Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

POP MUSIC REVIEW

The many shades of the word called love

September 25, 2006|Daryl H. Miller | Times Staff Writer

"Most of my songs," Charles Aznavour told the crowd at Gibson Amphitheatre on Saturday night, "talk about a man in love." Like so much of what the 82-year-old French singer-songwriter conveyed to his rapt audience, the statement was deliciously understated. The concertgoers who packed the first of two nights at the amphitheater already knew what to expect, having given him a giant group hug of a standing ovation when he stepped onstage. Besides, the topic was quite evident in the way he poured so many shadings of meaning into each utterance of the word "amour," or as he seemed to caress a woman's name while speaking it over and over in the course of a lyric.

Aznavour, mentored by Edith Piaf, emerged in the postwar 20th century as one of the foremost practitioners of French song. His sound is tightly focused, with a fast vibrato. His husky tenor has a bit of rasp to it, a liability he turns to an advantage by using it to suggest the life experience behind his words.

Those words speak, typically, of ordinary people in everyday moments: the quiet rapture of dancing with the one you adore, the pleasurable frustration of trying to find the words to fill a love letter or the choked sadness of an anniversary evening that, in almost every particular, goes wrong.

Aznavour performed roughly half of the time in French, the rest in English (and once in Spanish). Among two dozen numbers, he gave key placement to his best-known songs, "Yesterday, When I Was Young" and "She." Social statement also was given a prominent place. One song, about a kidnapped journalist, was dedicated to slain reporter Daniel Pearl. Another, from Aznavour's groundbreaking, taboo-busting past, imagines the loneliness of a gay man who survives daily taunts with the still, certain conviction that "I know my love is not a crime, / I'm just a victim of my time." Time and again, Aznavour proved himself a master philosopher, finding the happy in the sad, the sad in the happy. He sang with exuberance and melancholy but, most of all, resilience.

daryl.miller@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|