Jean Ferrat (1930-2010)
(Swans - March 22, 2010) Like many others, he believed in it for a long time, and even after history had showed him what communism was, he kept dreaming of it. That's how dreamers are. They have dreams, they love poetry, and music, and the blowing of the wind on their moustache.
Jean Ferrat was one of them. A dreamer, a poet, within his heart the love of mankind, and a sexy Gallic moustache. A whole period of the French history.
When I read he was dead last Saturday, I felt that kind of sadness that drags you back to youth -- and immediately connected my computer to YouTube to hear him sing again "Ma môme." My favourite. The proletarian poetry of my childhood.
What the hell is this, asked my older son. Just a love song, I answered. One I used to hear on the radio when I was a girl. My mother offered me my first record player when I was eight, and for almost one year, it played the only record I had, "Jean Ferrat chante Aragon." A two-headed monster: Aragon's poetry and Ferrat's voice. I still know them by heart.
Of course, Ferrat is most famous for his social and political convictions. The son of a Russian Jew who was sent to Auschwitz where he died, Ferrat owed his freedom to communist militants who hid him. He'll always remain faithful to the communist ideal, though very early on he denounced the abuses of the Soviet Union, whereas Aragon never recognized them.
Love did not mean to him blind love. Just love of the human being and equality along with his love for poetry.
Portraying an idealist is always risky. But Ferrat was not black and white. He was the singer of cherries and pomegranates, and arrows in grey skies. He had the memory of the past and the hope of the future, guts and brain and heart, mere mankindness. May he rest in the dawn so dear to Verlaine. Oural...
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