"The Legionnaire's Lament" as written by and Colin Meloy....
I'm a legionnaire
Camel in disrepair
Hoping for a frigid heir to come passing by
I am on reprieve
Lacking my joie de virve
Missing my gay Paris
In this desert dry

And I wrote my girl
Told her I would not return
Terribly taken a turn
For the worse now I fear

It's been a year or more
Since they shipped me to this foreign shore
Fighting in a foreign war
So far away from my home

If only summer rain would fall
On the houses and the boulevards
And the side walk bagatelles it's like a dream
With the roar of cars
And the lulling of the cafe bars,
The sweetly sleeping sweeping of the Seine.
Lord I don't know if I'll ever be back again.

La la la la dam
La la la low

Medicating in the sun
Pinched doses of laudanum
Longing for the old fecundity of my homeland
Curses to this mirage
A bottle of ancient Shiraz
A smattering of distant applause
Is ringing in my poor ears

On the old left bank
My baby in a charabanc
Riding up the width and length
Of the Champs Elysees

If only summer rain would fall
On the houses and the boulevard
And the side walk bagatelles it's like a dream
With the roar of cars
And the lulling of the cafe bars
The sweetly sleeping sweeping of the Seine
Lord I don't know if I'll ever be back again

If only summer rain would fall
On the houses and the boulevard
And the side walk bagatelles it's like a dream
With the roar of cars
And the lulling of the cafe bars
The sweetly sleeping sweeping of the Seine
Lord I don't know if I'll ever be back again

Be back again,
Be back again,
I'll be back again


Lyrics submitted by gyroscope, edited by Molotov9875, OctaVariuM8

"The Legionnaire's Lament" as written by Colin Meloy

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The Legionnaire's Lament song meanings
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  • +3
    General Comment"Frigidaire"? Seriously guys? It's not the damn brand name of a household appliance, he's saying "frigid air" as in "COLD AIR" because he's roasting alive in a hot desert. He wants a "cold air" to come passing by to cool him off.

    Jeez, you'd think people would know by now that lyrics posted to random websites are not 100% accurate, are almost entirely user submitted and typed up by ear. Common sense should tell you that just because the lyrics here spell it like it's the fridge brand name does NOT guarantee that's what Colin is actually saying in the song. It's not some witty anachronistic pun.
    tonyjones17on August 21, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt's "frigid air," not "frigidaire." The song is about a French legionnaire in Africa long before refridgerators were invented. I'm sure they were aware of the word "frigidaire" when they wrote the song, but I think it's meant as a pun.
    blindparadoxon April 01, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"The nameless French soldier of 'The Legionnaire's Lament' lies prostrate under the hot desert sun, yearning to be back in his fertile homeland. Putting the lyrical clues together, it is most probable that the roasting soldier is a member of the French Foreign Legion enlisted to pacify Algeria in the 1830s. A minor dispute between the two countries resulted in Charles X of France imposing a naval blockade of Algeria and then, in June, 1830, invading the country. Taking that position, one would have to take the mention of a Frigidaire either as flippancy, or Meloy squeezing humor out of an anachronism. The evidence in support of Algeria as the setting for the song lies in many narrative clues. The mention of the 'desert dry'--the Saharan desert is in the southern-most part of the country, and the references to late 18th and early 19th century items: laudanum, a drug made illegal by 1920, and 'charabanc', a term for a sightseeing bus now long obsolete. Then there is the various French references: joie de vivre, Paree, the Seine, shiraz wine, and Champs Elysee avenue. 'The Legionnaire's Lament' epitomizes the greatest strengths of the Decemberists: heedful historical anecdotes wrapped in shiny melodious pop songs."


    stylusmagazine.com/…
    knowthyselfon July 05, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is the most catchy song I have heard in a fucking long time. Probably since Semi-Charmed kinda life by Third Eye Blind. The historical references are deep and many, though I look to a man smarter than myself to reveal their meaning.
    WarpWhistleeon November 17, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is awesome, but i don't know what half the words mean.
    drowningnoahon January 11, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentfrom = "stylusmagazine.com/…"

