Monday, August 22, 2011

Music in France

I just got back from 12 days in France and have some observations re: the music there.
First off, it appeared to me that their tastes are far more eclectic. The friends and acquaintances I spent time with in 5 or so cities loved everything from African music to Salsa to jazz to French pop to bad American imported dance music, etc. It just didn’t seem like the line was drawn in the sand between different genres like they do here in the U.S.. MTV over there even has an R&B show. And on that show the music is also mixed- with straight up soul, neo-soul, world music of all kinds, and sometimes it’s in French and sometimes in English and sometimes even both on the same song/video. It’s more an “if we like it we’ll play it no matter what” kind of vibe then you’d get in America. Ditto at their parties where they play everything regardless of language or genre. There just seems to be a real love and respect for music of all kinds.
I was also amazed at a 30 minute interview I saw with Herbie Hancock on prime time TV there, treating him like a revered elder. You know for a fact that if he were on a talk show here in America, they’d generally let him play one song and wouldn’t even invite him on the chair. Or he’d be the last 3 or so minute segment on a 30 minute show plugging his latest CD. Respect, what a concept.
The subways there also had music piped in. Imagine, clean, efficient subways, with nice music to listen to. On a fraction of New York’s budget. Efficiency is a beautiful thing.
And in a park in Toulousse I saw something wonderful. Over the course of a few hours, in the center of the city outdoors at the Capitol building there were 3 live bands absolutely free. One was Italian and they were multi-lingual, performing songs in Italian, French and English. It was just a beautiful vibe and they combined it with a female dancer and juggler to really put on a show. Later there was an African band. And later a more traditional French accordionist. Again, music in all languages and styles for folk who truly appreciate it.
America could learn a lot about music appreciation from our French brothers and sisters for sure.
And by the way, I found the vast majority of folk there to be warm, friendly, gracious and hospitable.  Taste in music and nice folk. What a combination.

Evan Ginzburg

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