ALL ABOUT THE French singer-songwriter Renaud.

Essay by mr_lallyJunior High, 8th gradeF, December 2003

download word file, 4 pages 3.8

Over the past twenty-five years, French singer-songwriter Renaud has emerged as his country's leading exponent of chanson sociale, a rich and diverse tradition of popular song which has helped to rally, educate and galvanise dispossessed groups in French society since the first half of the nineteenth century. Renaud became well-known in the second half of the 1970s by singing about zonards (delinquent youths) from the housing estates of suburban Paris. Since then, he has tackled a range of themes, from military service and heroin addiction to the destruction of the environment and capitalist imperialism in the Third World. His repertoire includes love songs, chansons idiotes (a comical, risqué genre), traditional chansons réalistes from the Belle Epoque and interwar years, and songs by his idol, Georges Brassens.1 He has produced a series of charmingly naive illustrations to accompany his own songs. He has also performed as an actor, most notably in the role of Etienne Lantier, in Claude Berry's 1993 screen adaptation of Zola's Germinal.

He has written a children's book entitled La Petite vague qui avait le mal de mer (1989) as well as a regular column for the satirical, left-wing weekly, Charlie-Hebdo. An outspoken supporter of numerous minority causes, he recently joined the Régions et Peuples Solidaires list led by the Corsican autonomist Max Simeoni at the 1994 European elections.

Renaud is known primarily for the provocative anarchism and linguistic inventiveness which characterise his songwriting. He has roused the ire of politicians on both the Left and the Right. Some of his songs have been banned outright; others have simply been given little or no airplay. However, he has achieved spectacular commercial and critical success. By 1981, his album sales generated 45% of Polydor's annual profits.2 His lyrics are studied in university French departments all over the world and...