The French Singer-Songwriter from Aristide Bruant to the Present Day by Peter Hawkins
’En France, tout finit par des chansons’ is the well-known phrase which sums up the importance of chanson for the French. A song tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages and troubadours of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, chanson is part of the texture of everyday life in France - a part of the national identity and a barometer of popular taste. In this first study of chanson in English, Peter Hawkins examines the background to the genre and the difficulties in defining what is and what is not chanson. The focus then moves to the development of the singer-songwriter of chanson from 1880 to the present day. This period saw the emergence of national icons from Aristide Bruant at the end of the nineteenth century through to internationally recognized musicians such as Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg. Each of these figures used chanson to express the particular moral dilemmas, tragic situations and moments of euphoria particular to themselves and their times.
The book provides bibliographies, discographies and details of video recordings for each of the singer-songwriters that it discusses. It is both an essential reference guide to the genre and a useful case history of the adaptation of an ancient form to the demands of the modern mass media.
(This book is a reprint by Routledge of a book that was originally published by Ashgate Books in July 2000.)