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]
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.
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.