Location of Repository

The self-conscious chanson : creative responses to the art versus commerce debate

By Kim Tracy Harrison

Abstract

This thesis investigates self-consciousnessin chanson. It examines,in particular, French popular songs that question and problematise the chanson form and the role of the chanson artist. While certain forms of self-consciousnessc an be traced back to the troubadours, this thesis will argue that the specifically self interrogatory nature of self-consciousness found in modern French chanson can\ud be attributed to artists responding to the 'art versus commerce' debate. It is precisely through their responses that a particular conception of chanson is constructed. Chanson, in this self-conscious discourse, differs from both varieties and Anglo-American pop music as well as from governmental and institutional definitions of the genre. The thesis examines the diverse, and at times ambiguous,\ud effects of this self-consciousness. Moreover, it argues\ud that reading chanson from a self-conscious perspective suggests a redefinition of chanson's relationship to\ud cultural debates. It also provides a new interpretative grille for its analysis, and enables the researcher to find different and possibly deeper meanings than those revealed through an examination of overriding thematic preoccupations.\ud \ud The thesis is in three parts. Part I comprises two introductory chapters: an Introduction and a Literature Survey and Methodology (Chapter 1). Part 11 consists of a thematic investigation of the guises self-consciousness takes in chanson. It focuses, in particular, on the conscious evolution of a chanson genre (Chapter 2); the constructed role of chanson (Chapter 3); and the figure of the chanson artist (Chapter 4). Part III comprises three case studies: Serge Gainsbourg, Renaud and MC Solaar. Each artist in Part III was chosen because, on the one hand, his work is especially self-conscious in nature, and, on the other, he makes an original contribution to the art versus commerce debate

Publisher: French (Leeds)
Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:828

