dimanche 31 juillet 2011

Another French myth collapses

This French vidéo was made in 1964 and was a huge hit at the time. So what? will you ask, the 60's were a time of huge hits. Yeah, sure, but this was a real, real, huge hit really. I mean so huge that the title of the song "Zorro est arrivé" (Zorro has arrived)] has now turned into a set expression of the French language. Whether politicians, trade-unionists, school children etc. they'll all refer to "Zorro" in order to indicate that we were in dire straits but the white knight came and saved us all.

Now the singer we see here is a very famous French one (he's dead now) and was still performing after he was 90. He's reckoned to be a great musician (although you can't tell from this clip) and many of his songs now belong to the French repertoire. So I never had any doubt that this Zorro song was as French as the béret and the camembert.

How wrong was I! To my great, great, great surprise, I learned some day that "Zorro" is the French cover of the "Along came Jones" title by the Coasters (1959)!

And eventually it should come as no surprise since the French musical scene was so pathetic during the 60's that the only way to feed the market with popular songs was to cover American hits. The most enduring one in France probably will remain "500 miles" in 1962.

But as astonished as I was to learn about the real origin of Zorro (Leiber-Stoller), how many Americans would be to learn that "My way" is originally a French song? This cover by F. Sinatra is so great that you would think it's kind of emblematic of America. And yet, it was a French song in the beginning, created by the worst disaster to ever strike the French music industry (in terms of quality). I don't give the video, this blog has certain claims in terms of decency...

Zorro is American?!? The things you learn on the Internet...

22 commentaires:

Anijo a dit…

I am embarrassed to admit that I liked this song. I never knew that it was a cover for a song originally written by Phil Everly.

Flocon a dit…

I was 10 when this song was covered in French by Claude François. God knows how many times we heard it on the radio.

Or maybe is it just because when you're young your perceptions are different. But really, no, we heard it play unnumerable times in these days.

Like is written in the post, save for the tradional genre of chansons françaises (Léo Ferré, G. Brassens, G. Béart, Claude Nnougaro et all) the French (and probably European) musical scene was mainly composed of American hits.

Claude François est le symbole même du kitsh et du mauvais goût avec lequel aucune personne un tant soit peu intelligente et cultivée ne voulait être associée.

Bye bye Love is a song that I discovered through the interpretation of Simon and Garfunkel and I liked it a lot.

One must keep in mind that 50 years ago (half a century!) America was still very far away for teen agers and songs were not omnipresent like they are now.

In the 60s UK was much closer and much associated with new music than America was for a majority of us youngsters. Yeah, there were the Beach Boys and the Grateful Dead and some Californian groups but to me at least, that was too far away.

Also one had to buy records if one wanted to hear them and records cost a lot of money. And also I didn't have much money...

Anijo a dit…

And that song (belles belles belles) was still being played when I was living in France in 1975. I also recall this kitsch being played back then. And I liked it...

For some reason I like French kitsch, but American kitsch I can't stand. Perhaps because some of this French music reminds me of being a young lass living in France... memories.. Of course, there was a lot of other kinds of music being played. My girlfriend, Brigitte, was in love with Julien Clerc. What did think about his music Flocon?

Anijo a dit…

You have me reminiscing about my first time in France. I remember after leaving the airport I took a bus to Amboise. The bus driver had the radio on, so this song was the first song I ever heard in France. I remember that this line always puzzled me:

Tu me fais be-bop dans la tête, be-bop dans le cœur

It was just the 'be-bop' part that threw me off. To this day when I listen to it, it doesn't sound like they're singing 'be-bop'. It always sounded to me like they were saying, "tu me fais people dans la tête, people dans le cœur".

Anyway, I was amused by the song as it was a cover for this popular tune by the Beach Boys.

Flocon a dit…

"My girlfriend, Brigitte, was in love with Julien Clerc."

Well I've never been in love with Julien Clerc although he's been a heartbreaker for French girls for about 40 years but I like his songs very much... Funny you mentioned him 'cos I was thinking I could make a break in the Art Farmer week with French songs.

I'll start tomorrow.

Il y a un point commun entre Joe Dassin et Julien clerc though Clerc's songs are lyrically more ambitious than Dassin's ones were.

Both men are sympathetic figures and I can't imagine how someone could object to their personalities. Nice guys really contrary to this Claude François who died some 35 years ago now.

The song "Biche oh ma biche" that you linked to was issued somewhat round 1962 and it also was a big hit. Here's the original American song.

