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Anti-Nationalism in Postwar French Chanson

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Taking what is an extremely important period in the development of French popular music as its focus, this article discusses how Léo Ferré, Georges Brassens and Jacques Brel, the major singer-songwriters of the postwar period, opposed nationalism through the medium of chanson. While Brel fiercely regretted the internal divisions of his native Belgium, Ferré and Brassens questioned France's relationship with her external 'others', particularly within the context of the Occupation and the Algerian War. Brassens argued vociferously against all forms of nationalism and collectivism, and defended individualism at any cost. Despite this broad anti-nationalist stance, certain songs by Ferré betrayed a tendency towards protectionism and chauvinism, given his ambivalent attitude towards the growing influence of American popular culture in France.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2002

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