FRENCH SINGERS AND SONGWRITERS: A MUSICAL JOURNEY
Philip Scheiner, lecturer
Encompassing both singers ‘born in France’ like Georges Brassens or Françoise Hardy, and others who adopted France, like Charles Aznavour, Nana Mouskouri or Jane Birkin, la chanson française is rightly world-renowned. To make sense of such a corpus, the course will look at recurring themes, such as eroticism (ex: Déshabillez-moi by Juliette Greco), the lives of singers (Je Me Voyais Deja by Charles Aznavour), political statements (Le Déserteur by Boris Vian), the end of love (Ne Me Quitte Pas by Jacques Brel), and places (Syracuse by Henri Salvador). Each will be illustrated by several songs (lyrics in translation), many of which have structured la chanson française over the last sixty years to become classics of their genre. The course will also open onto great songwriters like Serge Gainsbourg and Michel Berger, as a nation sings to itself about its past, its passions and its taboos.
1. ‘Les Dames en Noir (Edith Piaf et al.)’, the singer-songwriters (Brassens et al.), songs about love, places
2. The end of love, songs with a highly personal or political message, songs which broke social taboos
3. Dialogues with other musical cultures (Brazil, UK, Egypt etc.), life on stage, multicultural France in song
Guibert, G. and Rudent, C. (Eds.) 2018. Made in France: Studies in Popular Music. New York: Routledge.