Publication Date: September 20, 2011
Originally published in collaboration with Barbès Records as part of a special-edition boxed set, this book presents musician and translator de Gaillande’s skillful English translations of Brassens’s legendary songs along with artwork by New York artist Hannah Cole.
“De Gaillande … has faithfully translated Brassens’s lyrics into English, preserving both their raunchiness and their defiance.” —The New Yorker
“The person who taught me the most about ethics—more than any priest and for a long time more than any philosopher—was the singer Georges Brassens. Everyone knew he did not believe in God, yet his ethics, though admittedly not in conformity with those of the Vatican, bore the imprint of the Gospels and remained essentially faithful to them, conveying what philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau has described as an ethics ‘with neither obligation nor punishment.’ Perhaps the songs of Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie or the Beatles played a similar role in the English-speaking world.” —André Comte-Sponville
Musician and translator Pierre de Gaillande was born in Paris, France, spent his formative years in California, and moved to New York City in 1994, where he played with cow-punk band Morning Glories and C. Gibbs Review. He formed Melomane as singer/guitarist/songwriter in 1999 and continues to tour internationally with that band, as well as with the band The Snow. He also composes music for film, television, and performance. For the last two years de Gaillande has been translating and recording the songs of iconic French singer Georges Brassens, work for which he was granted a residency at Ucross Foundation in 2009. The resulting album, Bad Reputation, was released by Barbes Records in 2010 in conjunction with this special edition box set from UDP.
From the 1950’s through the late 70’s, the late Georges Brassens redefined French Chanson. He was an anarchist bard whose songs were sometimes raunchy, sometimes polemic, often poignant, and always steeped in classic French poetry—from Françcois Villon to Apollinaire and Aragon.