In Québec, in my days (…), if you sat around a camp fire and someone pulled out a guitar, there was a good chance of hearing a Georges Brassens song.
Singer-songwriter and musician Georges Brassens is one of the most beloved figures of France’s cultural and musical history, with his witty lyrics, his warm voice, his distinctive guitar rythms, and his wooded pipe. Georges Brassens sang about the kindness of simple people, about social oppression, and about human stupidity. He wrote hundreds of songs and I can’t recall a single really bad one. This solitary character’s timeless music is loved by people of all ages.
In the very conservative 50’s and the 60’s, Georges Brassens wasn’t afraid to speak freely, make jokes about sex, and laugh at the clergy and politicians who send others to war, with humour and intelligence. George Brassens was an amazing storyteller, and poet.
In one song, he sings about two dead oncles, two young soldiers who died fighting on opposite sides in a war. A few years later, their two countries made up. From their perspective, wouldn’t the wise decision be to avoid rushing into things? “Qu’au lieu de mettre en joue quelque vague ennemi, mieux vaut attendre un peu qu’on le change en ami” (Instead of taking aim at some vague ennemy, it’s better to wait a little until he is changed into a friend).
In 1967, he receives the Grand Prize for Poetry from the Académie française.
When he died, in 1981, a French journalist says, we are here stunned, as we lost a beloved relative.