“I am not nostalgic, I am lucid”
“I am not nostalgic, I am lucid”
After four years of silence, Gérard Manset, the most secretive of singers, returns with “Le crabe aux pinces d’homme”, a new chapter in an impressive career.
He had committed two masterpieces in quick succession, “Operation Aphrodite” in 2016 then “Aboard the Blossom”, two years later, two musical, recitative and poetic frescoes which allowed Gérard Manset to satisfy musical fantasies and writing passions. Only here: his loyal audience did not respond. Manset could have conceived bitterness.
“Oh no! he says, seated in one of those anonymous cafés in the 16th arrondissement that he loves. “I understood that the people who follow me were confused. Me who thought I had reached rigorous penitent heights with “Blossom”. But people don’t want either a saga or a story…” So here is “The crab with the claws of man”, the 22nd part of a work started in 1968 with “Animal on est mal” and which has not stopped shaking the world since. “too smooth” of the song.
At 77, Gérard still has a keen eye and a mischievous smile when asked about his relationship with Hergé. “’Tintin’, yes, at the limit, I liked it. But my thing was Scrooge, that old uncle surrounded by gold coins. Then the sky fell on my head when I discovered the vulgarity and imbecility of the seller of menhirs in blue and white. Fortunately I was no longer in the game, Balzac and Stendhal had been there…”
Barely launched, already in good shape. Look no further for a link between the work of Hergé and that of Manset. “This title occurred to me and I went for it. It’s as simple as that. »
What counts is the song of universal poetry. The variety has become uninteresting
As far back as he can remember, Gérard has never functioned otherwise: in fits and starts, able to darken ten pages in half an hour, to put them in a drawer for fifteen years, the better to bring them out. On this new disc, some songs were started twenty years ago, others were born after the health crisis. Such as “L’espoir”, a formidable fable invented around a country and summer party shattered by a bomb. Manset poses as a spectator of the affair, like the man withdrawn from the world that he has always been, slipping in here and there a few truths about himself or about the human condition. “There is a whole poetic beginning to which I was attached. And then this bomb came. A bit like those that fall on the world around us, like those that fell in 1940. And the narrator is me as a child who, as I walk forward, sees the world crumble. »
If Manset has fascinated for more than fifty years, it is for his ability to never be in the frame while offering a poetic work, far from the shackles of song or rock. It will therefore be in this 2022 vintage “Marilou-Marilou”, thirteen minutes of galactic travel, a road trip around a beloved woman, of lost illusions. “For me, says Gérard, music is just an underlay. What counts is the song of universal poetry. Our time proves it to us, the variety has become uninteresting, whereas we had a real popular music, that of the ball musette, the small white wine and the accordion. Today, everything that is done is much more tendentious. »
Manset is not tender with his contemporaries. “We are entitled to Biolay, I quote him without irony and without contempt, to Vianney, to Bénabar… Even Souchon, whom I adore, is from a bygone century, that of poetry and kindness. You have to be Anglo-Saxon to make music. Point bar. I even said to myself that I should make my next albums in English. There’s no point in writing in French anymore. Or else to leave a small trace like an insect in the bark of time…”
It is objected to him that he has already passed this stage, he who gathered a large audience in 1975 with “He travels alone”. “The solitary remains between four walls of France, he believes. We can be a little more ambitious than that, even if I don’t deny anything, and I won’t change a word of this song. But for a musician, it’s tragic not to be born Anglo-Saxon… So I’ve always preferred to stay away from all that. Worse, hearing things like “Instant Karma!” of Lennon, I could have stopped the music. Because I knew we would never get to this level. Fortunately, I have this miraculous chance to be driven myself by another individual, a real “me” who overhangs me. So I can go anywhere blind with that.”
Even when someone wants to be nice to me, even complimentary, it still bothers me
The man who will soon no longer be able to read “Tintin” prefers to summon McCartney to discuss the last part of his life. “He had called an album ‘Back to the Egg’. Well that’s precisely what I feel with the passing years: I return to the egg. But I’m very calm with it all. I am very in order with everything. And then the trips disappeared from my life, the girls too, the job too. So yes, it was a thousand times better before, but that’s not why I’m nostalgic. I am lucid. »
He who sang “Tomorrow it will be dark” in the early 2000s does not want to completely darken the picture. Because it is in youth that Gérard, several times grandfather, admirer of Greta Thunberg, sees a possible renewal. “But not right now. Not before 2030, when a generation of brand new little Jesuses will be born. I hope that these children will see the world with clear eyes, that their brains will no longer have the ability to hear the nonsense that we hear today. And that our generations must swallow.
Suddenly Gerard stops talking. Net. “Are you recording what I’m saying here? Because it must not go all over the place. We reassure him. By being surprised by his recent declarations on his “fatigue” linked to Manset. “It’s the Manset they serve me that tires me. Luckily I live far away. I would have a pseudonym, it might be different. When I traveled, I was anonymous and they took me as I was. But even when people want to be nice to me, even complimentary, it still bothers me. The one who, when the album comes out, shows his work, is proud of it, rejoices to talk about it. But does not want to be in the box of pop music. Because it’s demeaning. I would prefer to be seen as a neutral element.”