The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (18): Haunted by Nantes

I opened my recent talk at Jewish Book Week with this clip of Barbara. Half a minute into the song I wondered, how do I follow that?

The song is about a woman going to a distant town where someone is dying. It turns out to be her father.

The father who assaulted her.

One of the greatest songs ever written.

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  • Fantastic. Even more touching when you know that her father abused her in her youth (l’aigle noir) and this is about her never been able to tell she had forgiven him.

    • I don’t know her life story any more than what’s written here. Does anyone know if she did in fact forgive him? I hear in the song that she was trying to get there before he died and was devastated when she didn’t make it in time, but…

  • Until I heard Norman’s talk I had not heard this song and had barely heard of Barbara. Since then I have listened to it every few days. It surely is one of the greatest songs of a type that the French do brilliantly and Anglophone not at all. And sorry to be a philistine but so much more appealing than French art song like Duparc.

  • for me, what prevents this from being a great song is that one must bring knowledge of the singer’s biography [the assault] to the song. else it’s meaning is lost.

    • I take your comment lra but the song became a hit long before the story surrounding it came out in her posthumous memoirs. The simple revelation that it’s her father whose last moments she has missed are surely enough to make this one of the most devastating songs in any language.

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