From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Georges Brassens was born in Sète (then called Cette), in southern France, thirty-six kilometers south of Montpellier. Now an iconic figure in France, he achieved fame through his simple, elegant songs and articulate, diverse lyrics; indeed, he is considered one of France's best postwar poets, and won the national poetry prize. He also set to music poems by many well-known and relatively obscure poets, including Louis Aragon (Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux), Victor Hugo, Jean Richepin, François Villon, Guillaume Apollinaire and others.
During World War II, he was forced to work at a labour camp by the Germans at an aircraft engine plant of BMW in the Service du Travail Obligatoire, (STO, enforced labour), in Basdorf near Berlin in Germany (march 1943). There were many other celebrities, and celebrities to be, at the camp. Here Brassens met some of his future friends, such as Pierre Onteniente, whom he called Gibraltar because the latter was "steady as a rock." They would become the closest of friends.
After being given ten days' leave in France, he decided not to go back to the labour camp. Brassens took refuge in a little slum called "Impasse Florimont" where he lived for several years with the owner of the place, Jeanne Planche, a friend of his aunt. Jeanne lived with her husband Marcel in a dead end street without gas, running water or electricity. He remained hidden there until the end of the war five months later, but ended up staying for 22 years. Planche was the inspiration for Brassens's song Jeanne.
Sortis sans titre à l'origine, les albums sont identifiés par celui de leur première chanson.
- 1960 : 25 cm Philips
- 1961 : 25 cm Philips
- 1962 : 25 cm Philips
Now more than 50 doctoral dissertations have been written about Georges Brassens, and many artists from Japan, Russia, the United States (where there is a Georges Brassens' fan club), Italy and Spain make cover versions of his songs. His songs have been translated into 20 languages, including Esperanto.
Many singers have covered Georges Brassens' lyrics in other languages, for instance Fabrizio De André (in Italian), Alberto Patrucco (in Italian), and Nanni Svampa (in Italian and Milanese), Graeme Allwright and Jake Thackray (in English), Sam Alpha (in creole), Yossi Banai (in Hebrew), Jiří Dědeček (in Czech), Mark Freidkin (in Russian), Paco Ibáñez, Javier Krahe and Eduardo Peralta (in Spanish), Jacques Ivart (in esperanto), Franz Josef Degenhardt and Ralf Tauchmann (in German) and Zespół Reprezentacyjny and Piotr Machalica (in Polish), Cornelis Vreeswijk (Swedish) and Tuula Amberla (in Finnish). Dieter Kaiser, a Belgian-German singer who performs in public concerts with the French-German professional guitarrist Stéphane Bazire under the name Stéphane & Didier has translated into German language and gathered in a brochure 19 chansons of Brassens. He also translated among others the poem "Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux" of the French contemporary poet Louis Aragon. Franco-Cameroonian singer Kristo Numpuby also released a cover-album with the original French lyrics but adapted the songs to various African rhythms.
Nowadays, there is an international association of Georges Brassens fans. There is also a fan club in Berlin-Basdorf which organizes a Brassens festival every year in September.
Brassens composed about 250 songs, but only 200 were recorded. The other 50 were unfinished.
Jean Ferrat wrote the song "À Brassens" ("To Brassens") on his album "Ferrat". The song was dedicated to George Brassens.