Pourquoi je chante en français ?

Serge Gainsbourg smoking.
  1. Serge Gainsbourg
  2. An attempt to hide the sound of my own voice
  3. A desire to be able to be fluent next time I visit France

In the U.S. we don’t get exposed to a lot of French language music. If you go looking there is a whole new world to discover. Recently I have become enamored with Bertrand Belin, Dominique A, Arthur H, Izia, Mademoiselle K, and M. What’s with all the initials? I don’t know, but it is super cool, and it probably has something to do with Serge Gainsbourg. It seems that all roads in contemporary French music (at least the parts that inspire me) lead to Serge. By blurring the lines between pop, rock, folk, and jazz he threw away the rule book and let language take center stage. The words may not even make sense as long as you really mean it when you sing.

Faced with a blank lyric sheet I feel oppressed by language. The fear of words freezes me in my tracks. What I want to say is simple and direct, but fear tries to convince me to be clever or obtuse. In French, all I can do is say what I mean. I don’t know enough to complicate it. Even the simplest thing sound new and exotic to me. The words become music and the voice just another instrument.

The more I sing in French the more I understand. The words and phrases stick in my head in a way that years of conjugating verbs has never done. I dream of traveling back to France with my wife sometime soon. Maybe I will be able to have a full conversation when I get there. If you can’t understand me when I speak, I’ll trying sining to you.

À bien tôt.