterfly costume which holds itself through an iron wire and pins, and Farmer deemed it a masterpiece.
The video features Farmer at different stages of her life, and two actors who seem to be her parents. At the beginning, Farmer plays with a praying mantis in a cupboard. Then a little girl in a dark room opens a box containing many insects that she likes. When her father comes, she hides them in the box. She is then beaten by the father who also starts to break everything in the room. With her doll and her box, the girl runs to take refuge in her cupboard where she plays with an insect. Then she eats sugar and gets covered with honey and finds herself in a cocoon in a forest. She begins to leave it, the sticky body with wings in the back, very long nails, ruffled hair. She has therefore converted into a butterfly whose face is that of Farmer. The father cries because he understands that his daughter is gone away.
The video was broadcast for the first time on television about one month after the single’s release. According to French magazine Instant-Mag, this video underlines “the relationship with a father figure”. “The girl, scared by her father, who hides in her cupboard, is the representation of a child beaten and mistreated. The most painful is the metaphor of Farmer converted into a butterfly, which has therefore no more than one day to live: allegory of a child who is injured and incapable of being truly free?
On the television, Farmer performed “Comme j’ai mal” on the Tip Top show, broadcast on TF1 on 24 October 1996.
Just after her performance, she sang “La Poupée qui fait non“, a song originally composed by Michel Polnareff, as duet with Khaled. Regarding tours, the song was performed on the 1996 Live à Bercy tour; Farmer sang it alone in the middle of the stage illuminated by many lights.
“Comme j’ai mal”‘s trajectories on the singles charts were rather disappointing in comparison with the previous three singles. In France, the single failed to enter the top ten, debuting at number 11 on 10 August 1996, then dropped and fell off the top 50 after nine weeks, becoming the lowest-selling single from the Anamorphosée album. On the Belgian Ultratop 50, “Comme j’ai mal” started at number 36 on 24 August, reached a peak at number 21 the next week, dropped quickly and totaled four weeks, which was the shortest chart run of a single from the album in Belgium. And it’s really a shame! We still seem to be living in the world when the cheery tunes sell.
The music of the song was composed by Laurent Boutonnat like all the music of the album Anamorphosée , with the exception of Tomber 7 fois composed by Mylène. The choirs are provided by the American singer Kate Markowitz.
As we know post-Giorgino album Anamorphosée, after a difficult start, succeeded in winning the hearts of fans and conquer a new audience, charmed by a more rock sound and a sexy and luminous Mylène.
The title Comme j’ai mal was sent to several media in June 1996 via a single-title Promo CD. Polydor will ask radio stations to continue broadcasting California as well. It must be said that this single, the third single from Anamorphosée, is holding up well in the top singles and is above all a real hit on the radio which made it possible – also thanks to the promotion around the 1996 Tour- to relaunch sales of the album which dates back to 5th place on the Top French albums in June. The massive arrival of Comme j’ai mal on the airwaves therefore took place in July 1996. A second Promo CD is then sent to the media (a digipak). The version offered to radio stations is identical to the one on the album. Even if it will not match those of the previous single, California, the radio broadcasts of Comme j’ai mal are successful (the song will be the fifth most broadcast title in France the last week of July).
The album Anamorphosée performed and well and has already sold 570,000 copies in France by October 14, 1996.
Release on November 9, 2018 of a reissue of the Maxi 45 Tours Comme j’ai mal. It is also offered in a yellow collector’s version. We find Comme j’ai mal on the albums Anamorphosée (1995), Live à Bercy (1997) in live version.
Mylène Farmer Comme j’ai mal – Maxi 45 Tours was reissued for collectors in 2018, Les mots (2001), Best of Volume1 / Volume2 (2011) and Timeless 2013 (2013) in live version.
On television, the advertisement for the single (including extracts from the clip) was broadcast on M6 starting September 15, 1996.
Comme j’ai mal was performed live on all the dates of the 1996 Tour from May 25 to December 15, 1996. Arrangements for the stage: Laurent Boutonnat
Before I go on, please look at the photo below. On the left is Carole Rowley: a beautiful woman and a vocalist. Sadly, she passed away on March 22d this year from a severe form of Alzheimer disease.
It is a close friend of the singer who announced the news. Needless to say the news must have saddened Mylene very much.
“The death of the people I love. It is the ultimate surrender.” Carole Rowley is a luminary in the world of music. From Whitney Houston to Patricia Kass, Mick Jagger or Peter Gabriel, she has more than one string to her bow.
Since 1996, Carol is a part of Mylene’s creative team. As one of her friends points out, the disease took more ascendancy over the woman with the voice of or.
Carole Rowley had one of the most sought-after voices in popular music today. In the studio or on stage she’s sung with the likes of Van Morrison, Dave Stewart, Mick Jagger Peter Gabriel, and a long list of successful popular artists. Her songs have been recorded by Whitney Houston, Patti Austin, Bob James, and others. With its 12 atmospheric, airy tracks, Carole Rowley’s album, Garden of the Senses, richly illustrates her talent.
