A sad day not only for France. Georges Moustaki, the great French singer and composer, died today at the age of 79. A man known and hailed all over the world, unforgotten in his remarkable way to sing us ballads of romance and love, of happiness and sorrow.
I don‘t know if the youth of today have a connection to Georges Moustaki. But I know that we, who grew up in the previous century, could not possibly envisage our growing up ‚sans Moustaki' – without him. He was at our side in puberty, during our first love, our rebellion against our parents and the adult world, our coming to terms with the difficulties the world had in store. His records – vinyl at the time, believe it or not – passed from one to the other, were treated like treasures and regarded as solace in a world that did not understand us. Moustaki did. And he sang of it. We were inseparable friends.
It was his quiet way, his almost shy way to sing of solitude and longing for peace that captured us at a time when we listened to Uriah Heep and The Stones, The Beatles or Deep Purple, where noise factor only to our parents was a reason to be put off. Along came Georges Moustaki, the stark contrast, fascinating us with his words and his music and his mystical aura, a troubadour, a mind changer, a captor of our hearts. It didn't matter that our parents sighed in relief at the reduced 'noise'. Moustaki sang of love as we understood it, free, unrestricted love of hearts and body. A good enough reason to put them off again. He was ours, not theirs. And we would never have traded him in.
Many years after my teenage time I met Georges Moustaki at an open air concert in Germany. We spend many hours backstage, I watched him pass the time playing table tennis with colleagues or chat amiable with artists and us journalists alike. It was a quiet afternoon with this humble, soft spoken man where you could easily forget that just outside over 10,000 waited to hear him sing. He never showed any signs of arrogance or celebrity attitudes, was as human as you could have imagined. His way to sing was his way to be. A man not to fuss about, but a man you put deep into your heart to keep him there forever.
Now the news comes today that Georges Moustaki has left us for good. The heart pains. But he will never be forgotten to those whose lives he touched with his singing. I think of that wonderful afternoon back then and will forever be grateful to him for having been at my side in the difficult times of growing up, of finding love, of fighting against wars and adults and a reality that denies the logic of romance.
Of all the songs he gave us, his 'Déclaration' is the most precious to me.
Yes, Georges – we declare the state of happiness to be permanent – for anything else would not be a world we agree with. Not you. Not us.
May you rest in peace. Up there somewhere. But most definitely forever in our hearts.
Je déclare l' état de bonheur permanent
Et le droit de chacun à tous les privilèges.
Je dis que la souffrance est chose sacrilège
Quand il y a pour tous des roses et du pain blanc.
Je conteste la légitimité des guerres,
La justice qui tue et la mort qui punit,
Les consciences qui dorment au fond de leur lit,
La civilisation au bras des mercenaires.
Je regarde mourir ce siècle vieillissant.
Un monde différent renaîtra de ses cendres
Mais il ne suffit plus simplement de l' attendre:
Je l' ai trop attendu. Je le veux à présent.
Que ma femme soit belle à chaque heure du jour
Sans avoir à se dissimuler sous le fard
Et qu' il ne soit plus dit de remettre à plus tard
L' envie que j' ai d' elle et de lui faire l' amour.
Que nos fils soient des hommes, non pas des adultes
Et qu' ils soient ce que nous voulions être jadis.
Que nous soyons frères camarades et complices
Au lieu d' être deux générations qui s' insultent.
Que nos pères puissent enfin s' émanciper
Et qu' ils prennent le temps de caresser leur femme
Après toute une vie de sueur et de larmes
Et des entre-deux-guerres qui n' étaient pas la paix.
Je déclare l' état de bonheur permanent
Sans que ce soit des mots avec de la musique,
Sans attendre que viennent les temps messianiques,
Sans que ce soit voté dans aucun parlement.
Je dis que, désormais, nous serons responsables.
Nous ne rendrons de compte à personne et à rien
Et nous transformerons le hasard en destin,
Seuls à bord et sans maître et sans dieu et sans diable.
Et si tu veux venir, passe la passerelle.
Il y a de la place pour tous et pour chacun
Mais il nous reste à faire encore du chemin
Pour aller voir briller une étoile nouvelle.
Je déclare l' état de bonheur permanent.
Georges Moustaki dies at 79