Another influential French singer/songwriter who became popular during the war years, was Charles Trenet. “Without Trenet, we would all be accountants,” said Jacques Brel. Nicknamed “Le Fou Chantant” (the Singing Madman) and resembling Harpo Marx, Trenet wrote mainly comical, some might say “eccentric” songs – nearly a thousand catalogued. His classic “La Mer” (The Sea) is a beautifully melancholic exception. The song has been recorded hundreds of times since it debuted in 1945, and Trenet’s own version is still the best. Nearly 60 years later after “La Mer,” Charles Trenet was still recording his music, releasing Poets Take to the Streets in 1999. Between 1945 and 1999, there were some bumps in the road. In 1963, Trenet spent 28 days in prison in a French prison, charged with consorting with underage boys. It was revealed after Trenet’s death that it was actor Maurice Chevalier who informed the police about his fellow entertainer. Would Trenet have appreciated the irony of being shopped to the cops by the guy who sang “Thank Heaven for Little Girls?” Peut-être.
Classic video clip featuring two giants of French music, Charles Trenet and Georges Brassens
Songs: Le Grand Café, Tout est au duc, Le Petit Oiseau.