Suggested articles

Preview

Citations

  1. (1997). 13 Rap ta France, ed. by Jose-Louis Bouquet and Philippe Pierre-Adolphe (Paris: Flammarion,
  2. (1963). 13 The sociologist Edgar Morin employs the term 'copinisation' in his article 'Salut les copains', Le Monde,
  3. (1984). 142 referenced by Gainsbourg, and will be explored in the following sub-section. ) In Gainsbourg's
  4. (1975). 145 metaphor'. 44 Uncovering the roots of metaphor also seems a concern in Gainsbourg's work, which can further be seen in allusions to Dada, Surrealism and Absurdism, as well as to the Decadent Movement. Te Cadavre exquis'
  5. (1978). 167 becomes a rhetorical ploy, or 'ironic double take', as Hawkins puts it. ' 7 In 'Buffalo d6bile'
  6. (2000). 20 Cited in 'Le Grand Fonun de I'an
  7. (2003). 201961 Les Chaussettes noires. 'Eddie sois bon'.
  8. (2002). 23 Cited in an interview with Philip Sweeney, Wive la chanson! ', The Independent Review, I
  9. (1998). 23 In doi
  10. (1984). 23 The chanteurs were united by Renaud and all profits from the concert went to the M6d6cins Sans Fronti6res. 'Ethiopie's' 'precursor', 'Do They Know It's Christmas' written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, was performed by Band Aid in
  11. (1966). 2b: Subverting the Pop Song Many of the songs written by Gainsbourg in the 1960s and early 1970s, and sung by other performers, do indeed appear, on the surface, to be in the style of standard 'pop' or yeye music. 'Baby Pop'
  12. (1965). 3 Gainsbourg alluded to this during his interview with Glaser, Discorama,
  13. (1972). 32 Gainsbourg discussed the song in an interview with Pierre Bouteiller, during which Gainsbourg and Birkin, along with other dancers, illustrated the dance on the television programme, TW-midi,
  14. (1962). 43 and roll style songs he co-wrote himself such as 'Je cherche une fille' (co-written with
  15. (1979). 44 Words and music by Chelon; the song appeared in the television film Le Crime des innocents by Roger Dallier
  16. (1985). 4a: A Child's Perspective The image of the child, or a childlike perspective, in Renaud's work, represents both innocence or vulnerability and the detached vision of the artist. 'Mort les enfants'
  17. (2005). 58 All quotations taken from //georgesbrassens. artistes. universalmusic.
  18. 62 Words by Phil Datcher and Sibon, music by Patrick Liotard. The song features on an album that is due to be released in 2005. The full lyrics and an excerpt of the song itself are available on Sibon's website.
  19. (1994). 80.291S - Thagall'.
  20. (1994). A child's perspective is also used by both Renaud and Gainsbourg to selfreferentially, and often humorously, pass comment on their own personas. In 'Mon amoureux'
  21. (1941). A Pigalle ayant chante tout Fete Desiree se trouva fort depourvue Quand sans habit se vit nue (Gainsbourg) There is, in fact, a double allusion in this song: to La Fontaine's fable, but also to Charles Trenet's
  22. (2001). A Pleaid of Authors',
  23. (1955). A similar didacticism and complexity can be seen in Charles Trenet's multidimensional view of the entertainment and 'magical' value of popular music, 'Moi, j'aime le music-hall'
  24. (1935). A Star Is Born and the Construction of Authenticity', in Stardom, Industry of Desire, doi
  25. (1997). a: Chanson realiste One of the most prevalent themes in Renaud's songs is the re-working of Parisian myths and musical styles associated with the chanson realiste of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
  26. (1997). also makes this point about MC Solaar, contending that he is a margal 'independent observer and commentator [ ... ] concerned about the evils of the contemporary world but not usually offering any easy solutions to them' (Chanson,
  27. (1990). also uses Babylone as a point of reference in 'Peuples du monde' (words and music
  28. (1979). Although cultural studies is not, as John Storey points out, 'a monolithic body of 49 Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The Meaning qfStyle
  29. (1965). Amaya, Pop as Art: A Survey of the New Super-Realism (London: Studio
  30. (1997). An Introduction to the Theories of Popular Culture (London: Routledge,
  31. (1995). Art Since 1940: Strategies of Being (New York: Harry N. Abrams,
  32. (1999). Art versus Commerce: Deconstructing a (Useful) Romantic Illusion', in Stars Don't Stand Still in the Sky, Music and Myth,
  33. (1984). Artistic and Literary Allusions There are numerous references to inspirational figures-literary, historical and musical-in Gainsbourg's work: in 'Hmm hmm hmm'
  34. (1990). ASIN: B00004UJ5R; Rapattitude 2, Labelle Noir,
  35. (2004). Back to Hip Hop: Sydney'
  36. (1994). Black Noise: Rap and Black Culture in Contemporary America doi
  37. (1968). By the time the Algerian war ended and Renaud started at high school, the Sechan children had 'acquis Fembryon d'une conscience politique', according to Thierry. 2 This embryo quickly grew in Renaud's case and, at the age of sixteen, he participated in the
  38. (1994). CD, B000007W 3 ly Boucan d'enfer.
  39. (2001). Charles Trenet A la rose rouge',
  40. Charles Trenet: 1913-2001', p. 8. 56 Lib&ation, Vý, me du poke s'est envol6e: hommage unanime, hier, des politiques et des artistes',
  41. (1994). Complainte de Pablo Neruda' and 'Federico Garcia Lorca', for example, both refer to the literary figures in the titles. Similarly, Ferrat uses Aragon's verse to allude to the artist Marc Chagall in one of his songs through both the title, Thagall'
  42. (1997). Creating Country Music. - Fabricating doi
  43. (1996). cultural Studies and the Study of Popular Culture. - Theories and Methods (Edinburgh: doi
  44. (1986). Dialogue, Monologue, and the Social: A Reply to Ken Hirschkop', in Bakhtin: Essays and Dialogues on his Work, ed. by Gary Saul Morson (Chicago: doi
  45. (1980). Ferrat 80.1980. LP, Temey, 598.014 DIS 217 'Je ne chante pas pour passer le temps'.
  46. (1971). Ferre's 'Le Conditionnel de vari6tes'
  47. (1960). for example, alludes to Prevert in Ta Chanson de Prevert'
  48. (2005). forming Culture: Hip Hop as doi
  49. (1968). Gainsbourg wrote 'Comic Strip' for a special television programme celebrating Brigitte Bardot, the 'Brigitte Bardot Show', broadcast on I
  50. (1979). Gainsbourg, in an interview with Gerard Holtz, Actualitýs,
