Last Saturday, my wife and I went to a concert of French chansons in Karmiel arranged by the local French society. The singer, Brigitte Haviv, accompanied skillfully by an accordion, guitar and bass, sang songs from the Golden era of French songs, including golden oldies (as they say) by Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf, Charles Asnavour and Yves Montand. The small auditorium was packed. My wife and I, in our fifties, lowered the average age of the audience. However, what was lacking in youth was more than made up for in enthusiasm. People even dressed up elegantly, a rare sight in this part of the woods. The concert, more than an hour and a half, was a great success both for the singer and the audience. A good time was had by all.
That said, I had a very sad thought. If a non-French outside of France were asked to name a current French singer, band, or even song, I strongly doubt that even the most cosmopolitan would succeed. I am not saying that current French music is poor. Since it is not exported, it simply doesn't exist outside France. It may be due to the policy of foreign radio stations to play music in English and local languages but no more. It may be because that the French music has lost its identity. It even may be a result of the poor quality of music in France today. I cannot say. What I do fear is that in some 40 years nobody is going to gather in an auditorium in a provincial town far way and listen nostalgically to the great French songs of the early 21st century. As a proud half-Frenchman, that makes me sad. I suppose the best thing I could do is to listen to some more Brel or Piaf. It would make me feel better but not change the reality. Isn't that the definition of nostalgia?