Collage curtesy of MYNA MORAMENTO RAFI

Les mots is a song – a duet with Seal – from the best of Les mots album (2001). It is the first single from it.

The lyrics of the song Les mots were written by Mylène Farmer. The music for the song Les mots was composed by Laurent Boutonnat .

Mylène offers a simpler text than usual but which is no less accomplished. A hymn to the words with which she likes to “play” so much.
These words that can often help us build our lives but also sometimes destroy them. The paradox is therefore once again present, more surreptitiously perhaps than in other songs.
These words that Mylène loves so much and which in a way give it back to her so well since they have helped her over the years to fulfill herself, to forge this unique destiny.
They could not be absent from this single which announces its first best-of.

So many activities for Mylène in 2001. We didn’t expect so much, especially immediately after a tour (Mylenium Tour) and a studio album (Innamoramento) which both met with immense success.

A literary influence in this text, that of Emily Dickinson , from whom Mylène takes verses:
I will tell you how the sun rose” is the title of poem 318, “I’ll tell you how the sun” and the expressions “ To lives that stroop to notice mine” and “But a fraction of this life” are respectively inspired by the poems 273 (“And deal occasional smiles/ To live that stroop to notice mine”) and 275 (“Why, God, would be content / Why but a fraction of the Life“).

The year 2001 begins with the continued exploitation of the CD and DVD Mylenium Tour which are selling like hot cakes.

Mylène sings Pas le temps de vivre at the “NRJ Music Awards 2001”. We expect this title to be released as a second live single, but Universal prefers Regrets, the clip of which is somewhat broadcast. However, these beginnings of a possible exploitation of Regrets as a live single will not be followed up.

Surprise, Mylène prefers to offer at the end of February, as a single, the song that she recorded for the Soundtrack of the movie Rugrats in Paris, L’Histoire d’une fee, c’est…

At the same time, the first Alizée’s album, Gourmandises, produced, written and composed by Mylène and Laurent Boutonnat is a hit in the charts.

At the beginning of 2001, the rumor announced a probable “Dance Remixes 2” to be released in the year.

Finally, Mylène will offer the first best of her career

From the start of the school year, rumors specify that the first single would be an unreleased duet with Seal, an American singer who enjoyed worldwide success in the 90s with in particular the titles Crazy, Kiss from a rose …

These rumors also announce that the song would be half-French, half-English with lyrics by Mylène and music by Laurent Boutonnat. And for once the rumors are not mistaken.

Promos for the single Les mots were sent to the media on October 10, 2001. A classic promo CD but also a superb luxury promo called “sheath”. The title is broadcast exclusively by NRJ then many radio stations will program it (RTL, Europe 1, Europe 2, RTL2, Champagne, Scoop, Alouette, Sud Radio, Wit FM, Radio 6, Voltage, Top Music, Hit West, Kiss, France Bleu …). Les mots became the third duo of Mylène’s career after Regrets in 1991 with Jean-Louis Murat and La doll qui fait non in 1997 with Khaled.

“Mylène is different. I know she has a very mysterious image for you. For me too. We worked together and, if we don’t know each other well, we understand each other. I love her because she conceptualizes everything. what she does.” (Seal – Le Parisien – November 27, 2008)

In terms of sales, “Les Mots” is her fourth (!!!) biggest success in France, behind “Désenchantée“, “Pourvu qu’elles soient douces” and “Sans contrefaçon“.  Did you know?

I love how Les mots are being in the center of the song and the video. To me its a powerful allegory as well as a blunt warning “we could kill the life with words ” and isn’t it the truth

Russian poet Fedor Tyutchev reminded about it beautifully.

It is not given to us to forecast
How the word we speak will affect the other
For that alone lets have the sympathy and rather
Become the messengers of grace

(Translation by yours truly)

I guess we all know by  now the obvious influences for the video and the lyrics (Théodore Géricault’s painting Raft of the Medusa,  Emily Dickinson, some insinuate even Othello)

One curious fact however is worth mentioning: verses of “Les Mots” (“And to lives that stoop to notice mine“) repeated the first verse of  “Nous souviendrons-nous” (“Aux vies qui s’abaissent à voir la mienne“) . Did you notice it?
On the personal note, I always take the words to the heart (something tells me so does Mylene).

They are like the packets of energy we send to each other. They do have IMMENSE power.
So please let’s use our words wisely with an intent to inspire and nurture, support, express compassion and love and not as a weapon

I think overall the song and the duet is lovely, every little element is very pleasing: Seal’s silky-smooth voice (not to mention the muscles!) and Mylene helpless fragility, the river of life and the pouring rain of circumstances, the melody and of course the words. It’s lovely 😍 it gets the message across clearly without confusion (which is quite rare!)

Think twice before you say it, it might kill someone figuratively or literally.  Sadly, there are so many suicides caused by cyber bullying nowadays especially amongst youngsters. 😪 So the song is as current as it gets

Words are mystery…

music video

The Les mots clip was shot in the studio at Arpajon on October 8 and 9, 2001. Fifty technicians worked on the clip.
Return of Laurent Boutonnat behind the camera. He hadn’t made a clip for Mylène since Beyond my control in 1992.
Other clips for Mylène had already been shot in the Arpajon studios in the past, including Sans Logique in 1989.

It was Mylène who would have asked Laurent Boutonnat to direct this clip.

Imane Ayissi

Indeed, the muscular arms in which Mylène nestles in the clip are not those of Seal.
The filming of the clip having taken place a few days after the attacks of September 11, it seems that Seal was one of the stars refusing to travel by plane at the time.

It made possible for Imane Ayissi, model and designer well known in the world of fashion to be filmed as a Seal double.

