's musical attempt to entertain his French
fans in their native tongue wound up being quite a fiasco. In the late 1970s Joel
was touring in Paris
and noticed his French
fans singing along (in English
) with his songs. He noted that it sounded odd to hear the French
singing his rocking America
n anthems with a French
accent and decided to write a song that was partially in French
. He was looking to bring out the French
language's beautiful sounds in his own work (plus to give his French
fans something to sing along with in their own language).
Unfortunately, Joel didn't know how to speak (or write) in French. Therefore he took his English lyrics to an acquaintance who did speak (and write) the language and had his lyrics translated. Then, on his next European tour, he sang his new French song at a concert in Paris; he noticed something unusual: the audience wasn't singing along, they were staring at him with confusion! It turns out that his translator hadn't translated the lyrics very well and he was singing gibberish!
After the poor test-run of the song he had the lyrics translated by a more accurate source, and this is the version you hear on the Glass Houses CD and on the radio (when the song gets airplay; it's rare to hear it these days).
Anecdote told by Billy Joel himself at a lecture in 1996. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience.