Most Americans have heard of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel (Belgian), but few know of the most popular and significant French singers of the last century. Some of these are cultural icons, as important in France as Bob Dylan is in the US. Some are revered for the poetry of their lyrics, others for their inimitable singing style or their humor. In addition to discussing Piaf and Brel, we will include Georges Brassens, who is perhaps the most significant French singer of the second half of the 20th century, Charles Aznavour and Yves Montand, both of whom had beautiful voices, and Bobby Lapointe, who was a master of clever and humorous lyrics. Serge Gainsbourg (the father of actress Charlotte Gainsbourg) is in a category of his own, with poetic lyrics and idiosyncratic music. The course is intended above all to be fun, and will include videos, information on the lives of the singers, and translations of their lyrics. No knowledge of French is needed!
The class will be a mixture of lecture, short videos, and discussion; weekly preparation will be about 1 hour, with readings, some songs, and short videos.