The French 800m specialist (2017 world champion), who has started his preparation for the 2024 Olympic Games, is passionate about the singer and his lyrics. He explains what connects them, during an offbeat and humorous visit to Sète, from April 22 to 24.
When did your passion for Georges Brassens begin?
In fact, when I had an epiphany a few years ago, I realized that I had known forever.
A revelation !?
Yes, a real revelation! We were with friends, we started to listen to a bit of the whole repertoire and we put on “La ronde des jurons”. It was on this one that there was love at first sight. I remembered my father singing that every time I came home when I was little. He was putting the music on. It came back instantly!
Before, it was the trip on the bus in CM1-CM2… Bad memory! “The public benches”, the somewhat monotonous song associated with the smell of the bus. Nothing to do with what I live today when I listen to Brassens, which for me is very melodious!
Contrary to what one could say about his melodies which would be less elaborate than his texts, I who love music a lot, I see the opposite. I play it on the guitar from time to time, it’s not that simple.
When you find Brassens, what do you do?
When I had this famous revelation in 2016, three months later, I knew almost everything by heart, it was hellish! It slowed down a bit over time. It comes back, it goes away. I started music again when I was 20. I was looking for myself and then when Georges Brassens arrived, I said to myself: that’s it! The famous pump. I like that rhythm. It’s relatively easy in terms of rhythm and super fun. We learn the texts, we analyze them at the same time.
Do you listen to him in practice?
No not necessarily. I listen to it in any context, before going to sleep. It’s not related to sports. When I do sports, it’s other types of music, which “boost” a bit. Rock, electro.
I have music, in fact, which brings me back to temporalities. “Pénélope”, for example, reminds me of an internship in South Africa.
Have you also sought to discover the Brassens man?
Sure ! It interested me to know how he was in life, what he had lived, why he became what he became, why he sang that, why he was an anarchist… He didn’t have a thousand neither are themes. Love, human stupidity, from time to time politics, religion. And then he made up with all that. I take back his words.
During the Centenary, what did you choose to attend?
We came quite spontaneously. We were in Marseilles. Instead of going home, we came here. We wandered off. We went to the cemetery, we sang “La supplique”. We had to. We were behind in everything. We went to the lightship, we passed in front of the Paul-Valéry high school, we saw the Corniche beach. We saw the stele too… Besides, what happened with this stele….? They did not respect it.
We had missed the Brassens space. So this time, we are doing the visit, which is going to be extraordinary, I think! With Jeanne Corporon (deputy mayor and daughter of one of Brassens’ best friends, whom she knew, editor’s note), who has things to tell us!
A must-have song?
The one that moves me the most is “La supplication”. We like “The Trumpets of Fame”. When you discover this kind of lyrics, you go into the cosmos. Musically, I like “Le Cocu”, “Pénélope” too.
An intimate visit full of small signs…
Coming to Sète with his close team, Pierre-Ambroise saw the symbols multiply. Housed in rue Georges-Brassens (he takes out the key from the room to prove it…), he also visited the Espace Brassens (his guitar in hand) on Saturday April 23, Saint George’s Day. The one who launches: “Did I tell you that we are organizing a music festival around Brassens, with friends, in Paris?”, also left with a small gift: the collector magazine Midi Libre devoted to George Brassens. Good reading !
Today, is there an equivalent in Brassens?
Nope ! We’re going to have a hard time finding…
Do you know that Brassens, too, was an athlete?
Oh good ? (smiles) With women? He was swimming? Bodybuilding… Is it the images where he lifts canisters? (He laughs) I think that was not his strong point!