Tag Archives: satire

Georges Brassens

My father introduced me to the satirical, scathing, and wonderfully melodically and rhythmically difficult songs and the voice of Georges Brassens when I was but a small child, my father singing along to his recordings, I gazing at the few images of him on the record covers. In time I wanted to know what the songs meant and my father spared nothing in their translation; neither the contempt for the hypocrisy of French society of his time, nor the import of his sometimes abstruse allusions. Such, I think, typifies my relationship with my father.

Fascinated by the atypical and voluptuous way Brassens articulated the “r” in French, and by the sociopolitical implications of his lyrics which clearly indicated a man who loathed the repressive intent of the law and the violence of its execution, and whose attitude to humanity bordered on the misanthropic, I was thereafter made a keen student of the issues contemplated and despised by the anarchical mind, and formed a desire to learn French, which seemed by its very vagueness compared with English to lend itself interestingly to nuance and ambiguity.

However, life has a tendency to intervene in the plans of mortals, having a punishing agenda which seeks its own fulfilment, and I therefore have never mastered French, and certainly not well enough to dicipher the oft coded language of Georges Brassens. I do, though, have a very good French accent, or so I’m told on the rare occasion I’ve had the opportunity to exercise its speech with its natives, and have included one of the songs of Brassens, which didn’t seem too difficult to play, in my own repertoire, Chanson Pour L’Auvergnat.

Here are a few youtube clips of some of his songs for your enjoyment or education.

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A little Sunday thought…

One of my favourite quotes comes from My Speech to the Graduates by Woody Allen, first published in the New York Times in 1979:

“More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

There is almost nothing as funny as turning our neuroses and fears concerning the future, and in particular the end of the world as we know it, into an occasion to laugh. None of us has the power to stop the elite class who run the world and prescribe the common dialectic from designing wars and creating the situations which put countries at enmity with eachother for their entertainment and profit – at least it would appear not yet. And so our sense of hopelessness, fed by the popular media, crafted by the organisations which prosper by our paranoia, is only alleviated by an irrepressible faculty of finding the funny side to all things.

Some decades ago Tom Lehrer the satirist, accompanying himself on wickedly played piano, gave us his song We Will All Go Together When We Go, which gave those of us around at the time a little light relief from our terrors of a massive nuclear war which threatened to destroy the world following the Bay of Pigs incident.

I say thank God for the humorists and comics, without whom we might all have sunk into such a deep pit of despair that there might be no possibility of emerging.

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