Meet a chanteur: Manu Chao

I first heard “Le petit jardin” on my car radio on a Saturday morning. The sun was out (in Seattle, so it was unusual) and traffic was light, and I felt shockingly OK with the world around me. In a way, the song sounds almost like Raffi dueling with a reggae band after they’ve all read and discussed Le Petit Prince. When I got home, I lucked out: the lyrics I happened to remember, when googled, led me to the song.

Have a listen for yourself:

Manu Chao, the singer-songwriter, is an interesting mec.


His parents were Spanish, but moved to France to escape the Franco dictatorship. He grew up surrounded by artists and intellectuals, but the eighties happened and he joined a bunch of bands. He’s done a lot of solo work since then, too, singing in, according to Wikipedia: “French, Spanish, English, Italian, Arabic, Galician, and Portuguese and occasionally in other languages.” Some of his music is rocksome, some is punkish, and sometimes the abovementioned reggae influences come to the foreground. The guy has been a huge success over his long career, but never really in the English-speaking world.

Maybe we should change that.

Bonus: the slightly less Raffi-reggae, sort of alternate-version “Dans mon jardin”:

Meet a chanteur: Georges Brassens

Georges Brassens was like a singing French hybrid of Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut.

I mean that both visually:






(From left: Twain, Vonnegut, Brassens)

…as well as in terms of his personality.

He wrote hilarious, brilliant songs about the absurdity of society and human behavior. Like his moustached brethren above, his lyrics show a deep understanding of humanity, not always in a pleasant way, but always meaningful and somehow hopeful. Don’t believe me? Listen to this song. Look up a translation if you have to.

But Brassens not only got pictures with his pipe; his portraits also prominently feature cats:

Georges Brassens  June 23  1960

…is that enough? Are you convinced yet? Georges Brassens rules.



Blame this boring post on Paris, if you like

I’ve been so busy with prep for a couple months in Paris and other stuff, that I forgot it was my day to post until now. So I give you these two Paris-related youtube videos.

First, Andrew Ryan (no, that’s Andrew Ryan, not Andrew Livingston of What The French?!Although Andrew Livingston also plays a mean guitar, and assorted instruments of his own making) with Waiting for Paris”  (if you like it, he has an EP on iTunes). Not sure why he recorded this Youtube video outside with wind blowing in the mic, but here it is:

And then, there’s Rufus Wainwright’s “Leaving for Paris” presented below in a crappy live recording from a concert in Lille. You can hear him speak French at the beginning, then, for better (but still imperfect) audio, listen to the other video below.

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