These two years have flown by too fast. I am leaving France in three weeks! It is going to be a busy time because I have quite a few things to do, people to see, places to go, and blogs to post, including a few posts about my favorite French artists and songs. You don’t need to understand French to fall in love with this music.
Charles Aznavour is an incredibly expressive singer, songwriter, and performer. Born in France to Armenian immigrants, most of his songs are in French but he sings in eight different languages. He is 92 years old and still touring! It is hard to chose just a few songs to highlight as he has written over 1300!
- La Boheme
This is one of my favorite songs. I discovered it in the film Demolition on the day my grandmother passed away last year and I was touched by its melancholy tone.
In the song, an old artist describes with longing his youth when he was poor and in love in Montmartre, a neighborhood that used to be a cradle for artists in Paris.
It starts like this:
I will tell you of a time-past that the young do not know. Back then, Montmartre gathered its lilacs under our windows…
Je vous parle d’un temps,
Que les moins de vingt ans,
Ne peuvent pas connaître,
Montmartre en ce temps là,
Accrochait ses lilas,
Jusque sous nos fenêtres,
I love Emmenez-moi because the lyrics paint a picture and the chorus is so fun to belt out!
A lonely dock worker from the dreary north of France dreams of stepping on a boat and sailing to the ends of the earth.
Au bout de la terre
Au pays des merveilles
II me semble que la misère
Serait moins pénible au soleil.
Take me to the edge of the earth
Take me to the lands of wonders
It seems to me that my misery
Would be less painful under the sun
3. For Me Formidable
This original, upbeat love song plays on words as it switches in between French and English. Charles can’t seem to decide if he wants to seduce the woman in the ‘language of Molière’, or in the ‘language of Shakespeare’.
4. Je m’voyais déjà
This Broadway-esque song is the story of a old singer who never was able to make it big as hard as he tried. But he still believes that he can make it!
J’ai tout essayé pourtant pour sortir du nombre
J’ai chanté l’amour, j’ai fait du comique et d’la fantaisie
Si tout a raté pour moi si je suis dans l’ombre
Ce n’est pas ma faute mais celle du public qui n’a rien compris
On ne m’a jamais accordé ma chance
D’autres ont réussi avec peu de voix et beaucoup d’argent
Moi j’étais trop pur ou trop en avance
Mais un jour viendra, je leur montrerai que j’ai du talent.
I tried everything to stand out
I sang love songs, funny songs, and even fantasy
If nothing worked out for me it’s because I was in the shadows
It’s not my fault, but that of the audience which didn’t understand
They never gave me a chance
Others, with less talent and more money, made it big
I was too pure or too ahead of my time
But a day will come when I will show them that I am talented.
If you love these songs, look up La Mamma, Que C’est Triste Venise, and She.
I hope you love Charles Aznavour as much as I do now:)