Georges Moustaki, the Metic

by | Aug 1, 2013

In the title track of his debut album, Georges Moustaki describes his face as that of a metic, a wandering Jew, a Greek shepherd, a thief and a vagabond. Maybe so. But his melodic strumming of the guitar and his understated voice have overflown these appearances, his overgrown beard and that stereotype. If anything, that image only promotes the depth, mystery and serenity surrounding his voice and the rhymes it creates, it has no reason to be mentioned. In fact, the unlikely association of his appearances as a troubadour outlaw and his beautiful melodies brings another level of curiosity to the listener, and explains the natural attraction from his female fan base.

There is a multi-cultural accent in his works: he is of Greek Jewish origin born and bred in Egypt with French as main language at school. His songs, sung in seven languages, carry that variety beyond the language, writing for a great variety of singers including for Edith Piaf (‘Milord’, “Les Orgues De Barbarie”, “Eden Blues” “Le Gitan Et La Fille”). He leaves a legacy of moving poetry, eloquent simplicity, hundreds of romantic songs and his deep belief in humanist values in particular human freedom.

Georges Moustaki in 10 songs:

1. Le métèque (semi-auto-biographic title track of his debut album) 2. Gaspard (Moustaki puts in music the poem “Gaspard Hauser chante” from Paul Verlaine’s collection Sagesse (1881) ) 3. Les Amis de Georges (title track of his tribute project devoted to the songs and musical admirers of Georges Brassens, his mentor of whom he adopted the first name out of sheer gratefulness) 4. Ma Solitude (one of his signature songs, re-recorded with China Forbes from Pink Martini’s on his last album) 5. Ma liberté (a classic and an hymn to the 1960s free-living spirit) 6. Sarah (a powerful song classic that describes a man undying love for his long-suffering wife) 7. Les eaux de Mars (a beautiful rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Aguas de março”) 8. Yiddish Mamas (a touching picture of Jewish mothers, sung here in Yiddish but also available in French and Hebrew) 9. Le Temps de Vivre (one of Moustaki’s classic humanistic song that was re-recorded by Henia Ziv as a soundtrack for Bernard Paul’s Le Temps de vivre in 1969) 10. Partager Les Restes (with Stacey Kent, a poignant song about separation).

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