Thirty-years after his death, he is recognized by most as the greatest songwriter in the country. Even though Brassens could speak with impish delight of whores and assholes, peppered his repertoire with the French equivalent of four-letter words, he did it with such style and wit that the incorrigible anarchist has found his place in the hallowed halls of academia. Today, Brassens is taught in French schools, alongside French literary greats. Brassens stretched French to the limits of the language. He blended classic forms of poetry with the most colourful language. He was a consummate wordsmith who lived by his words, and who set them perfectly to music.
Yet, Brassens remains unknown in the English-speaking world. Even though he became France’s most celebrated singer during his lifetime, Brassens did not particularly relish the attention and he had little interest in achieving international fame. Brassens was as French as they come, but that is hardly a reason to stop there.
Over a three-decades long career, Brassens retained a level of creative integrity that is unparalleled in popular music. He was a true individual with a challenging eye on the outside world. He was, above all, an extraordinary craftsman whose work is as relevant today to international audiences as it still is to French ones.
Brassens’ repertoire is quirky and timeless. Musically, it stands as fresh as when it was written, as far back as 60 years ago. One of all-time great songwriters, Brassens perfected songs that held the test of time. It’s time to put them to the English test, in a brand new world…