Marylène, French version of Barbara Ann, is very well remembered because it was also used as a TV ad for... cheese!

Martin Circus, the group which covered the song by the Beach Boys was rather successful in the 70s and '80s.

All these kitsh songs weren't exactly my cup of tea but there's no way not hearing them when you're surrounded with radios and TVs.

But these figures of the 60's have reemerged three years ago when some entertainer business guy has had the idea to make them return on stage and now they're touring France with great success. The audience is now in their 60s but not only. Hmmm... it's kitchissimo!

Here's a duett you may not have heard of but who dominated the 80' with really, really good music. They were trendy and avant-garde (to be played mood).


Flocon a dit…

To be played loud of course (I didn't have the courage to post the comment again with 4 links attached...

By the way, the man singing Zorro on the video is Henri Salvador.

Although he was born in Guyana, his family was from Guadeloupe, next to were ZapPow is leading his an ba feuille life! He's part of the French singing patrimoine now.

I remember the name of Cindy Lauper I was told of by Americans in the 80s when I was a street vendor for an American magazine (inter alia). I'll go on Youtube and listen to what she was doing (They told me she was kind of popular and bad taste... ?)

Anijo a dit…

Well I've never been in love with Julien Clerc although he's been a heartbreaker for French girls for about 40 years but I like his songs very much...

Ya, I've never been in love with Julien Clerc either, but likewise I like his songs very much.

I was thinking I could make a break in the Art Farmer week with French songs.
I am looking forward to this.

I'll start tomorrow.
☺ ☺

And now I learn that "Biche oh ma biche" was a cover song. To this day I like the idea that the guy preferred females who did not wear makeup - such an innocent and lovely notion.

But these figures of the 60's have reemerged three years ago when some entertainer business guy has had the idea to make them return on stage and now they're touring France with great success.

Âge tendre et Têtes de bois ?

Here's a duett you may not have heard of

C'est comme ca
Ah, la la la la
Ouais le secret
ca coupe et ca donne
Oh, oh, faut que j'moove
Sans fin du venin
qui me fait mal au couer
Quand le serpent
Chaloupe et console
Oh, oh, faut que j'moove
L'ami Sadi s'enlise
et la ca fait peur
Si c'est ca
Ah la la la la
Ca le sucurre a mes entournures
Ah, ah, faut que j'moove
Ca le grince juste pendant le nuit
Ah, c'est comme ca
ca plonge et ca vire

Ah, ah, faut que j'moove
Et ca gene quoi, quand y'a pas de plaisir
C'est comme ca
Ah la la la la
La lala lala lala lalala...
j'veux pas t'abandonner,mon bebe
j.veux pas nous achever, tu sais
C'est pas que je veuille tenir
ni que ja veunille m'enfuir
Il me faut prendre le frais, c'est vrai
He, he, he
he, viens pres de moi que je te le disa
Faut que j'moove
ce secret qui me tord le coeur
Ah, la la la...

J'ai du mal à comprendre la signification des lyrics. Peut-être demaim je ferai mieux quand je ne suis plus un peu ivre. I've never heard this. Thank you for the introduction. The animation is interesting. I like the music. I note some interpretation of the English/American zeitgeist from a French point of view.

Some may have considered Cindy Lauper to be of bad taste, but as I am a girl I can appreciate this song

Girls just wanna have fun. Well, girls want more than fun, no doubt, but girls do, indeed, wanna have fun.

Anijo a dit…

By the way, the man singing Zorro on the video is Henri Salvador.

According to your friend, 'He is known to have recorded the first French rock and roll songs in 1956'. You have enticed me to consult Youtube re Henri Salvador's French rock and roll.

Anijo a dit…

Okay, I found this.

It's definitively not rock and roll, but it's very lovely. It has a rolling and lilting quality.

The title of the song (Chambre Avec Vue)reminds me of something. I remember making a reservation for a room in a hotel while traveling in France. I asked for "une chambre avec vue", but apparently with my clumsy American accent I ended up asking for "une chambre avec vous". The lady taking the reservations laughed, and gently corrected me.

Flocon a dit…

"And now I learn that "Biche oh ma biche" was a cover song."

Like I told you, most of the hits in the first half of the 60s were covers of American songs. Well I don't know which percentage to be sure but yet...


"Age tendre et tête de bois?"

The other one, Salut les copains.

Période 1960 - 1965... Mais c'était vraiment kitsch and low quality (read no quality).


"J'ai du mal à comprendre la signification des lyrics."

