After all that hardass rock the last cou­ple of days, I feel the need of some­thing soft­er. Alors, prof­i­tons d’une très douce chan­son française de Ge­orges Mous­ta­ki… oh wait. I’m talk­ing about Ge­orges Mous­tak­i, a fran­co­phone singer-songwriter of gen­er­al­ly Mediter­ranean ex­trac­tion who was hot stuff when I was in high school a hun­dred years back. This is se­ri­ous­ly sweet sonorous stuff.

When I get in­to some­one ob­scure (to 21st-century An­glo­phones) like Mous­tak­i, I have a hard time men­tion­ing just one song in a large body of work, so I’ll men­tion and link to a cou­ple.

Georges Moustaki

Did I say “generally Mediterranean”? Per Wikipedi­a, he was born Giuseppe Mus­tac­chi in Alexan­dria to par­ents who were Italian-speaking Fran­cophile Greek Jews from the is­land of Cor­fu. What’s kind of amus­ing is that his first big hit was Le Métèque, a word that mean­s, more or less, “Wop” or “Dago”; it talks about him be­ing a wan­der­ing Jew and Greek shep­herd. No record com­pa­ny would take it, so Mous­ta­ki self-published on a 45RPM sin­gle and be­came a star. Mind you, he’d al­ready carved out a nice niche by that point writ­ing songs for all the big-name French stars; mu­sic was al­ways good to him.

His songs al­ways have acous­tic ar­range­ments with a south-Europe lilt. Mous­ta­ki has a soft bari­tone and of­ten had so­pra­no singing har­mo­ny with him, usu­al­ly to beau­ti­ful ef­fec­t. They were most­ly about love, hope­less­ly ro­man­tic.

I’m go­ing to fea­ture two songs. The first, Le fac­teur, be­cause it’s so sim­ple and sweet, and has that heart­break­ing so­pra­no har­mony. It’s about a dead seventeen-year-old and goes to a place so ro­man­tic I think it’s out of the English language’s reach: C’est lui qui ve­nait chaque jour / Les bras chargés de tous mes mots d’amour / C’est lui qui por­tait dans ses mains / La fleur d’amour cueil­lie dans ton jardin.

Se­cond, L'homme au cœur blessé, just be­cause it was my fa­vorite song for a while when I was in Grade Ten or so. It’s not even by Mous­tak­i, but a cov­er of a tune by Theodor­akis. What’s crazy is that I didn’t know that un­til I looked the song up just now, even though I’ve long been a huge Theodor­akis fan, par­tic­u­lar­ly of the sound­track to the move Z.

This the 110th in the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. Le fac­teur on Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy. L'homme au cœur blessé on Ama­zon, iTunes, Spo­ti­fy. Live video of Le fac­teur and L'homme au cœur blessé (weak, but with Theodor­akis and Meli­na Mer­couri in the au­di­ence).


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From: Andy (Apr 30 2018, at 00:16)

From a 20th c. anglophone and francophone: how can you mention Moustaki and not *my* favorite song of his, Les milles routes. It's about backpackers around the world, though probably hippies in India at the time. Also fits the pattern with the soprano harmony. Il est trop baba cool (also untranslatable).


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