    "The nameless French soldier of "The Legionnaire's Lament" lies prostrate under the hot desert sun, yearning to be back in his fertile homeland. Putting the lyrical clues together, it is most probable that the roasting soldier is a member of the French Foreign Legion enlisted to pacify Algeria in the 1830s. A minor dispute between the two countries resulted in Charles X of France imposing a naval blockade of Algeria and then, in June, 1830, invading the country. Taking that position, one would have to take the mention of a Frigidaire either as flippancy, or Meloy squeezing humor out of an anachronism. The evidence in support of Algeria as the setting for the song lies in many narrative clues. The mention of the "desert dry"--the Saharan desert is in the southern-most part of the country, and the references to late 18th and early 19th century items: laudanum, a drug made illegal by 1920, and "charabanc", a term for a sightseeing bus now long obsolete. Then there is the various French references: joie de vivre, Paree, the Seine, shiraz wine, and Champs Elysee avenue. "The Legionnaire's Lament" epitomizes the greatest strengths of the Decembrists: heedful historical anecdotes wrapped in shiny melodious pop songs."
    kelabraxason February 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is the saddest song I've ever heard. :(

    probably because I'm so familiar with homesickness, but regardless, this song really strikes a chord in my big ol' heart.

    LittleUnicornBoyon February 27, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is quite obviously a WWI song. The "camel" refers to a Camel Sopwith, a WWI era Airplane which was manufactured in France, held one person, and was known in some circles as "the most successful fighter of WWI” Perhaps, like the pilot in Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s Book, The Little Prince, his plane has gone down somewhere in the middle of the desert (in the French colonies?). The only coloration I can make from “Frigidaire” is that he is waiting for supplies. Technology in WWI required refrigeration for some of the weapons, which may be what this was referencing. A brigade carrying refrigerated supplies would quite obviously have what it takes to fix his airplane.

    If his Plane is down, it is assumed that he is on a “reprieve”, he is depressed, or missing his girl (Joie de Vive) and his hometown (paris)

    The chorus talks of his reaction to the turn of events. He writes his girlfriend, and of course, gives a little back-story on how long he has been fighting.

    The next part, starting with “if the summer rain would fall” starts him dreaming about Paris. Most is self explanatory, but a Bagatelle is one of two things:
    1) Either a Game, often played in pubs, that is much like billiards. It was very popular in France in that era, being known as “Billiards Angliase” (EG: English Biliards) because it was invented by and Englishman.
    2) or, a small piece of music or entertainment, so I’m assuming by sidewalk bagatelle he means someone who plays music on the street for money

    After that (Medicating in the sun) He talks about sitting in the sun to recover. While America was busy closing windows and hiding in the dark to cure illness, France took trips to the seashore, beaches, and public gardens. Sunshine was used as a cure for most ailments. Also, Laudinum was another “cure” – if you couldn’t cure it, you could at least forget about it.

    I’m not sure why paris would be considered “fecundit” – its potential ability to produce viable offspring, so I’ll let you ponder that one.

    After stating current situation, dreaming about paris (again) he thinks about his girl, and can imagine her riding up and down the Champs Elysees in a Charabanc, which is a buss used for sightseeing. Excursions in these vehicles were very popular when car ownership was limited to the wealthy. The Champs Elysees’s placement in this song is interesting because it holds the including the grave of the Unknown Soldier, the monument dedicated to war victims in WWI, who never made it back.

    And that is why it couldn’t possibly 1830….Besides, cars are mentioned in the song. There were no cars in 1830.
    redlightson April 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentEdited: corolation, not coloration, and some "And"s should be "an"s
    redlightson April 18, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Fecundity" can also mean "the state of being fertile" which would make sense, since he's stuck in the desert wishing he was back in Paris.
    weason June 28, 2005   Link

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