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‘If I didn’t sing, I’d be a whore’

A year ago, I made a radio documentary about Barbara, the French singer-songwriter who is never far from my mind.

For the 15th anniversary of her death last month Didier Millot, former head of the French prime minister’s office, brought out a comprehensive study of her life and work.

barbara millotAnd I have just come across this extraordinary television mini-doc that reveals more of her at work than any I have ever seen. It allows encourages her to make  sweeping statements like ‘my religion is love’ and ‘If I didn’t sing, I would certainly be a putain.’

Fascinating, start to finish. Watch.

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Comments

  1. Didier Millot is not exactly “head of the French prime minister’s office”, but Secretary-General of the Strategic Analysis Centre (Centre d’analyse stratégique), heir of the former Planning Authority, that comes under the control of the Prime Minister.
    Anyway, Barbara was a huge artist, indeed.

  2. Thank you for honoring this great artist with your post. I discovered Barbara on one of my trips to France in the late 1980s. It started with one cassette tape; it continued with many more recordings, including a wonderful 4-CD set on Chant du Monde.

  3. Well, I confess I never heard of her. And I don’t speak French. Since Norman knows more about her than I do (and probably has better judgment) I took the trouble to look her up in Wikipedia.

    So, I can only assume that her life and the songs she sang must have touched a nerve in the French people, much as Dylan did for Americans in his day. But neither are really singers, actually.

  4. Speaking of ‘whores’ and entirely off topic,
    the proverbial pot Gergiev calls Pussy Riot, the kettle, black.

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      Please tell the Maestro to get a shave, give a clear beat, and forget about the Pussy Riots, Pussy Galore, and Puss’n boots. But he knows who will enable his mystical and mythical career and that person is the President Putin who capitalized on Galina’s passing to build his image. Anyone remember the sight of Slava next to Yeltsin with a machine gun on his lap in the early 90s? Now that was a scary sight. And of Bill Clinton laughing like a fool while Yeltsin insulted the Press? My hero is Gorby. Heated discussion to follow.

      A friend whom I can’t name (for reasons beyond my control) has commented that with the unfortunate passing of Galina, Slava’s vacation in Paradise is over!

      • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

        PS: Barbara was an important musical force in France. Her legacy is revered by all, musician and public.

  5. Anne O'Neal says:

    I had never heard of Barbara (and had to brush up on my extremely rusty French) to follow some of the interview portions of the film — but what an exceptional voice with such a gorgeous, clear tone! Maybe it’s because of the time period when the film was shot, but her appearance and performance style remind me of Maria Callas — that sense of total engagement with the material being sung and the sense of privilege that you have while listening of being granted a glimpse into the singer’s private world.

  6. Actually she says: Had I not become a singer, then probably I would have ended up either a nun or a whore…

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