Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Johnny Hallyday est mort à l'âge de 74 ans

Johnny Hallyday est mort à l'âge de 74 ans.

Isn't French interesting? If you are a native English speaker with a good enough education you can understand rather a lot of it, as long as you can see the words on the page. In the air it's another story. The sound system for the French language is obscure and complex. There are many sounds that are not easy to make with a human head and vocal system. For me, the strange sound of French has always been a fatal obstacle for the enjoyment of French singing.

What you need for proper singing is a nice, neutral sounding language. Portuguese is the best, I think, and Italian is very good. English is a good singing language as well.

French singers are a puzzlement to me. I watch variety shows sometimes on TV5 Monde. The women are very decorative, that much is true. The men, well I wonder if they're just there for comic relief. The music is undistinguished, and I don't find the songs compelling. I do not understand French, but not understanding the language of a song has never been a barrier for my enjoyment. I love a lot of Japanese music, for instance.

I have been aware of Johnny Hallyday almost forever. I met a great friend who was quite the Francophile in 1965, and of course he had Johnny Hallyday records (among many others, Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, and a lot of pop music. His favorites were Les Etoile). I failed to be impressed, but he was undoubtedly a good looking man with a certain charisma. In photographs from the beginning of his career in the 1950s he appears as a beautiful teenager. He was hard-working and not untalented, and I would be pleased if anyone thought that much of me.

Well, he's gone now, so that's that. My sincerest condolences to the French people, who obviously had great love and respect for the guy. RIP Johnny H., aka Jean-Phillipe Smit.

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