Friday, 4 May 2012

Jean-Jacques Goldman

 Bonjour mes lecteurs!

 It's about time I did a blog entry on Jean-Jacques Goldman; after all he is one for my favourite singer/songwriters and I also owe a lot of the French I know to him!

 Firstly, if you don't speak French, please don't be put off listening to his music. There is a strong case for music being THE universal language. Whilst the lyrics are important, there is also so much of the song in the voice, the emotion, the melody and the instruments. And if you can understand the lyrics, that's a bonus, especially with Jean-Jacques Goldman because his lyrics are generally very beautiful.

 I will share with you some of my favourite Goldman songs and why I love them, and I will quote and give my translation of some of my favourite Goldman lyrics.

 I discovered this singer through my brother; and I am very grateful to him for leading me to this musical genius. It came about because my brother and I often listen to a French compilation CD we have, named "Platine 45," after the Jacky TV music show of the same name that ran in France in the 80s. The compilation contains songs of the time mainly from France but with a few British or German additions. One of the French songs is "Je Marche Seul," by Jean-Jacques Goldman.

 I had never listened to this song; I don't know why. Many of the songs on that CD I have only discovered recently, because I once had the somewhat cowardly tendency to stick to the English language songs that I understood. More recently that has changed completely and now I listen to French music as much as English; maybe more if I'm in a particularly French sort of mood.

 Anyway, at the time I discovered Jean-Jacques, I had listened to and enjoyed a few of the French songs on the CD, and then my brother suggested listening to this. I did, not expecting much because I arrogantly thought I had already sniffed out all the good songs on the CD.

 However, within a verse's worth of Je Marche Seul, I was in love. Well, maybe not quite yet, but I certainly thought it was a very good song.

 I then went away and forgot about it. Then, a bit later, I was on YouTube and I decided to find it. I did, and I enjoyed it so much I set to learning the words to it, which I managed pretty quickly. I still know them to this day.

 The first video here is the version I first saw and fell in love with. The second appears to be the official video, but I find it a bit odd. It might help if I understood Russian (if that's what language it is).

 Having discovered this, I searched YouTube for other Jean-Jacques videos, and came across several similarly up-tempo songs such as Encore Un Matin (which taught me how to form possessive pronouns in French). 

 These songs I liked, but it wasn't until I found Famille that I realised I had been missing out on the other side of Goldman; the side I would come to love so dearly. Besides the writer of catchy and powerful pop/rock songs, there is also the tender, gentle side, who writes beautiful, inspirational, moving and emotional songs. I honestly don't know now how I lived before I discovered his music.

 Famille is just stunning; so beautiful. He plays piano gorgeously, and he sings with such emotion and love. The lyrics are beautiful, although admittedly at one point not very politically correct. But the overall sentiment of this chanson is just adorable. I love it. One of those songs you can always, always listen to, and that you can listen to again and again without getting tired of it for one minute.

 From this song, I discovered On Ira, in the list of associated videos at the side on YouTube. This has become perhaps my favourite Goldman song, and even one of my favourite French songs (and I listen to a lot of French music nowadays, so that is a strong accolade!) It is just so incredibly beautiful. 

 I searched in vain for a long time to find out who the actress in this video is; eventually it transpired it is Elodie Navarre. I had thought she seemed familiar to me, and looking up Navarre I found out she was in a French film I saw a few years ago called, "Jeux d'enfants" (Love Me If You Dare seems to be the English title). That might explain the familiarity, although I don't think I can really remember her character. 

 Anyway, I think she does a really good job in this video, although I don't by any means condone rude hand gestures. But basically, I think this song is amazing.

 "Oh belle, on ira, on suivra les étoiles, et les chercheurs d'or, 
Si on en trouve, on cherchera encore!"

 "Oh my beautiful, let's go, we'll follow the stars and the gold-diggers,
And if we find them, we'll keep searching!"

 But every line of this song is amazing and so moving. It will always be one of my favourite songs in any language.

The next JJ Goldman song I came across was Au Bout de mes Rêves. 

 It is more bouncy and upbeat than the previous two songs I have highlighted, but I find it is also very beautiful and the lyrics are very good if, like me, you like analysing songs, because I find them a bit ambiguous and therefore interesting to look into, not to mention pretty and poetic. 

 Plus, the musicianship in this song is just amazing, and the song itself is so happy! It can really make you feel better if you're not in too good a mood. It makes me smile :)

 And in the second video, I think the way they put a music note in the middle of their "Melody" channel logo is quite clever. (Not very relevant, but I thought I'd mention it!)

 I then found, "Là-Bas." Need I say more? I don't think any words can do justice to such a beautiful, wonderful song. Here it is:

 The beautiful, talented woman who sings in this is called Sirima, and I think she is simply amazing. 

 So beautiful, such a good voice - and an unusual voice - and plays the part of her character in this song and video so convincingly and with such raw, tender emotion. 

 She would have been a superstar, I know it. But sadly she died two years after Là-Bas was released; murdered at the age of twenty-five. I cannot believe what a waste this was; of life, of talent; and even if she hadn't been a talented singer, ending anybody's life at twenty-five is just horrendous. 

