[THE FOUNTAIN] Charles Trenet, R.I.P.

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[THE FOUNTAIN] Charles Trenet, R.I.P.

The word France reminds people of various images, and among them the chanson vocal style is certainly the most French. It is unique, but general at the same time. Today people enjoy French pop music, which is similar to pop songs in the United States, and chanson has started to adopt the fast and loud styles of heavy metals and rap music. And yet, the essence of chanson is still to be found in music from the 1950s to '70s.

Chanson used to divert depressed people who visit small cafes from their everyday cares with its poetic melodies. It softly sings of the sweetness of love and loneliness of our lives. That maybe why we Koreans feel attracted to chanson among the many different musical styles of the world.

We have favored many chanson singers including Edith Piaf, Yves Montand, Maurice Chevalier, George Moustaki, Mireille Mathieu, Sylvie Vartan, and Salvatore Adamo - becoming short of breath naming all of them. This winter, when snow fell unusually often, we heard Adamo's "Tombe La Neige," many times everywhere in our cities from music record stores on the street to FM radio programs.

Although he is not as famous to us as those named above, we cannot talk about chanson without mentioning Charles Trenet. We may not remember his name, but many people do recognize his most famous song, "La Mer." He won the heart of listeners with his poetic songs portraying the scenic beauty of the Mediterranean Sea near Narbonne in southern France, his hometown.

Like many chanson singers, he had talents in many different fields. He was born in 1913, and showed his special gift in music by composing his first chanson when he was seven years old. However, he was originally an aspiring literary man. When he was young, he published his first poem in "Mercure de France," a literary journal. He also wrote two novels.

Later, Maurice Chevalier recognized his God-given voice, and supported him in his debut as a singer. In 1938, he received the record of the year award with his album, "Boum," and became a star. During his career as a singer of over 60 years, he composed and sang 1,000 chansons. Called by the nickname, "The Sun King of Chanson," he held a concert last November at his age of 86 and met with his fans.

The Sun King of chanson, who always wore funny hat and red carnation in his lapel and made his fans laugh, died in Paris on Feb.18. French President Jacques Chirac paid homage to Mr. Trenet describing him as "a magician of words."

Charles Trenet has now become the legend of chanson. Listening to "La Mer," let us pray that his soul may rest in peace.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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