As the wonderful Lena Horne has explained!
So what steps have I been following?
It all started with Flanders and Swann.....on Perpetua's blog....'The Gasman Cometh' and 'Have some Madeira, m'dear'....I began to recall other delights of the duo...a 'Transport of Delight', 'Pee, po, belly, bum, drawers'...and, as Lena says...one thing just leads to another....
And so, through Scots folk songs - 'Jock of Hazeldean',' Bonnie Strathyre', I began to recall the songs of my French friends ....loosely called the chanson francais... and came across the website dedicated to its origins -
'Du Temps de Cerise aux Feuilles Mortes'.
What a gem it is!
I'd heard various songs sung at gatherings...the less formal sort..and there used to be a festival of chanson francais just over the departmental border, but this site has it all.
The wheezy early phonographs..even the first recordings made on paper!
Now, I know that even the most dedicated of Francophiles doesn't always have complete mastery of the French language...but I urge you to visit this site where you have the history of France from 1870 to the 1950s expressed in music.
Here, for example is the 'Le Temps des Cerises', inextricably linked withe Commune of Paris, overthrown by the bourgeois army of Versailles...and the conflict is not forgotten. Look up 'la Butte Rouge'....
Then, think of the defeat of France in 1870......the loss of Alsace and Lorraine and the patriotic songs of the following period, such as, much later, recalling the triumphs of Napoleon and smarting from the defeat of 1870 we have 'la Reve Passe'.
And, commemorating the revolt by the vignerons of Languedoc in 1907, we have 'Gloire au 17eme'..the regiment who refused to fire on the protesters and who, for their pains were given punishment duties in North Africa.It is all there on this super website...music hall songs that, once I played them, I remembered old friends humming or singing...songs of the 'grandes horizontales collaboratrices' ...Arletty, Mistinguette....songs I'd heard on the radio...or heard played at revues ...'Quand Madelon'...
'Le chanson francais' is not all Brel and Bressens, though 'Les Bourgeois' of the former and 'Le Gorille' and 'Quand on est Con on est Con' of the latter are not to be missed.
The message of the wonderful 'Tout va bien Madame la Marquise', (try the Sacha Distel version) is still in use in the newspapers today when talking of politicians and their spin on events....
And talking of spin, the website gives a pastiche of 'Temps de Cerises' which is very apposite in this time of economic crisis.
Written by Jules Jouy in 1886 it declares
'Vous regretterez le beau temps de crises
Quand pauvres sans pain et riches gaves
Les drapeaux de Mars flotteront aux brises
Les drapeaux vermeils sur qui vous bavez
Quand viendront le peuple en haut de paves...'
Well, roll on the time when we shall be singing once again
Tout les banquiers a la lanterne....