Fără is an important word in Romanian and I learnt it by trial and error on the first day of my language course in Sibiu in the summer of 2013: outside the classroom was a big coffee machine and the first time I used it I hit the fără zahăr (“without sugar”) button. Yuck! Thereafter it was cu zahăr mereu (with sugar always).
Just as “without you” is fairly common in English song titles, so is fără tine in Romanian music. Usually it is an expression of sadness and doleful longing. Take this example, from highly rated band DJ Project (a couple of musicians/DJs from Timişoara who have used a number of female vocalists over the years): the lyrics include: fără tine nu sunt eu, am stiut asta mereu, nu mai vreau sa plang, dar doare, doare, doare… fără tine n-am nimic (without you I am not myself, I knew it all along, I don’t want to cry anymore, but it hurts, without you I have nothing..)
In a similar vein, musically and lyrically, is this effort from Anda Allexa, who says that fără tine her life is drab and colourless, and she has no sun or moon!
Now it’s Dana Nălbaru‘s turn with this gentle ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ type of song, which illustrates the beauty of the Romanian language)…
It’s not only women who get morose with the fără tines. Here’s Voltaj (Romania’s representatives at Eurovision this year) with Mi-e greu fără tine (It’s hard without you).
You’ll also hear the line n-am nimic in this lovely song Alături de îngeri (Near or Among the Angels) by 3 Sud Est, but in this case is is followed by în afară de tine which means “apart from you” or “except for you”. I really like this song.
But it’s not all bad news!
Sometimes breaking up isn’t so hard to do. Here’s a big hit from the summer of 2013. It’s the band Vama (formerly Vama Veche) and the song is Perfect Fără Tine – I don’t particularly like it but found myself humming and singing along to the jaunty chorus whenever I heard it played. And why not? It’s a happy song … perfect fără tine, e mai bine, am timp şi pentru mine … perfect without you, it’s better, I have time for me….