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 
Stuck in the Sound 
Oliva Ruiz 
From France Today Magazine