Don't waste your time about it, the lyrics are meaningless, really meaning nothing, it's just that Catherine Ringer doesn't have to sing "la la la"... (en plus il y a des typos dans la transcription)

I'll post another exellent video (their best) later this week.


Girls want to have fun... C'est celle que j'ai écoutée hier sur Youtube mais pas en public à Paris.


'He is known to have recorded the first French rock and roll songs in 1956'

Here it is (1956) but it's a joke, Salvador n'était pas un musicien de rock mais de jazz.

Ses vidéos ne reflètent qu'une partie du personnage. De fait il aimait "déconner" mais il était plus que cela. Mainly he was a dilettante who somehow wasted his talent.

Mon jardin d'hiver est son dernier succès qui est dans le genre where he was at his best.

En fait je ne suis (to follow) pas vraiment (c'est un understatement) ce qui se passe en musique/chanson/jazz/Rock etc. mais il se passe bcp de choses I know.

Ned Ludd a dit…

You might be surprised to learn that Elvis Presley's "Can't help falling in love with you" is a French song.

"Can’t Help Falling In Love est une chanson sentimentale popularisée par Elvis Presley en 1961. Inspirée de la chanson française Plaisir d'amour, elle a été écrite par George Weiss, Hugo Peretti et Luigi Creatore." Wiki.

There is more at Wiki with "Plaisir d'amour".

Flocon a dit…

I can't help falling in love with you.

No, I had no idea. Like everyone knows though, Elvis also sang O sole mio (it' now or never) What a rocker he was!...

Flocon a dit…

Elvis goes wild

An Italian singing Elvis in German...

ZapPow a dit…

I loved the Art Farmer week.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, an international hit coming from Martinique, a traditional song sung here by Henri Salvador, in some sort of botched creole. Though the singer is credited as author, he isn't : he just adapted the song from creole.

<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choucoune_(song)>Some songs just don't die.</a>

ZapPow a dit…

Oops ! A little detail killed the second link :
Some songs just don't die.

Flocon a dit…

There will be a second Art Farmer week but I had to please Anijo who's a demanding lass ;-)

Je ne connaissais évidemment pas la Choucoune et je constate qu'il n'y a pas de version en français. Je sais ce qu'il me reste à faire...

(What about un article en créole haïtien?)

Flocon a dit…

Mine de rien l'article en français sur Oswald Durand a été consulté 246 fois le mois dernier et 226 fois en anglais.

Flocon a dit…


Grâce à toi Wikipedia s'est enrichi d'un article.

Je n'ai pas traduit toute la partie relative aux différentes versions américaines de la chanson (Yellow bird et Don't ever love me), juste le premier paragraphe qui concerne Choucoune.

J'y reviendrai peut-être. Si la traduc te paraît fautive, n'hésite pas à intervenir hein.

ZapPow a dit…

Elle est très bien ta traduction.

Tiens, voici une autre très belle chanson haïtienne. La version live n'a pas la qualité du vinyle, mais celle-ci est une des meilleures. La première fois que je l'ai entendue, celle du disque, dans les années soixante je crois, j'ai eu des larmes aux yeux.

Flocon a dit…

Je m'aperçois que le lien donné ci-dessus n'aboutit pas (ou plus) à l'article.

Revoilà donc la Choucoune

Je m'aperçois également que l'article consacré à Oswald Durand donne déjà les infos disponibles sur Choucoune, il est donc bien possible qu'une demande de fusion des deux articles soit formulée.

J'avais ajouté les paroles du poème mais un bandeau a vite été placé pour inviter à transférer ce texte sur Wikisource. Le texte est cependant disponible sur Oswald Durand d'où je l'avais pris.

"...quelques fragments français et des Caraïbes, c'est carrément moche.

"...a été abondamment mise en valeur", ça ne va pas du tout.

(J'espère que la tempête ne t'as pas affecté)

ZapPow a dit…

La tempête ? En fait, ce n'était que de la pluie. Beaucoup de pluie. Énormément de pluie. An chaille lapli. An tchiolé dlo. Pas une once de vent. Et, à ma grande surprise, dans ma grande maison plus que sujette aux infiltrations, ça s'est mieux passé que pour des pluies ordinaires : un grand nettoyage du toit a permis l'écoulement de l'eau ailleurs qu'à l'intérieur de la maison. Infiltration minime, donc.

Flocon a dit…

Ah ces métropolitains! Incorrigibles. Il est question de grosses pluies et ils s'imaginent déjà que le Déluge est arrivé :-))