Brassens came to me in a wooden box.
It was the kind of old-fashioned trunk that was once used to store old stuff up in an attic before becoming elevated to the status of furniture. When I was a kid, some time ago in a land far away, we had a trunk just like that in our living-room. It did not hide a bar, but records. In those days, records were big and made of vinyl. Most of the records were of the classical variety, with a few exceptions.
There was a series of plain, nearly identical albums. They all looked like they were made of the wood that hid them. Their only distinguishing features were variations on the wood grain and a small picture of a guy with a thick mustache and sometimes a pipe. In big letters, titles held the promise of interesting stories.
I started listening, systematically, and I discovered songs that you don’t hear on the radio. Songs that challenged my budding literary fibers. Songs that made me chuckle and songs that made me run for the dictionary. This guy with the pipe and mustache was in a class of his own. His records and I became close friends. And then one day I could not contain anymore my urge to sing and share them.
Now, my French-challenged friend, I share them with you, because there is more to these songs than just being French. Besides, they show no signs of aging, which is more than I can say.
Last night in Paris, I met an African-American jazz singer who had never heard of Brassens. Thanks to your site and your English versions, he was able to get a very good idea of who Brassens was. Thank you, and keep up the good work!
Hervé, from Les Bras’Coeurs