Today and tomorrow I will post several guestposts in honour of Dia de los muertos, the Day of the Dead (November 2) or All Souls Day. French songs, of course. Sylvester kicks off with dead leaves on dirty ground.
Death brings so many sweet melodies to my mind. It was one the favourite themes of Jacques Brel (‘Mourir la belle affaire. Mais Vieillir… ô vieillir!’); Léo Ferré immortalised his deceased monkey Pepée in a song; Renaud scolded the Putain de camion which killed his friend Coluche in a motor accident; a heartbroken Serge Reggiani sang La barbe à papa in dedication to his son, who committed suicide a year earlier; Barbara unforgettably memorized a visit to her dying father in Nantes – he had already passed away when she arrived… Oh… Hallelujah! So many lovely chansons death has brought upon us!
My all-time favourite was an offspring of the renowned artistic collaboration of composer Jacques Kosma and poet Jacques Prévert. Together they wrote not only the evergreen Les feuilles mortes (Autumn leaves), but also Barbara. Melancholically, a man remembers the happy smile of a young girl he once saw in Brest. It was shortly before the war, which brought death and destruction to the city. What will have happened to this girl – Barbara? Like Les feuilles mortes, this song was made famous by Yves Montand, but I prefer the even more sober interpretation by Les Frères Jacques.
Les Freres Jacues – Barbara