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French song – Soulman

Soulman – ben l’oncle soul

Released in 2010, ‘Soulman’ is the second track on the eponymous album by Ben l’Oncle Soul. In the song, Ben certainly lives up to his moniker as the ‘Soul Uncle’ with this smooth and catchy song that will have you singing along in no time.

In essence, it’s a simple song about Ben declaring himself as a ‘soulman’, nothing more and nothing less. He denies having the humour of Charlie Chaplin, the genius of Leonardo da Vinci and the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi. However, what Ben certainly has is a sweet, soulful voice that makes ‘Soulman’ easy to listen to.

Ben, AKA Benjamin Duterde, was born in Tours, France in 1984. Despite growing up outside of the Motown era, Duterde grew up singing in a gospel group named ‘Fitiavana’, which gave him his first insight into this style of music. Since then, Duterde has developed a unique genre of music that blends together elements of soul, pop and jazz.

We love the cultural references to global icons. In ‘Soulman’, Duterde claims to be nothing like Spike Lee, Che Guevara and Abbé Pierre, a fellow Frenchman.

You may also notice Duterde’s use of ‘ne…que’ in the chorus of the song. Although it sounds like a negative,  this little phrase translates to ‘only’. The ‘ne’ is placed in front of the verb and the ‘que’ follows it.

Je ne suis qu’un soul man

Could Duterde be France’s answer to the Blues Brothers?

Discover more French music HERE.

LYRICS

J’ai pas le regard de Spike Lee
J’ai pas le génie de De Vinci
J’ai pas les pieds sur terre
La patience de ma banquière
J’ai pas ces choses-là
J’ai pas la sagesse de Gandhi
L’assurance de Mohamed Ali
J’ai pas l’âme d’un gangster
La bonté de l’Abbé Pierre
Ni l’aura de Guevara

[Chorus]
Je ne suis qu’un soulman
Écoute ça baby
Je suis pas un superman
Loin de là
Juste moi, mes délires
Je n’ai rien d’autre à offrir
Mais je sais qu’en vrai c’est déjà ça

J’ai pas le physique des magazines
J’ai pas l’humour de Charlie Chaplin
J’ai pas la science infuse
Le savoir-faire de Bocuse
Non je n’ai pas ces choses-là
J’ai pas la chance de Neil Armstrong
J’ai pas la carrure de King Kong
Plusieurs cordes à mon arc
La ferveur de Rosa Parks
Ni le courage de Mandela

[Chorus]

Moi j’aurais aimé être comme eux ;
Être hors du commun
J’ai bien essayé
J’ai fait de mon mieux
Mais quoi que je fasse
A la fin

[Chorus]

Non,non,non ,non
Juste moi
Mes délire
Mais je sais qu’en vrai c’est déjà ça !

ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Don’t have the vision of Spike Lee
Don’t have the hand of Da Vinci
Don’t have my feet on the ground
Or the patience of my banker
Don’t have those things.

Don’t have the wisdom of Gandhi
Or the confidence of Muhammed Ali
Don’t have a gangster’s heart
Or the kindness of Abbé Pierre
Nor the aura of Guevara.

[Chorus]

I’m just a soulman
Listen here baby
I’m not a superman
Far from it
It’s just me and my madness
I’ve got nothing else to offer
But I already knew that was true.

Don’t have the body like in magazines
Don’t have the humor of Charlie Chaplin
I’m also not a rocket scientist
And I don’t have the know-how of Bocuse
No, I don’t have those things.
Don’t have Neil Armstrong’s luck
Don’t have the stature of King Kong
Many strings on my bow
The zeal of Rosa Parks
Nor the courage of Mandela.

[Chorus]

I would have liked to be like them;
Be extraordinary
I’ve tried hard
I did my best
But whatever I do
In the end:

No, no, no, no
Only me,
my madness,
But I already knew that was true.