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Music, songs, and protest, France

Yves Laberge

Subject History » Cultural History
Applied Psychology » Political Psychology

Place Western Europe » France

Period 2000 - present
1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics movements, music, revolution, social issues

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01063.x


Because of a long tradition, French music remains exceptionally rich and diversified. Until recently, popular refrains from the era of the French Revolution, like the joyful song “Ah! Ça ira, ça ira, ça ira” (“It'll be okay, be okay, be okay”), containing the lyrics “The aristocrats, we'll hang them!,” were taught in French schools and sometimes adapted to new situations and contemporary conflicts. Even the French national anthem La Marseillaise , which means “The Woman from Marseilles,” refers to the elimination of tyrants by the people, united against a common enemy: the foreign oppressor. It was first composed in 1792 in Strasbourg as a war song against the Austrian army by an officer from Alsace, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle (1760–1836). It became the official French national anthem on July 14, 1795, but was banned a few years later, until being rehabilitated in 1830. Nowadays La Marseillaise is famous: even the Beatles quoted its opening in the famous introduction to their song “All You Need Is Love” in 1967. Themes of protest and revolution have frequently been present in various French songs, and French culture has remained open to all kinds of musical influences. Jazz and blues artists have always had a privileged reception in Europe. For instance, African American artists like Louis Armstrong and Miles Davies suffered discrimination in their own country, having to live ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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