"J'attendrai," meaning "I will wait" in French, is a beloved song first recorded by Rina Ketty in 1938. It became a significant French anthem during World War II, comparable to Lale Andersen's "Lili Marleen" in Germany and Vera Lynn's "We'll Meet Again" in Britain.
"J'attendrai" is the French adaptation of the Italian song "Tornerai," which translates to "You Will Return." The song was composed by Dino Olivieri (music) and Nino Rastelli (lyrics) in 1936. It's said to draw inspiration from the Humming Chorus of Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly. The song was first recorded in 1937 by Carlo Buti and Trio Lescano (accompanied by the Italian jazz quartet Quartetto Jazz Funaro), and quickly became a hit in Italy.
Car l'oiseau qui s'enfuit vient chercher l'oubli
Dans son nid
The French lyrics are by Louis Poterat. "J'attendrai" quickly gained popularity after its release. Rina Ketty's version was swiftly followed by Belgian singer Anne Clercy's rendition in the same year. Both Tino Rossi and Jean Sablon recorded it in 1939. When France was occupied in 1940, the song became an emblematic war anthem, with the title interpreted as a longing for peace or liberation.
A popular rendition of the song was recorded by Dalida for her 1975 album, J'attendrai. The single was released on January 12, 1976, and it holds the status of the first disco hit in France.