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The stuff of legend: examining media representations of the Brassens-Brel-Ferré myths

Haworth, Rachel


Rachel Haworth


Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel and Léo Ferré are often grouped together and referred to as the archetypal French singer-songwriters, the 'big three' of thechanson françaisefrom the 1950s onwards. Looseley (2003) suggests that they have in fact become national myths as well as entertainers:chanson artists who enshrine a notion of national specificity particular to popular culture. As such, they are constructed within chanson discourse as the embodiment of a chanson ideal and their songs have undergone a similar mythification process. This article examines the role of press articles and the 1969 radio interview with all three artists as myth-making mechanisms which have helped to construct these singer-songwriters as chanson stars of legendary status and, ultimately, as paradigms of the genre. Situating this analysis within the wider context of chanson discourse illustrates how this Brassens-Brel-Ferré myth is used to signify that which is authentic in the chanson française. The article shows how the media in fact serve to reinforce these perceptions of authenticity and authority within chansonwhich are seen to be incarnate in Brassens, Brel and Ferré.


Haworth, R. (2011). The stuff of legend: examining media representations of the Brassens-Brel-Ferré myths. Contemporary French civilization, 36(1-2), 19-32.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2011-01
Print ISSN 0147-9156
Electronic ISSN 2044-396X
Publisher Liverpool University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 1-2
Pages 19-32
Public URL
Publisher URL