At the end of the day you’re another day tireder,
And the Redbull can no longer keep you awake,
And the geniuses hurry past,
They don’t hear your brain slowly dying,
And exams are coming on fast, ready to kill,
One day nearer to a lie in.
At first it is strange. I am used to keeping him from her, to hoarding him for myself. But the memories well up like springwater, faster than I can hold them back. They do not come as words, but like dreams, rising as scent from the rain-wet earth. This, I say. This and this. The way his hair looked in summer sun. His face when he ran. His eyes, solemn as an owl at lessons. This and this and this. So many moments of happiness, crowding forward.
Please forgive any historical inaccuracies it’s 7am and I haven’t slept and also I had to look up what a lyre was when I started reading this gutpunch of a book last night.
Quando un giorno guarderai le tue ferite capirai che non è stato un errore fidarti
di chi ti teneva per mano
e capirai che qualcosa è cambiato ,
non darai più colpe al mondo e ridarai
un senso nuovo al tuo volto…
On the 14th of July 1789, in the midst of the French Revolution (also
refered to by the same name in French, even though we had quite a few
of those), rioters attacked the Bastille prison and freed the (7)
prisoners that were inside. That prison was a relique of the Ancient
Regime, that ended officially thee years later with the 1st Republic
(September 21th 1792).
Basically, the French Revolution was a very
complex period, in which many many things happened, not that historians
really agree on what happened exactly (each carrying their own political views and agenda, including me).
In France, this period marks the
beginning of the contemporary period (after antiquity, middle-age &
modern times) in history, it was a rich period in terms of political,
economical, cultural, scientific, social progress.
What we call
“La prise de la Bastille” (the Storming of the Bastille) became a
symbol, but the event in itself isn’t the most significant, by far.
For example, women
walked on Versailles demanding bread, but really, riots broke out everywhere, we had
lots of beheading (including Louis the 16th’s who was the king back then), let’s not forget the Reign of Terror, that was fun.
The most significant event in my opinion was probably the Abolition of the Privileges
(August 4th 1789).
A year after the Storming of the Bastille, on July 14th 1790, there was a celebration, called la Fête de la Fédération, meant to emphasize the importance of citizenship, of civil value, now that royalty & religion were no longer there for the people to put their faith and trust in (more or less).
In 1880, the 14th of July was officially adopted as the annual national holiday, meant as a military event. To this day, people still argue over which day our National Holiday is supposed to be referring to.
Bottom line, it’s supposed to be a symbol of citizenship & freedom and a reminder of the past. Our 19th century was full of revolutions and we had many uprisings before that (les Révoltes paysannes AKA Jacqueries).
One of those revolutions was used to plant the scene to Victor Hugo’s Misérables (June 1832).
To this day, we are known as the country of strikes, social rights (& laziness apparently?) and our history is filled with riots, uprising, demonstrations, protests, strikes.
This history is kept alive, partly with songs, only one of which can be found in Les Misérables… and was cut in the movie. It’s called la Faute à Voltaire, sung by Gavroche.
Here is a list of proeminent revolutionnary songs, with links to good audio versions with lyrics on youtube:
La carmagnole (1792) : The part everyone knows is about Marie-Antoinette: “Madam’ Veto (Marie-Antoinette) promessed to slaughter all Paris, but she missed her shot, thanks to our gunners. Let’s dance the carmagnole, hail the sound of gun barrel”.
Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira (1790) : A very famous song sung during the revolution, the lyrics literally say “We will hang the aristocrats”.
Le chant des cerises (1867) : A beautiful song strongly associated with the Paris Commune (1871). It’s still sung by new artists or during demos to this day.
La semaine sanglante (1871) : At the end of the Paris Commune, over 30 000 people were slaughtered in a week (the story goes they killed everyone they came across in the street that had gunpower on them, so basically everyone), over a thousand people were sent to trial, many of which ended up in forced labor in Cayenne often to die there. The song has seven verse, one for each day of the week of the massacre, describing life after the Commune. Still sung in the face of police violence during protests.
La chanson du Père Duschène (1892) : An anti-clerical anarchist song, sung by Ravachol as he went to his execution. The song advises “if you want to be happy, in the name of god, hang your landlord”.
Les enfants de Cayenne (1900-ish) : The most emblamatic song against the police & prison. It was dug up by punks musicians about 30 years ago, so I don’t have a nice version to share. The lyrics go “Death to prison guards, death to cops”. But not as nicely.
La chanson de Craonne (1917) : A beautiful song sung by the mutineers of le Chemin des Dames during WWI, they were sent to slaughter, at some point they refused to go on. It’s heart-breaking, the lyrics go : “Good-bye life, good-bye love, good-bye to all women, it’s over, over forever, this atrocious war”.
La Butte Rouge (1925) : Another song against war (in general, but it highly refers to WWI). It’s about a place (a hill) where soldiers where killed, but time passed, people forgot what happened there and moved on, while the singer will never forget.
Le Chant des partisans (1941) : The hymn of the French Resistance during WWII, literally the rallying song. Everyone knows it, it’s sung at memorials every year, also sometimes during demonstrations, kids learn it at school : “We are the one who break the bars of our brother’s prisons”.
Le Chant des Marais (1933) : Originally sung in German, wrote & sung by prisoners in concentration camps. It’s also one of the most well-known songs about WWII, sung at every memorials, many learn it at school. It’s sad and beautiful. There is also an English version, though the lyrics aren’t exactly the same (x).
I might do a follow-up with more songs, either old or more recent, if anyone is interested.
*rules: you can tell a lot about a person by what’s in their playlist.
put your music on shuffle and write down the first ten songs. tag ten
12 - the 1975 one day more - les misérables - london cast therapy - all time low taxi cab - twenty one pilots cloud - sia unsere fans (our fans) - kraftklub ode to sleep - twenty one pilots time to dance - panic! at the disco burn the pages - sia mein herz brennt (my heart burns) - stonedeafproduction
“The enthusiasm animating Republican people at the moment of their [military and civil] success inspired her poets and musicians. Compositions of an absolutely new character were heard, among which [Mehul’s] Le chant du depart was chosen by the French soldier and consecrated by his valor….Such was our national music, energetic and unimpaired…” ~F.J. Gossec~