Léo FERRE (2/10) : Vingt ans / La chambre / Le scaphandrier
Léo Ferré (24 August 1916 – 14 July 1993) was a Monegasque poet, composer and a dynamic and controversial live performer whose career in France dominated the years after the Second World Waruntil his death. He released some forty albums over this period, composing the music and the majority of the lyrics. He released many hit singles, particularly between 1960 and the mid-seventies. Some of his songs have become classics of the French chanson repertoire, such as Avec le temps, C’est extra or Jolie Môme.
Along with Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg, he is considered one of the greatest French singer-songwriters of all times, but unlike Brel and Gainsbourg, or even Charles Aznavour, his songs are very little known in the English-speaking world. Ferré was an anarchist; he may be the greatest French protest singer ever.
Ferré’s lyrics were extremely incisive and tuned in to the issues of the day, but also astonishingly poetic. He mixed revolt with love and melancholy, sophisticated lyricism with slang and shouts, rhyming verse with prose monologues. He moved from music-hall to symphonic music, breaking free from the traditional song structure, inventing his own musical territory, powerfully dramatic and unique. He also popularized the French poètes maudits, such as François Villon, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, and Arthur Rimbaud, as well as great French poets from the 20th century like Guillaume Apollinaire and Louis Aragon, by setting into music many of their poems.