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  Charles Trenet  
Le fou chantant
(18th May 1913-19th February 2001)

He was the soul of Narbonne, the South of France voice, one of the greatest representatives of the Chanson for millions of French speakers.

Born and passed away in Narbonne, Charles Trenet let us the image of a smiling man, always happy, who, with his famous rolling-brimmed hat, impressed crowds with his permanent rolling eyes !

Aged 17, Charles Trenet turned up in Paris and wrote his first songs. He got a duet : Charles et Johnny, in 1933. The first shows at the Palace were a flop. Fortunately, the success came with the shows at the Fiacre. A contract was then signed with Pathé Marconi.

In 1936, he went for Istres to do his military service : it’s at this time that he wrote his first great songs : " Je chante " et " Y’a d’la joie ".

He took up in 1937 a solo career and signed a contract with Colombia : " Je chante " was a huge success.

In 1939 he got the "Grand Prix du disque" award with "Boum !".

During the Second World War, he was mobilised in Salon-de-Provence. Demobilised, he came back in Paris in 1942 and wrote some new songs : " Que reste-il de nos amours ? ", " La mer " and " Douce France ".

It’s a triumph. In 1945 he went to the USA, took a flat in New-York and gave a performance in Broadway. Then he left to sing in Los Angeles, to Brazil,...

" La mer " was released as a disc in 1946 : more than 4000 versions of the song were recorded all over the world. Its became a Jazz hit sung by Franck Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Bobby Darin, George Benson...

In 1954 he was in France and appeared at the Olympia : his new songs : " Nationale 7 ", un hymne aux congés payés, and " Moi j’aime le Music hall " were great successes. Charles Trenet has then already sold more than ten millions of long playing records.

Then he disappeared. He came back in 1965 to share the play bill with Georges Brassens.

He made his comeback at the Olympia in 1971 with his song " Fidèle ". He signed a new contract with CBS. The new generations elected again by an overwhelming majority his songs already considered as great classics.

He released in 1992 a new disc " Mon cœur s’envole " from which is extracted the song " Quand les cigales reviendront ". He said his farewells to the stage at the Opéra Bastille in 1993...then reappeared at the Salle Pleyel in 1999.

Tribute to the French-speaking Chanson, Charles Trenet, the marvellous Fou chantant (Fool singing), had an important rendez-vous this Monday 19th February. After a 70 years career...

Je reviendrai quand les cigales seront parties
Je reviendrai de la place Pigalle vers le Midi
Quand les premières brises d’automne
Seront promises aux toits de Narbonne
Quand les platanes dans leur décor
Auront déjà les feuilles d’or (...)
Quand le soleil se couchera nu seul sans personne
Faisant rougir toutes les vieilles rues de Carcassonne
Je ferai comme lui sur une plage
Disparaissant dans l’eau sauvage
Et dans le bal du bain de minuit
Quand les cigales seront parties (x2)

HIS GREAT SUCCESSFUL SONGS : "Y’a d’la joie", "Boum", "La mer", "Moi j’aime le Music hall", "Un jardin extraordinaire", "Fidèle", "Je chante", "Le soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune", "Prosper", "Douce France", "Que reste-il de nos amours ?", "L’âme des poètes", ...

More with Le fou chantant and listen to a sample of "La Mer".

  18 June 2004

Olivier Marteau
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