  51. (1965). Glaser, in an interview with
  52. (2005). Hennion, 'Musiques, presentez-vous!: une comparaison entre le rap et la techno', doi
  53. II Words by Pierre Delanod, music by Fugain, released on the 1973 album, Fugain et le big bazar,
  54. (2004). Il sort de la sclerose grace
  55. (1976). Impossible or perverse love is the theme of Gainsbourg's film 'Je Vaime moi non plus'
  56. In his later albums, then, wordplay moves away from US-style linguistic manipulation adapted to the French language, to become a reflexive device in its own right. This transition can be understood, in part, by Solaar's own views on 28 Hawkins, Chanson,
  57. (1991). In this sense, Renaud is continuing a chanson tradition in France, following in the footsteps of singer-songwriters
  58. (2005). Introduction', French Cultural Studies, doi
  59. (1963). Jean Ferrat: 8 titres.
  60. (1998). Key Concepts in Popular Music doi
  61. (1997). La Vie en rose: The Singers and the Songs of 20th Century Paris (London: Thames and Hudson,
  62. (1978). Le Music hall ftan(wis: de
  63. (1998). Le Mythe de Claude Franpis, trans. by Frangoise Ghin
  64. (1935). Le Plus Beau Tango du monde'.
  65. (1996). Le Rap; ou, la _fureur de dire (Paris: Editions Loris Talmart,
  66. (1970). Les Folies du music-hall. - A History of the Music Hall in Paris ftom 1914 to the Present Day (London: Spring Books,
  67. (1996). Manifestes du sur? ialisme
  68. (2005). Mind over Matter": The under-Performance of the Body and Gender in French Rock Music of the 1990s', doi
  69. (2001). Modernization and Popular Identity', in Popular Music in France: From Chanson to Techno, ed. by Hugh Dauncey and Steve Cannon (Aldershot: Ashgate,
  70. (1993). Mon propre role, 2 vols (Paris: Editions Denodl, 199 1) Renaud, Des que le chant soufflera (Paris: Librairie Generale Frangaise,
  71. (1989). Music for Pleasure: Essays in the Sociology of Pop (Cambridge: doi
  72. (1981). Music', doi
  73. (1957). Mythologies (Paris: Editions du Seuil,
  74. (1928). nicknamed Tulu', and his twin sister, Liliane, were born into a Jewish family of Russian descent
  75. (1990). On Popular Music', doi
  76. (1990). One of the characteristics most frequently associated with Trenet is freedom-freedom from the strains of daily life and the 'freeing up' of French chanson. Michel Sardou's Ta Maison des vacances'
  77. (1978). Orfmo, member of the Pirates, cited in Frangois Jouffa, Jacques Barsamian and Jean-Louis Rancurel,
  78. (1998). Performing Rites (Oxford: doi
  79. (1996). Pr6vos, 'The Evolution of French Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture in the 1980s and 1990s',
  80. (1971). re-published on the DVD, Serge Gainsbourg: d'autres nouvelles des &oiles.
  81. (1966). Renaud's version of 'Le Deserteur', for example, uses Vian's original text (inspired by the start of the Indochina conflict) as the basis to make a political commentary on contemporary issues. Similarly, Ferrat's Tauvre Boris'
  82. (1963). repr.
  83. (1968). Shu ba du ba loo ba'
  84. (2004). Solaar, plus rap que jamais'
  85. (1991). Some of Renaud's characters are kept on the outskirts of society both physically or geographically and emotionally, like the 'p'tit voleurl in the song of the same name
  86. (2001). Souchon cited in a special TWrama supplement honouring Trenet, 'Charles Trenet: 1913-2001',
  87. (1990). Studying Popular Music (Milton Keynes: doi
  88. Subsequent songs written for Gall reinforced this pop success, and, in 1968, he released Bonnie and Clyde, featuring his own performances of songs set to a pop arrangement.
  89. (1980). Such styling is, of course, a deliberate statement. Claude Fleouter, when reviewing Renaud's Bobino concert for Le Monde in
  90. (1969). the album Jane Birkin et Serge Gainsbourg was released, and featured two autobiographical songs that play on his 'celebrity' relationship with Birkin ('Elisa' and '69, annee erotique'). In
  91. (1979). The destructive power of Gainsbourg's work is also discussed in a selfreferential manner in songs such as 'Des laids des laids'
  92. (1986). The Kristeva Reader (Oxford: doi
  93. (1967). The Literature of Silence: Henry doi
  94. (1994). The quality judgements made of other rappers in Solaar's work are also extended to include the French music industry in general. A song worth exploring in more detail at this point is 'A dix de mes disciples'
  95. (1980). The quotation by Warhol is taken from, Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett, Popism: The Warhol 60s
  96. (1998). The song was first released in
  97. (1983). There are also more subtle examples of Gainsbourg recycling motifs from previous songs, in the sense that the allusions are to lines within songs rather than song titles. For example, the opening line of the song, 'Haine pour aime'
  98. (1976). Through self-consciousness he can also be argued to have brought, like Mitchell and Hallyday before him, a nostalgic assertion of his own place in French musical history. In 'Cette annee-la'
  99. (2002). Tinker also points to Gainsbourg's usage of US popular cultural referents in his article 'Serge Gainsbourg and le dffi amiricain',
  100. (1978). Toto 30 ans, rien que du
  101. (1973). Tragic love is alluded to, for example, through references to Tristan and Isolde and Orpheus and Eurydice, the former in 'Leur plaisir sans moi'
  102. Trenet set this poem-which itself plays with musicality-to music in 1940, and it was later sung by Leo Ferre on his album, F&re chante les poetes.
  103. (2004). Trýres ennemis: French Discourses doi
  104. (1990). Various cover versions of Vian's songs
  105. (1987). Vincendeau is usually associated with writings on cinema and indeed her article discusses chanson from a theatrical perspective. See also, Chanter Made in France, ed. by Brigitte Kernel (Paris: Michel de Maule,
  106. (1994). was released in
  107. (1998). While Solaar's mask-like pseudonyms are to some extent interchangeable, he does make implicit distinctions between them. For example, in 'La 5ieme saison'
  108. (1997). will also be discussed in relation to Solaar's work later in the Chapter. 205 silicone et minous synth6tiques'. The fake and artificial are also connected to the 6copy'. In 'Zoom'

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.