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.