The Voice of the People

  • Peter Grant
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Subcultures and Popular Music book series (PSHSPM)


Mainly an analysis of songs produced in France and then Britain and the USA in the genres of chanson and folk respectively. The centrality of chanson in French culture is introduced before going on to consider the work of three iconic chansonnieres: Jacques Brel, Léo Ferré and Georges Brassens. Brassens’ ‘La Guerre de 14–18’ and his utilisation of ironic humour is compared with its English translation by Michael Flanders and his style and approach with that of Italian Fabrizio De André. The songs of other key French chansonnieres are discussed, including Barbara, Juliette, Dominique Grange and Charles Aznavour (the last in relation to the Armenian genocide). More recent French artists are covered, notably for their use of key French myths (especially the Battle of Verdun) and transnational themes. They include Moussu T et lei Jovents, Jean-Jaques Goldman and Manau.

The chapter then considers Anglo-Saxon folk artists, most notably Bob Dylan, Eric Bogle, Shirley Collins, June Tabor, Mike Harding and Al Stewart.


Prussian Blue Popular Music Folk Song Popular Song Folk Music 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. ABC News. (2005, October 20). Young singers spread racist hate, ABC News. Accessed 11 Nov 2012.
  2. Allard, G. (2013, April 20). Al Stewart discusses Time Passages, Tune Groover. Accessed 9 Aug 2015.
  3. APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association). (2001, May 2). Media release ‘The songs that resonate through the years’. Accessed 11 Nov 2012.
  4. Bogle, E. (2009a). Comments on the DVD Live at Stonyfell Winery. Adelaide/Cockenzie, East Lothian: Greentrax.Google Scholar
  5. Bogle, E. (2009b). Comments at concert in Weymouth, September. Accessed Nov 2012.
  6. Bogle, E. (2014, November 12). Eric Bogle: I don’t like Joss Stone’s cover of “No Man’s Land”, but I won’t sue, The Guardian. Accessed 7 Aug 2015.
  7. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education. New York: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  8. Casimir, J. (2002, April 19). Secret life of Matilda, Sydney Morning Herald. Accessed 11 Nov 2012.
  9. Cohen, D. (2001). The War Come Home: Disabled veterans in Britain and Germany, 1914–1939. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  10. Cordier, A. (2009). Chanson as oral poetry? Paul Zumthor and the analysis of performance. French Cultural Studies, 20(4), 403–418.Google Scholar
  11. Cordier, A. (2014). Post-War French popular music: Cultural identity and the Brel-Brassens- Ferré Myth. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  12. Dadrian, V. N. (2003). The history of the Armenian genocide: Ethnic conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. Oxford/New York: Berghahn.Google Scholar
  13. Davisson, J. (2010). Extreme politics and extreme metal: Strange bedfellows or fellow travellers? In N. W. R. Scott & I. von Helden (Eds.), The metal void: First gatherings (pp. 175–210). Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press.Google Scholar
  14. Del Col, L. (2002). Testimony gathered by Ashley’s mines commission. Accessed 9 Aug 2015.
  15. Denselow, R. (2009, September 11). The Unthanks: Here’s the Tender Coming. The Guardian. Accessed 9 Aug 2015.
  16. Denselow, R. (2010, September 16). Moussu T et lei Jovents: Putan de Cançon, The Guardian. Accessed 14 Mar 2013.
  17. Dickson, A. (2014, July 23). Alastair Campbell: Why I Love Jacques Brel, Interview in The Guardian. Accessed 6 Aug 2015.
  18. Evans, S. (2013, January 22). Goettingen: The song that made history, BBC News Magazine. Accessed 28 Jan 2013.
  19. Forsythe, D. P. (2009). Encyclopedia of human rights: Volume 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Frith, S. (1996). Performing rights: On the value of popular music. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Gaunt, D. (2006). Massacres, resistance, protectors: Muslim-Christian relations in Eastern Anatolia during World War I. Piscataway: Gorgias Press.Google Scholar
  22. Gell, A. (2011, July 17). Change of heart: Former Nazi teeny boppers are singing a new tune, The Daily., Accessed 11 Nov 2012.
  23. Grant, P. (2014). Philanthropy and voluntary action in the First World War: Mobilizing charity. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. h2g2. (2003). Michael Flanders and Donald Swann. Accessed 10 Aug 2015.
  25. Harding, M. (n.d.). Comments on Bombers Moon. Accessed 13 Nov 2012.
  26. Hawkins, P. (2000). Chanson: The French singer-Songwriter from Aristide Bruant to the present day. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  27. Haworth, R. (2015). From the Chanson Française to the Canzone d’Autore in the 1960s and 1970s. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  28. Horne, A. (1993). The price of glory: Verdun 1916. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  29. Keane, D. (2015, April 22). Eric Bogle: Australia’s anti-war balladeer reflects on his Anzac anthem and his upcoming trip to Gallipoli. ABC News. Accessed 7 Aug 2015.
