Quai du Maroc, in Sète, two gigantic ferries wait. Then, one of them blows a plume of black smoke through its vertiginous chimney and is about to take the sea towards Tangier. Opposite, moored to the quay, the lighthouse The Roquerols sway gently, to the rhythm of the voices of Yolande Moreau and François Morel who, accompanied by Antoine Sahler, sing Lovers of public benches.
The sun, the sea breeze, the Mediterranean port and great tenderness, all of Georges Brassens can be found in this meeting. The singer-poet, born in Sète on October 22, 1921, buried here after his death on October 29, 1981, is its most famous child, along with Paul Valéry, Jean Vilar and Manitas de Plata. It is because the singer-songwriter whose centenary Sète celebrates seems to live forever in his work. His 200 songs count to date more than 5,000 covers.
Brassens “Spends his death on vacation” in the port city, as he had requested in his Petition to be buried at the beach of Sète. His memory blossoms from the small house where he was born to a very pious Neapolitan mother, Elvira, and to a mason and atheist father, Jean-Louis, to the modest tomb under a “Umbrella pine, preferably”. It is found in the popular district of Pointe Courte, on the beaches of the Corniche, on Mont Saint-Clair and in the memory of those who knew it.
“He turned everything with humor”
” Brassens was kind, reserved and he loved life, having fun, laughing. He was mocking, gently, as in the South and, with him, the relationship was simple, we were equal. He gave importance to people, whatever their social status “, remembers Jeanne Corporon, deputy mayor of Sète, daughter of her childhood friend, Henri Delpont, and goddaughter of Jeanne, Brassens’ first companion, that of Jeanne’s cane.
If Brassens impressed with his intimidating stature, tall stature, mustache and gruff tone, “It was not a bear”, remembers Jeanne Corporon. She emphasizes that at her marriage, like those of her brothers and sisters, Brassens had not sung, nor sought to attract interest. “ He didn’t have any of that celebrity stuff, or want to kill the mood. As in song, he was not someone optimistic about the world, but he turned everything with humor. “.
In Sète, Brassens has its school and, for thirty years, its museum, whose centenary exhibition has welcomed a large audience. ” We had a young father who came with his baby in a stroller. He wanted his son to know from a young age the only museum he had ever visited ”, says Yasmina Lahrach from Espace George-Brassens. Touched, she offered free for life to this very young visitor.
At the entrance of the museum, figure this quote from Brassens : “Music gave me thrills that I have never felt otherwise in life”. This thrill passes through his songs, the counting of which he worked on with proud simplicity.
Françoise Canetti, whose mother, singer Lucienne Vernay, was a great friend of Brassens and whose father, Jacques Canetti, launched the artist, evokes a workaholic. “He got up at 6 am to write. But on the recording, he was the man of the first takes. He liked to work like jazz guitarists ”.
From the dramatic crescendo of Prayer to the joy of I have an appointment with you, the tenderness of Non-marriage proposal (written for her great love, Joha) with the irony that slams in Time doesn’t matter, of the generosity of Friends first to the indignant verve of Gorilla, or the meditative melancholy of Petition… his songs speak for him.
“ He said that anyone can be a poet, remembers Françoise Canetti. He meant that anyone can build their life the way they did, from a bad boy as a teenager to the one he has become, a good, generous man, a man of values. “
A very celebrated centenary
This song is yours, 4 CD box set, 70 songs by Brassens or his great performers (Isabelle Aubret, Françoise Hardy, Jonasz, Nougaro, Renaud…), Jacques Canetti / Fnac, € 25.
Brassens the integral, illustrated by Robert Combas, 10 vinyl box set, Mercury / Universal.
Brassens in the text, by Yolande Moreau & François Morel, 1 Universal CD, € 15.99.
A day with Brassens sung by artists from Sète, on France 3 on October 21 at 9:05 p.m.
In Paris, at the Hall de la chanson, shows, singing cafes, and two free balls, on October 17 (Georges-Brassens park) and October 22 (town hall of 14e). Rens. lehalldelachanson.com
Was, concerts, conferences, debates, screenings, exhibitions throughout the fall: on the boat The Roquerols, at the Espace Georges-Brassens, at the Molière theater… Rens. sete.fr or 04.99.04.71.71