French (and Breton) Songs

I’ve been trawling the internet this week trying to track down some French songs to download for our mega 17-hour car trip next week. It’s not always easy tracking down songs you’ve heard on the radio but know neither the title nor the artist – even more so when your grasp of the language isn’t that great. Which meant I’ve spent quite a lot of time on YouTube sampling possible candidates – who knew there were so many songs with na na na in the title?:)

I thought I’d share a few of our finds with you.

The first isn’t a song we’re taking with us as it’s far too depressing, and passengers don’t like it when the driver bursts into tears – it dents their confidence. But the song’s brilliant, and to get the full effect, it’s a song that has to be seen. This is a clip from around 1962. The singer is Jacques Brel who, if anyone’s looking for a famous Belgian to add to their list and is stuck after Hercule Poirot, was both a brilliant songwriter and a performer without equal. Many artists have covered ‘ne me quitte pas’ (If you go away) – Dusty Springfield probably sung it better – but no one comes close to the emotion that Brel puts into this song. Brel was a one off. It’s often said that other singers interpret songs, Brel lived them.

Here’s the YouTube link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSfc662vXZU

Have a box of Kleenex handy.

Next here’s one that we are taking with us. This took a lot of tracking down as it’s in Breton. It’s an arrangement of an old Breton sea shanty with a chorus that will stick in your head for days. It’s become so popular it’s almost become a Breton national anthem – hence the black and white flags in the video. It’s called Tri Martolod (Three Sailors) and it’s sung by Alan Stivell. So take a look at some Celtic folk rock, with a harp solo,  from Brittany. Here’s the YouTube link (apologies for getting it wrong first time around): 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z593IhlhR4su

The third video is ‘Je Veux’ by Zaz. It’s another ear worm – simple, catchy and can be seen hear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbF4G_cQ8uc

The ear worm police prevent me from listing any more, but I’m sure you can come up with some.


Chris Dolley is an English author living in France with a frightening number of animals. More information about his other work can be found on his BVC bookshelf

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Medium Dead – a fun urban fantasy chronicling the crime fighting adventures of Brenda – a reluctant medium – and Brian – a Vigilante Demon with an impish sense of humour. Think Stephanie Plum with magic and a dash of Carl Hiaasen.
What Ho, Automaton! – Wodehouse Steampunk. Follow the adventures of Reggie Worcester, consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves. It’s set in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs. Humour, Mystery, Aunts and Zeppelins!
French Fried true crime, animals behaving badly and other people’s misfortunes. Imagine A Year in Provence with Miss Marple and Gerald Durrell.
International Kittens of Mystery. If you like a laugh and looking at cute kitten pictures this is the book for you. It’s a glance inside the International Kittens of Mystery – the only organisation on the planet with a plan to deal with a giant ball of wool on a collision course with Earth.

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French (and Breton) Songs — 4 Comments

  1. The ear worm police teamed up with the typo monster and messed up one of your links.

  2. I love Tri Martolod! And Brel sure does wring every centime of emotion out of an already killer song.

    Please put more up! I’ve tried hard to troll this kind of music from here, and it’s even tougher than from there!

  3. The link for the Breton sea chanty appears to be identical to the one for Jacques Brel. I’ve tried it twice and got Brel both times.

    Any chance of a correction? Merci.