 Although it is little consolation, at least we have this song and video to remember her by. 

 For those who can't understand the French (although I think a lot of it is illustrated well in the video) this is a song about emigration. Well, that is how it appears to me. Goldman's character ponders leaving their rural home to try to find a better life in an unknown place referred to only as "Là-Bas" - "over there." Meanwhile, Sirima, playing the role of his girlfriend/fiancée, begs him to stay because she wants to marry him and start a family. She worries that;

"N'y va pas; il y a des tempêtes et des naufrages.
Le feu, les diables, et les mirages.
Je te sais si fragile parfois,
Reste au creux de moi."

"Don't go there; there are storms and shipwrecks,
Fire, devils and mirages
I know you to be so fragile sometimes,
Stay here close to me."

 Words cannot describe how much I love this song ♥ It's almost humbling to listen to; it's so stunning and... just perfect. You couldn't ask for more in a song. This is in serious contention with On Ira for the title of my favourite JJ Goldman song. It is so beautiful.

 Also, because of the time when I discovered it and first listened to it a lot, it is connected to certain memories and sentiments for me personally. Just hearing the beat can transport me to another place and time. I hadn't anticipated this happening, but it does, and it's yet another thing to make me love this song.

 I mentioned this song and how much I liked it to my French teacher, also a Goldman fan, and she recommended that I listen to Puisque Tu Pars (Since You Left), a Goldman song on the same album as Là-Bas. I gave it a listen, and I have to admit that the first time I heard it I wasn't that keen on it. However, the second time I listened to it, I fell in love with yet another Jean-Jacques Goldman song.

 Listening to it now I can't believe I didn't realise straight away how astoundingly good it is. So beautiful and heartbreaking. The video as much as the song. Both are so simple, yet work so perfectly to convey their message, and both are so moving and can make me feel quite emotional.

 The next (and penultimate) JJG song I wanted to share with you is Il Changeait la Vie. 

 Another song that I didn't like the first time for some reason but I loved from the second listening onwards. I think it forms the bridge between Goldman's softer, gentler songs, and the more up-tempo, high energy anthems. This song is tender and emotional and the lyrics are so touching; whilst the beat is fast and catchy and I love it.

 It tells the story of how ordinary people can really make a mark on somebody's life; he highlights a cobbler, a teacher and a saxophone player. I really like the tune, but with this song it is certainly les paroles - the lyrics - that make me love it.

 About the saxophone player:

"Et il mit tant de temps, de larmes at de douleur;
Les rêves de sa vie, les prisons de son cœur."

"And he put in so much time, so many tears, so much pain;
The dreams of his life, the prisons of his heart."

 I love it ♥

 The final JJG song I wanted to tell you about is Juste Après - Just Afterwards. 

 I must warn you now that the video is very graphic and contains scenes which you might find upsetting. It is centred around a baby being born not breathing, and the medics' attempts to save the child. It is very moving but also, as you would probably imagine, very scary, graphic and could be upsetting. So proceed with caution.

 The video may not be watch-able for certain people, but I would recommend the song itself to anyone. It is just so beautiful. I would just love to be able to play it on the piano. 

 His guest singers, whom I believe to be Michael Jones and Carole Fredericks (although I would appreciate this being in the YouTube video description! They don't even credit Sirima in Là-Bas on YouTube), are brilliant too, and I think the three of them singing together is what elevates this from a very good Goldman song to a stunningly beautiful celebration of human life.

 It is so haunting, yet so positive and hopeful at the same time. I have truly never heard another song quite like it.

 I haven't been trying to put these songs in the order of when they were released; it's more the order in which I discovered and inevitably fell in love with them. However, I've realised that by chance the first and last song of this blog entry were released a decade apart - not only showing that JJ Goldman was on the French music scene for a long time, but a sign, I think, that Goldman's music and way of writing songs will never get old. It is timeless. 

 Yet another contender for my favourite Goldman song! I don't know if I'll ever be able to decide for sure which is my favourite. I'll just accept that they're all amazing. One thing is for sure, Jean-Jacques Goldman is sans doute - without doubt - my favourite French singer and I know I will always listen to and appreciate his music. 

 So merci tellement to my brother and my teacher for helping me discover and learn more about this wonderful artist whose music has made me so happy over the year or so since I first found it.

 I hope that you, my reader, enjoy his music too. 

 Merci d'avoir pris le temps de lire cet article.

 Liz x

Je Marche Seul - Jean-Jacques Goldman - 1985
Famille - Jean-Jacques Goldman - 1985
On Ira - Jean-Jacques Goldman - 1998
Au Bout de mes Rêves - Jean-Jacques Goldman - 1983
Là-Bas - Jean-Jacques Goldman - 1987
Puisque Tu Pars - Jean-Jacques Goldman - 1988
Il Changeait la Vie- Jean-Jacques Goldman - 1988
Juste Après- Jean-Jacques Goldman - 1995

No comments:

Post a Comment