30 Sad Songs no. 27: Göttingen – Barbara

59e8ef5c707dfa1ae88e533ab933090eThe first of the French songs, and by no means the last. Barbara (alias Monique Serf) is little known in the UK, but I think she’s one of the best of the Francophone bunch – less melodramatic than Piaf and Brel, that’s for sure, and a songwriter with very few rivals. Göttingen is a happy-sad song: it’s about reconciliation between Germany and France after the Second World War, with lyrics about children and flowers and so on. But while it’s basically optimistic (and it did much to heal wounds in the 50s, becoming one of the most famous songs of its period), it just reminds me of the horror and misery of war, especially on the home front. There are loads of other Barbara songs that could have been on this list, especially Seule, Le Soleil Noir, L’Aigle Noir and Le Bel Age, which deal with loneliness, despair, sexual abuse and having sex with 19-year-old boys respectively.

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