  30. Kington, T. (2009, January 18). Italians hail poet-singer’s rebel legacy. The Observer. Accessed 20 Dec 2012.
  31. Lebrecht, N. (2011). La belle Dame sans Publicité, Standpoint, December. Accessed 28 Janu 2013
  32. Lebrun, B. (2009). Protest music in France: Production, identity and audiences. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  33. Looseley, D. L. (2003a). Popular music in contemporary France: Authenticity, politics, debate. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  34. Looseley, D. (2003b). In from the Margins: Chanson, pop and cultural legitimacy. In H. Dauncey & S. Cannon (Eds.), Popular music in France from Chanson to Techno (pp. 22–39). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  35. Love, N. S. (2012). Privileged intersections: The race, class and gender politics of Prussian Blue. Music and Politics, 6(1), 1–21.Google Scholar
  36. Lynskey, D. (2012). 33 revolutions per minute: A history of protest songs. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  37. medianet. (2015, April 25). Eric Bogle moves hundreds of Aussies at alternative Gallipoli Dawn ceremony. Accessed 11 Aug 2015.
  38. Moore, A. (2001). Rock: The primary text: developing a musicology of rock. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  39. Mukerji, C., & Schudson, M. (1991). Introduction. In C. Mukerji & M. Schudson (Eds.), Rethinking popular culture: Contemporary perspectives in cultural studies (pp. 1–62). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  40. Passerini, L. (2015). Continuity and innovation in the art of memory. In S. Kattago (Ed.), The Ashgate research companion to memory studies (pp. 75–98). Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  41. Poole, S. (2004). Brel and Chanson: A critical appreciation. Dallas: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  42. Portis, L. (2004). French Frenzies: A social history of popular music in France. College Station: Virtualbookworm.Google Scholar
  43. Rolston, B. (2001). “This is not a Rebel Song”: The Irish conflict and popular music. Race and Class, 42(3), 49–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schaller, D. J., & Zimmerer, J. (2008). Late Ottoman genocides: The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and Young Turkish population and extermination policies – Introduction. Journal of Genocide Research, 10(1), 7–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shadbolt, M. (1988). Voices of Gallipoli. Auckland: Hodder and Stoughton.Google Scholar
  46. Stephenson, N. (2014, August 11). History man Al Stewart digs deep for musical “time passages”. Accessed 9 Aug 2015.
  47. Stewart, A. (2015). Interview with the author recorded on 29 September.Google Scholar
  48. Street, J. (2012). Music and politics. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  49. Sweeney, R. M. (2001). Singing our way to victory: French cultural politics and music during the Great War. Middletown: Weslyan University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Sweers, B. (2005). Electric folk: The changing face of English traditional music. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tagg, P. (1982). Analysing popular music: Theory, method, and practice. Popular Music, 2, 37–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Tinker, C. (2002a). Anti-nationalism in postwar french Chanson. National Identities, 4(2), 133–143.Google Scholar
  53. Tinker, C. (2002b). A singer-songwriter’s view of the French record industry: The case of Leo Ferré. Popular Music, 21(2), 147–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tinker, C. (2003). Chanson Engagée and political activism in the 1950s and 1960s: Léo Ferré and Georges Brassens. In H. Dauncy & S. Cannon (Eds.), Popular music in France from Chanson to Techno (pp. 139–152). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  55. Tinker, C. (2005). Georges Brassens and Jacques Brel: Personal and social narratives in the post-war Chanson. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Tregear, P. (2012). For alle Menschen? In J. Ritter & J. M. Daughtry (Eds.), Music in the Post-9/11 world (pp. 155–176). New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Wikipedia. (2015). No man’s land (Eric Bogle song).'s_Land_(Eric_Bogle_song). Accessed 7 August 2015..
  58. Winter, J. (1977). Britain’s “lost generation” of the First World War. Population Studies, 31(3), 449–466.Google Scholar
  59. Xang. (2007). sleeve notes to ‘Verdun’, The Last of the Lasts. Grenchen: Galileo Records.Google Scholar
  60. Young, R. (2010). Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s visionary music. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Grant
    • 1
  1. 1.Cass Business SchoolCity University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations