Guitar-playing troubadour Francis Cabrel is widely adored in France. Photo credit © CLAUDE GASSIAN

We explore the career of the Agen-born singer-songwriter Francis Cabrel, a guitar-playing troubadour whose sensitive lyrics and catchy melodies make him utterly beloved in France.

His popularity is such that one of his albums – 1994’s Samedi soir sur la terre – ranks as the third best-selling long player in French history. It shifted a whopping 3,385,000 copies, with only Celine Dion and Michael Jackson above him in the all-time list. The album contains perhaps his most celebrated song, the plaintive, beautiful mega-hit single Je t’aimais, je t’aime, je t’aimerai. Find it online and you will probably recognise it, even if you did not know it was Cabrel singing.

Cabrel’s first record came out back in 1974 and his run of success over the decades is quite extraordinary – he had million-selling albums in 1980, 1987, 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2008.

2020’s lockdown spurred the 67-year-old Cabrel into releasing regular home videos of himself playing some of the songs that he normally does not play live, and then at the end of the year he released his 14th studio album, the typically folksy À l’aube revenant that, lyrically, addresses a wide range of themes. Onwards, onwards, Francis…

If you like this, you might like…

BOB DYLAN: Cabrel was heavily influenced by the singing poet Dylan early on. Highway 61 Revisited. Columbia Records

JEAN-JACQUES GOLDMAN: Songwriting legend, friend and collaborator of Cabrel. Best of. Amazon Music

KENDJI GIRAC: Cabrel sometimes sang in Occitan, inspiring Girac, another Occitan singer. Kendji. Mercury Records

Read more articles in the On Écoute series:
Yael Naïm
Alain Souchon
Charles Aznavour
French Kiwi Juice
Erik Satie
L’Indécis
Justice
Stuck in the Sound
Oliva Ruiz
Indochine

From France Today Magazine

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