Brassens came to me in a wooden box. The kind of old-fashioned trunk that was once used to store old stuff up in an attic but that was eventually elevated to the status of furniture. When I was a kid, some time ago in a land far away, we had a trunk just like that in our living-room. It did not hide a bar, but records. In those days, records were big and made of vinyl. Most of the records were of the classical variety— belonging solely in a parental collection—with a few exceptions. There was a series of plain, nearly identical albums. They all looked like they were made of the wood that contained them. Their only distinguishing features were variations on the wood grain and a small picture of a guy with a thick mustache and sometimes a pipe. In big letters, titles held the promise of interesting stories.

I started listening, systematically, and I discovered songs that you don’t hear on the radio. Songs that challenged my budding literary fibers. Songs that made me chuckle and songs that made me run for the dictionary. This guy with the pipe and mustache was in a class of his own. His records and I became close friends. And then one day I could not contain anymore an urge to sing and share them with others.

Now, my anglophone friend, I share them with you, because there is way more to these songs than just being French. Besides, they show no signs of aging, which is more than I, and maybe you, can say.

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