Seal’s close-ups were subsequently in the United States and then embedded in the clip during editing. We recognize them because they are all made on a black background.
These shots were made in Los Angeles on October 11, 2001 over half a day by Anouk Nora, the executive producer of the clip.

The clip was released in 2006 on the Music Videos IV DVD , but it can also be found in 2001 on the collector’s version of the album Les mots in a longer version. We find in fact in addition a credits of beginning of twenty seconds indicating ” Mylène Farmer and Seal ” then ” The words – Directed by Laurent Boutonnat “

The clip Les mots has had a good run on television. It reached the 18th position in Yacast TV airplay in France for three non-consecutive weeks.
It is the 96th clip most diffused during the year 2002 by the musical chains.

For the first time, Mylène is photographed by Isabel Snyder

“Having Mylène Farmer and Seal in front of my lens was a real spectacle for me. Both were very professional. As a real artist, when you ‘work’ on a photograph, it must perfectly represent what you have in it. mind and heart. There is always an investment of all your energy. (…) I knew her music, but I had never personally met her. She appeared to me, the first time, as a person shy and gentle, with a very singular attitude, very honest. But once in front of my lens, it was another side of her that she revealed. She was as open and became very mischievous, very creative. I guessed it. ‘perform’ in it.” (source: bulledechagrin.free.fr)

All these photos have been kept by Mylène, who is free to use them as she wishes.

Note that the visual finally proposed on the promo CD and showing a zoomed-in shot of the hands of Mylène and Seal would have been initially considered to illustrate the CD single before it was preferred a photo with the two singers in a larger shot. A choice of the management of Mylène and the record company.

Photos of Isabel Snyder were also briefly considered to illustrate the album Les Mots before the choice fell on the photographer Ellen Von Unwerth.

Release of the Maxi 45 Tours on November 20, 2001. A real hit for this song. The title enters the 03rd place of the top singles. For its first week, despite the presence of a single medium in the bins (the CD single), nearly 30,000 copies are sold in France. He remained 17 consecutive weeks in the top 10 and reached his best ranking (top2) the week following the broadcast of the “NRJ Music Awards 2002”. The presentations to the “NRJ Music Awards” in January 2002 will also strongly boost radio broadcasts of the title which climbed to 2nd place on Muzicast Radio (ranking of the most played titles on radio in France) in February.

A long-standing interest of Mylène for Seal: on April 5, 1991, during an interview with NRJ, Mylène had, among the different songs chosen to be broadcast, selected the title of Seal, Crazy.

Elton John and Mylene Farmer

For the anecdote, rumors affirm that initially Mylène wanted to record this duet with Elton John who would then have refused, the British singer preferring to make a duet with Mylène on a more ‘rhythmic’ song. This project has never materialized.

The photoshoot with Seal, of which three photos were selected for the different media of the single, was carried out during the summer of 2001 in Los Angeles.

Shooting of the clip on October 07 and 08, 2001 at Arpajon studios then on October 11, 2001 in Los Angeles for the plans of Seal (with the return behind the camera of Laurent Boutonnat who had not made a clip for Mylène since Beyond my control in 1992).

First broadcasts of the clip is on November 07, 2001.


Collage curtesy of MYNA MORAMENTO RAFI

Les mots was performed live during the thirteen concerts of 2006, Avant queombre … in Bercy from January 13 to 28, 2006 in a duet with Abrahm Laboriel Jr.

Rumors had announced the presence of Seal for a few evenings, but he would have, according to these same rumors, asked for a fee a little too high. He is replaced by one of Mylène’s musicians, Abraham Jr. Laboriel who then reveals a very nice talent as a singer. It might be even better than with Seal. What do you all think?


The words are sung on all dates of the tour Timeless 2013 from September 7 to December 6, 2013 in duet with singer Gary Jules.



lyrics with translation

Fixement, le ciel se tord
Quand la bouche engendre un mort
Là je donnerai ma vie pour t’entendre
Te dire les mots les plus tendres

When all becomes all alone
I’ll break my life for a song
And two lives that stoop to notice mine
I know I will say goodbye
But a fraction of this life
I would give anything, anytime

L’univers a ses mystères
Les mots sont nos vies
You could kill a life with words
So, how would it feel
Si nos vies sont si fragiles
Words are mysteries
Les mots des sentiments
Les mots d’amour, un temple

If one swept the world away
One could touch the universe
I will tell you how the sun rose high
We could, with a word, become one

Et pour tous ces mots qui blessent
Il y a ceux qui nous caressent
Qui illuminent, qui touchent l’infini
Même si le néant existe
For a fraction of this life
I will give anything, anytime

L’univers a ses mystères
Les mots sont nos vies
We could kill a life with words
So, how would it feel
Si nos vies sont si fragiles
Words are mysteries
Les mots des sentiments
Les mots d’amour, un temple

Staring, the sky twists
When the mouth creates a dead man
There I will give my life to hear you
To tell you the most tender words

When everything becomes lonely
I would give my life to hear a song
And two lives that stoop to notice mine
I know I’ll say goodbye
But a fraction of this life
I’d give anything, anytime

The universe has its mysteries
Words are our lives
You can kill a life with words
So what does it matter?
If our lives are so fragile
Words are mysteries
Words of feeling
Words of love, a temple

If we swept the world
We could touch the universe
I’ll tell you how the sun rose
We could, with a word, become one

And for all those words that hurt
There are those that caress us
That illuminate, that touch the infinite
Even if nothingness exists
For a fraction of this life
I would give anything, anytime

The universe has its mysteries
Words are our lives
We could kill a life with words
So what would it matter
If our lives are so fragile
Words are mysteries
Words of feeling
Words of love, a temple

The page last edited July 18, 2022

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