Music: Claude François’s “Comme d’habitude” and Pronominal Verbs

Most students will recognize the melody of “Comme d’habitude” because it is that of “My Way,” but few will know that the song made famous by Sinatra is actually a remake of the French song by Claude François. The original song shares no lyrical content with the English version: it’s a song about one man’s daily life in which he does everything “as usual” (“comme d’habitude”) – that is, he “pretends” (“faire semblant”) that he is happy in his work and love life.

Because the lyrics are about a daily routine, I use this song in the intermediate classroom during a unit on pronominal verbs. I’ve created a cloze exercise that uses the pronominal verbs se réveiller, se lever, s’habiller, se coucher, se déshabiller, and s’embrasser. You may download it from the following link:

Comme d’habitude

When covering pronominal verbs, we talk a lot about daily routines and habits. I’ve found that after listening to this song, many students are receptive to a deeper discussion of the darker side of what a daily routine can become: that one loses his sense of self as he pretends to be someone else who just gets through the day. The song is relatively easy to understand and the implications are fairly obvious, but listening to it has the potential to be a more meaningful activity than just talking about how you get ready for class each morning.

It’s important when doing any activity to situate it within the course context (grammar) at the beginning and then at the end open it to wider reflection. I ask students to describe the life of the man in the song, and I remember one student saying it was “le pire.” Even at the intermediate level students have the vocabulary to interpret and express meaning in this context.

Download “Comme d’habitude” from Amazon.com

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