Popular French Songs

With the mobilization of the French army, men from all corners of the nation came together and interacted in a way that would not have been otherwise possible. At the time, France was still very much a patchwork of cultures consisting of diverse customs, traditions, music and dialects. The local ways were still deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of the men going off to war. The traditional musical styles found in France reflected the different histories of the people depending on geographic location. Brittany had a distinctively Celtic-sounding music. The music sung and played by Corsicans had something of an Italian flare, while that of the Basque was reminiscent of something found more in Arabia.

While the exporting of Parisian culture, encompassing tastes, fashion, music and language (French), had been ongoing for a generation, in no time before had been so embraced among the people throughout the various regions of France. Added to this was the army culture, which the men had so suddenly been immersed. It was this great meeting of men from all over the nation that led to an adoption of both Parisian culture and military culture by French soldiers. Out of their military experience came a commonly shared music, one born out of cafe-concerts and barracks halls.

The following are just a small example of the songs which were popular among the soldiers.

  • "Avec Bidasse" Audio File
  • "La Chanson de Craonne" MP3
  • "Chant du Départ" MP3
  • "Gloire au 17ème" MP3
  • "Heureux Piou-piou" MP3
  • "L'Hirondelle du Faubourg" MP3
  • "La Marseillaise" MP3
  • "Ma Mitrailleuse" Audio File
  • "Vive le Pinard" MP3 1, MP3 2, (Marching Version) MP3 3, (Period recording) Audio
    Vive le Pinard songsheet 1918 version and 1916 version
  • "Quand Madelon" Audio File
      (Marching Version) MP3
  • "Si tu veux...Marguerite" Audio File
  • "Sambre et Meuse" MP3
  • "Non, non, plus de combats" MP3 of same melody
  • "Au Bois le Prêtre" YouTube
  • "Les Godillots (sont lourds)" MP3
    Period Post Card
  • "Choisis Lison" MP3
  • "(Pour) La France en Danger" YouTube

  • For more songs from the Great War period, including lyrics and MP3s, check out the following site:

    Also, be sure to pick up the following recommended albums:

  • "La Chanson Française au Début du XXe Siècle" series (vols. 1-10)
  • "Anthologie de la chanson française (1900-1920)" series
  • "Chants de poilus et autres refrains de la Grande Guerre" (available through multiple online sites)
  • "Caf' Conç, vol. 1 (1864-1914): Chansons café-concerts dans les estaminets"
  • "1900-1913, Les chansons de ces années-là"
  • "Nos plus belles chansons, Vol. 2: 1905-1920"
  • "Les chansons patriotiques de la Grande Guerre 1914 - 1918"
  • "14-18 : Chansons de la Guerre"
  • "14-18, les Chansons d'Alors"
  • "La Grande Guerre 1914-1918" (vols. 1-2) (available through multiple online sites)

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