Thomas Chaline’s “Cabrel: Une Vie En Chansons”

Cabrel book

Thomas Chaline has just published a unique book on Francis Cabrel. His bet? Tell the man through his songs. He tells us about his admiration for the Astaffort artist.

“Me, I feel like I told everything inside my songs. They just had to listen!” A phrase launched by Francis Cabrel to Michel Drucker in 1983 which marked Thomas Chaline, guitarist, music fan and author of several books on French singers. In “Cabrel, a life in songs”, it is the texts of the author from Lot-et-Garonnais that he goes through with a fine comb, to better pierce … the man.

Why write about Francis Cabrel? 

Thomas Chaline: 

“It’s simple, he’s been my idol since adolescence. When I had all the problems in the world like any self-respecting teenager, his reassuring face soothed me. The first time I heard one of his songs, it blew me away. I knew I would write about him one day or another, as a personal tribute. ”

You mention in the foreword of the book the work of investigating song by song: is it more complicated with a personality like Cabrel?

“It’s the same approach in all my books, but this time I knew the artist’s work very well, I only had the pieces of the puzzle to put together, by interviewing his relatives, like Philippe Sella and others. But it is true that he is a mysterious personality. ”

How did Francis Cabrel react?

“He didn’t want to get involved but was curious to see how I was going to get out of it. He even confided to relatives that he had forgotten some stories!”

You have, it seems to me, met, can you tell us about this episode?

“It was completely by chance, one summer in Hossegor in 1998. We talked about music, he’s really a guitar lover. He was everything I imagined about him. He was on vacation, he would have completely could tell me to go and show myself, but he didn’t… ”

Have you come here, to its Astaffort lands?

“I’ve been to his village before, yes, and when you see him, you understand everything. You understand how he lives, and why he releases an album every five years.”

You talk about his attachment to his roots …

“Yes, it’s something very important to him, he always assumed that” redneck “side, portrayed in some shows like” Guignols de l’Info “. In fact, he doesn’t care. J he likes that he is not in the seraglio, in show business and that he has always kept his values. He has never had to fit into the mold, to be round back. ”

The man does not confide much in the media but says everything in his songs?

“He brings up many personal themes, and often takes a stand, you really have to take the time to pay attention to his words. As a guitarist, that’s what interested me, to see what triggers the desire to to write.”

You also talk about the influences of Francis Cabrel, especially blues and American folk.

“Yes, that’s a point in common that we have, he admires artists like Jackson Browne or Bob Dylan. We also have other points in common, we were both born at the end of November and we have a strong link with Vietnam , country of her adopted daughter and one of my grandmothers. ”

Will you come to Agen or Astaffort to present your work “Cabrel, a life in songs”?

“I would have liked a lot, but the Covid-19 crisis is depriving me of it, it’s very annoying!”

“Cabrel, a life in songs”, by Thomas Chaline published by Hugo Publishing. Released September 24

Source: Small survey on the songs of Francis Cabrel –

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