Thursday, May 23, 2013

Moustaki lives!

Avec ma gueule de métèque
De Juif errant, de pâtre grec
De voleur et de vagabond

Pop singer Georges Moustaki appeared a gentle soul despite the unruly hair and beard. It was in his eyes, wide and expressive, that you recognized the encompassing empathy of the immigrant.

I was introduced to his haunting anthems as a young man living in France in the 1970s. Moustaki was one of many singers we adored, whose music we yearned for. Unlike most other popular singers of the time, Moustaki came from a culture foreign to France. Yet he had learned the tongue and the culture and become a creative force in his adopted land. I admired Moustaki for the way his own path celebrated individuality. He was a living muse.

Moustaki was exceptional in another way. The hairy performer with the coaxing, guttural voice was universally adored by all the girls I knew. Perhaps Moustaki’s charm resided in the elusive character of his persona: French but not French, an indigenous outsider of sorts. Dressed invariably in white, he seemed to embody a Christ-like love. He sang of liberty and acceptance. His message was tolerance and he expressed an irreverent embrace of the rhythms of life.

Recalling his music, his songs on this, the day Georges Moustaki died, I am glad for having been touched by the poignant spell of their valiant idealism.

Et nous ferons de chaque jour
Toute une éternité d'amour
Que nous vivrons à en mourir

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