Here, she courts the universes of world and classical music with a romantic flavor, drawing on the ample gifts of some of the most innovative musicians working today: Michael Brooks, Simon Emmerson, Kudsi Erguner, Lukoa Kanza, Ayub Ogada and cellist Caroline Dale. Rowley’s songs are dreamy, intimate, passionate dances of delight — exquisite portraits created by an epicurean soul. “Garden of the Senses is a magnificent discovery, filled with infinite riches.” said Liberation Journal, France.
Please listen the album and remember Carol. It will be the best way to honor her beautiful life. RIP, dearest Carol
On the second part of the 1996 Tour, Mylène offers a longer version with several repeats of the chorus with the public. Let’s not forget that the song had not yet become a single during the first part of the tour.
timeless tour 2013
The song was also performed on the Timeless tour in 2013. Please see my subtitled video below
Every evening, Yvan Cassar offers a pre-introduction to the song (allowing Mylène to change her outfit, as for other titles on the setlist) which will be very different from one date to another, the musician often letting himself go to a lot of improvisation. He is a Master of It.
For the version that we will find on the album and the film Live à Bercy (audio and video recordings of the 1996 Tour), we can note that the bridge is very rich in guitars and close to that offered on the Aches Remix.
Three remixes (“Aches Remix”, “Upside Down Remix”, “Pain Killer Remix”) are made by Laurent Boutonnat and Bertrand Châtenet and they are all pretty good. I have always wondered why such a great interest remixing Mylene’s songs. And of course, I found out that Boutonnat is the one who set the trend. He remixed a lot of the songs just as he recorded it. It’s a smart promotional tactics as well as sheer fun for the creative soul. I have to admit: mixing the music is something I have always wanted to try…maybe when I am retired 😊
Here is a fun MF songs quiz: (I almost got it right) 🙂
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lyrics with translation
Je bascule à l'horizontal Démissionne ma vie verticale Ma pensée se fige animale Abandon du moi Plus d'émoi Je ressens ce qui nous separe Me confie au gré du Hasard Je vis hors de moi et je pars À mille saisons, mille étoiles Comme j'ai mal Je n'verrai plus com j'ai mal Je n'saurai plus com j'ai mal Je serai l'eau des nuages Je te laisse parce que je t'aime Je m'abîme d'être moi-même Avant que le vent nous sème À tous vents, je prends un nouveau départ Plus de center tout m'est égal Je m'éloigne du monde brutal Ma mémoire se fond dans l'espace Ода à la raison Qui s'efface Je ressens ce qui nous separe Me confie au gré du Hasard Je vis hors de moi et je pars À mille saisons, mille étoiles Comme j'ai mal Je n'verrai plus com j'ai mal Je n'saurai plus com j'ai mal Je serai l'eau des nuages Je te laisse parce que je t'aime Je m'abîme d'être moi-même Avant que le vent nous sème À tous vents, je prends un nouveau départ Comme j'ai mal Je n'verrai plus com j'ai mal Je n'saurai plus com j'ai mal Je serai l'eau des nuages Je te laisse parce que je t'aime Je m'abîme d'être moi-même Avant que le vent nous sème À tous vents, je prends un nouveau départ Comme j'ai mal Je n'verrai plus com j'ai mal Je n'saurai plus com j'ai mal Je serai l'eau des nuages Je te laisse parce que je t'aime Je m'abîme d'être moi-même Avant que le vent nous sème À tous vents, je prends un nouveau départ
I become horizontal Dismissing my vertical life The thoughts are freezing in my head And abandoning me I don’t care anymore I feel that we are separated by the will of chance Detaching from myself I go To a thousand seasons, a thousand stars As it hurts so much I don’t want to see so much pain anymore I don’t want to know so much pain anymore The water in the clouds I become I’m letting you go because I love you I’m destroying myself to I stay who I am Before the wind scatters us To all the winds, I’m making a new start No more core, nothing matters I am escaping from this brutal world My memory melts into space And even reasoning Now seems to fade I feel that we are separated by the will of chance Detaching from myself I go To a thousand seasons a thousand stars As it hurts so much I don’t want to see so much pain anymore I don’t want to know so much pain anymore The water in the clouds I become I leave you because I love you I’m destroying myself so I stay who I am Before the wind scatters us To all the winds, I’m making a new start How much it hurts I don’t want to see so much pain anymore I don’t want to know so much pain anymore The water in the clouds I become I leave you because I love you I’m destroying myself so I stay who I am Before the wind scatters us Despite all the winds, I’m making a new start How much it hurts I don’t want to see so much pain anymore I don’t want to know so much pain anymore The water in the clouds I become I leave you because I love you I’m destroying myself so I stay who I am Before the wind scatters us To all the winds, I’m making a new start