2.16.2009

The Nonchalantdad: La belle musique de la langue française!

Jacques Brel

As I'm sure you are aware, the culture of the United States has pretty much been one of our biggest exports since the end of World War II. For better or worse, our music and popular culture was the newest thing on the block - and our European Friends (not to mention the rest of the world) started eating it up. All things 'American' were the rage. It's not so ripe now, but you can still easily find the vestiges of this pervasiveness wherever you are pretty much traveling. So much so, that this 'American' thing can't really be easily traced back to its source any longer - it has become an entity unto itself! Something translatable into many different forms, depending on what country you happen to find yourself in.

Josephine Baker

I know for sure through my own connection to the UK that many of my friends there happened to have an obsession with the music of America in particular - and I'm not talking about Michael Jackson. The more obscure forms were often the more popular - something authentic, like traditional folk music from the 'back woods', or the blues from our South, or original country and western from the deep West. There's alot of great music from the United States that are one of our proudest and more authentic storytellers. And, impressions are everything - as we have learned over the last decade in particular!

But, what about the other way around? What about those of us who have a deep fascination with the music of other cultures? The way things are set up in our own country, it is hard to hear the voices of other cultures and societies on a regular basis. But, today, with the internet, that world is no longer so restrictive and, as such, much more easily experienced - thank God! So, people like myself who are very much into the obscure, or rare, sounds of other cultures..... well - have I found a new place for you!

Edith Piaf

Just about everyone is familiar with the sounds of Jacques Brel (my wife had always had a passion for this man!), Josephine Baker, or the indomitable Edith Piaf. But what about a whole range of French music spanning a whole century of tastes - from the ridiculous (some crazy sounding stuff from the 60's and 70's) to the sublime, and everything in between. Well, I recently stumbled onto a great website that has since become my soundtrack while working, Chanteurs.org. I am not a natural French speaker, as many of my vocal blunders can attest to during my 6 or 7 visits to France - but the French language is without a doubt one of the most beautiful languages this world has to offer. And, afterall, it is easy to pretend while listening to some of the these wonderful gems, that you indeed do speak the language fluently.... Quelle surprise!

We are supposed to be returning to an older, more natural, form of living these days - the days of excess are over, apparently. And what better way to celebrate some of that earlier authenticity than by relying on the culture of our predecessors (I'm not talking the 80's here!) to help us! And, what could be more fun than listening to this music with your kids - don't even think the language barrier will be a problem for them!

And, just think of the discoveries you'll make, even if you are just a tiny bit of a Francophile! I have some new favorites now that you are unlikely to see on MTV anytime soon: how about the group called 'Rita Mitsouko' (their song 'Restez avec moi' is a treat), or Luis Mariano's 'Le Rossignol', or Roberta's 'le long du canal'...... oh quel plaisir! Almost every other song on the radio program is a jewel I'm not familiar with... and that radio program can be found on your ITunes Radio under the international section.

So, if you're like me and your a natural born sucker for this kind of stuff - you'll have some real fun discovering all sorts of stuff that you didn't even know existed probably. And, to boot, after a while listening to this music, you'll start to think that your daily errands are charged with all that much more jaunty magic! Enjoy, and let me know what you think. I'll keep my ears out for other things too, but if any of you know something like this, whatever the country, let me know - I know my wife would love an Italian version, or Swedish. Or, what about a Spanish one.... oh my, the list goes on! Oh quelle joie de découvrir! (oh no.... did I just ask directions to the train station again!).....

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just took your suggestion and found chanteurs on iTunes - great! I spent a year in the south of France when I was (a bit) younger and it brings back fond memories. When I tuned in I just happened to time it for a French version of Neil Diamond's Song Sung Blue - Chanson bleu! It put a spring into my work day today - ThankS!

Alicia M.
Seattle

Pamela Poole said...

Bonjour nonchalant mom !

I thought you might like to know about www.francophilia.com, the social network for francophiles.

You can also follow us on Twitter for daily French culture bites and francophile treats! @francophilia

Merci et à bientôt.

Pamela Poole (LaGoulue)
Founder