Arthur Rimbaud Documentary [via pb] is an impressionistic tour of Rimbaud's life, from a provincial upbringing, through his teenage poetic revolution, to his world travels and moderately successful business career in the Horn of Africa, featuring contemporary photographs, some taken by Rimbaud, and readings by Joan Baez. His poems (English translations, French, with some translated into English, earlier translations, with French originals) were fundamental in overthrowing the established traditions of writing and his personal story has long been an inspiration to those who chafe under the strictures of society. Ruth Franklin wrote about the whole arc of Rimbaud's life in The New Yorker, while Edmund White focuses on Rimbaud's bull-in-a-china-shop entrance into fellow poet Paul Verlaine's bourgeois existence in The Guardian. You can also read earlier biographical writings on Rimbaud, including his sister Isabelle's hagiographic account. Rimbaud's poetry has been set to music, perhaps most notably by electronic musician Hector Zazou and chansonnier Léo Ferré (links to music below the cut). [more inside]
Colette Magny (1926 – 1997) was a French song writer, composer and singer. Overlooked by the media because of her political engagement, she had success in the 1960′s with her blues-oriented repertoire and a big hit with her song “Melocoton (and gum balls)” (1963). Gifted with a strong and melodious voice, she was one of the few French singers at ease with blues and jazz. She sang the poems of great French poets (Rimbaud, Artaud, Aragon, Villon) as well as the repertoire of great blues and jazz singers (Bessie Smith, Billie Holliday) or her own, very creative, songs. Discover or rediscover the rich voice and soul of the great Colette Magny! Basin Street Blues::French Lullaby::Rock Me More And More::Frankie and Johnny::House of the Rising Sun::"Les Tuileries " chanson, texte de Victor Hugo::more.
The Russian mafia and criminals have their own type of music. It's called shanson [chanson]. A couple of contemporary examples by Michael Krug- Kolschik and Lesovopal- Sit Boy l Arcadiy Severnyj (1939-1980) was considered the king of street (prison-folk) songs. Shanson MyRadio channel. [more inside]
The Music of Jacques Brel is an article by music journalist Amy Hanson about the career of pop music legend Jacques Brel and his effect on popular music in the English language. A lot of songs and covers are mentioned in the article, below the cut are links to the songs that I could find videos of online. [more inside]
French musical comedies 1918-1940 [French]. Non-French can still appreciate the programmes, photographs, music and videos.
Johnny Hallyday is perhaps best known to most Americans as French President Nicolas Sarkozy's BFF and "Special American Advisor" (and to younger French kids as that actor in the Optic 2000 ads), but his career started in 1960 and has only now slowed with what has been named his farewell tour. Though he began his career with many Aznavour-penned tracks, he swiftly became a household name by covering British and American hits and adapting them into French. [more inside]
YouTube user lightning49 has 160 of videos of French singers which she has subtitled with her translations. Her biggest collection is of Jacques Brel videos but there are also songs performed by George Brassens, Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf as well as a smattering of other stuff. To start you off with a few songs here are three of my favorite songs by Brel, Je suis un soir d'éte, Le moribond and La valse à mille temp along with Charles Aznavour's La boheme, Edith Piaf's Milord and Georges Brassens' Les passantes.