Georges Brassens is a French poet
and chansonnier born the 22nd of October, 1921
, in Sète, a small town of Provence
. His father, Louis Brassens was French and as anticlerical as it is possible; his mother, Elvira Dagrosa, was a catholic Italian
widow. He is initiated to poetry
by his highschool teacher, Alphonse Bonnafé, but is thrown out of college an sent to prison
for jewelry theft. In 1940
, Brassens moves to Paris
where he exerts various trades, including bookbinder and worker at Renault
's. A bomb destroys the carmaker's factory, and he becomes unemployed. Autodidact
, he refines his knowledge of litterature by visiting public libraries and booksellers; he also learns to play piano
while living at his aunt Antoinette's house, 173 rue d'Alésia.
He publishes his fist poetry collection, "À la venvole", in 1942. Recruited by the S.T.O. (Service de Travail Obligatoire), he is sent in 1943 at Basdorf, near Berlin, to work at a BMW factory where he meets André Larue (who became a journalist and one of his most successful biographer) and Pierre Oteniente (aka "Gibraltar", his future secretary-factotum). In 1944, he takes advantage of a permission to quit Germany and flee to Paris, where he lives at Jeanne Le Bonnier's house, wife of Marcel Planche (the "auvergnat"). He stays in his room until the liberation. This episode will later inspire three songs, "Jeanne", "La cane de Jeanne", and "Chanson pour l'auvergnat".
Brassens buys his fist guitar in 1945, and tries to launch without much succes a rather non-conformist paper, "Le Cri des Gueux", in 1946. He also meets anarchists such as Marcel Renot, Marcel Lepoil, Henri Bouye and Armand Robin), and writes in "Le Libertaire" under the name Joe la Cédille. He meets in 1947 Joha Heymann ("Püppchen"), a young Jewish refugee of estonian origins ho will be his discrete partner all his life. The following years (1948-1951) are rather hard, without much income, but Brassens is under the protection of Jacques Grello.
In 1952, Brassens gets an audition at Patachou's, where the singer decides to buy a few song and let him perform in her cabaret in Montmartre. He is heard by Jacques Canetti, artistic director at Philips Records; this results in his first recording at the Trois Beaudets, where he meets bassist Pierre Nicolas. In 1953, he plays at the Vieux-Colombier, the Villa d'Este, and Bobino, where he is quite successful. He also publishes his first novel, "La tour des miracles", which is published at the Éditions Jeunes Auteurs Réunis.
He goes to the Olympia in 1954, and records another album; he win the Charles Cros prize of the academy and publishes the book "La mauvaise reputation", which is a collection of poems and songs that includes "Les amoureux qui écrivent sur l'eau", at Denoël. He plays in France and surrounding countries in 1955, and is increasingly popular as he returns to the Olympia and Bobino from 1957 to 1960. He performs in Québec in 1961. His mother dies in 1962.
Brassens recieves the Vincent Scotto prize in 1964; in 1965, Pierre Seghers publishes "Brassens" in the collection "Poètes d'aujourd'hui". His father dies in 1965, along with Marcel Planche. He plays for two months with Juliette Gréco at the Palais de Chaillot in 1966, and recieve the Grand Prix de Poésie from the Académie Française in 1967. In 1968, though he his sympathetic to the cause, he doesn't participate in the May's events. Jeanne dies.
He makes his first and last apparition in an anglophone country at Cardiff University in 1973. He recieves the Premio Tenco singer-writer prize in Italy in 1976 and plays for the last time in Paris in 1977. He plays guitar in 1979 in the band "Moustache et les petits Français", and interprets the hedgehog in the musical "Émilie Jolie". He wins the Grand Prix du Disque for a jazz adaptation of his songs. Brassens records a last double album in 1980 with Georges Tabet for Lino Ventura's Perce-Neige association. Brassens passes away in 1981 at Saint-Gély-du-Fesc, near Sète, at his friend Maurice Bousquet's home.
Perhaps the most well-known songs from Brassens are the following ones; I'll node their lyrics as soon as I find or write a reasonable translation:
Le gorille (1952)
La mauvaise réputation (1952)
Les amoureux des bancs publics (1953)
Brave Margot (1953)
La cane de Jeanne (1953)
J'ai rendez-vous avec vous (1953)
Chanson pour l'auvergnat (1954)
Les sabots d'Hélène (1954)
Une jolie fleur (1954)
La chasse aux papillons (1955)
Auprès de mon arbre (1956)
Les croquants (1956)
Je m'suis fait tout p'tit (1956)
La femme d'Hector (1958)
Le pornographe (1958)
La guerre de 14-18 (1962)
Les trompettes de la renommée (1962)
Les copains d'abord (1963)
La non-demande en mariage (1966)
Supplique pour être enterré à la plage de Sète (1966)
Mysoginie à part (1969)
Mourir pour des idées (1972)
... but he wrote dozens more.
Adapted manly from http://www.cdt-herault.fr/her_culture_celeb_biobrassens.htm and a few other sources.