30 Sad Songs no 21. La Mamma – Charles Aznavour

p009mys9_640_360Time for some more French stuff. Charles Aznavour is one of my all-time favourite artists – songwriter, singer, performer, he’s got the lot, and if you only know him for that tired old warhorse She, you’re missing out. Among the thousands of songs he’s written (with scarcely a duff one among them) are some of the most tragic numbers I can think of. I nearly chose Ne t’en fais pas, in which the singer tells his ex not to worry about him, he’s doing just fine thank you very much. But we’ve got enough spurned lover songs already, so I’m choosing La Mamma instead. It addresses the death of a mother, the family rallying round, children playing quietly, prayers being said. I can’t think of many successful popular songs about bereavement, but then Aznavour was never afraid of unorthodox subjects. It’s a beautiful mix of complex melody over a simple guitar pattern, with Aznavour’s voice wringing every drop of emotion out of the lyrics.

 

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