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five songs to (re)discover this eternally misunderstood

On August 2, 1992, Michel Berger died of a heart attack. If his songs have stood the test of time, they remain underestimated compared to other repertoires from the same period. And yet…

“To Understand Me” (1973)

“To understand me, you would have to love him more than me, and I would tell you that I really don’t believe it. » In 1973, Michel Berger spoke solo again (he had written a few inconsequential youthful twists) to mourn the abrupt departure of Véronique Sanson, who left without warning to join her American crush, Stephen Stills, of Crosby, Stills & Nash. The album is called Broken Heart, and everything that will make his future successes is in this title, To understand me : a heartbreaking and rhythmic piano chord, a sentimental melody, and “sad and tender eyes” to sing it. A misfortune never arriving alone, the album was a failure.


“When We Dance (What Are You Thinking About)” (1974)

Paradoxical career than that of this maker of hits for Françoise Hardy, France Gall, Johnny Hallyday, or with rock opera starmania, but which took some time to find success itself. An anthology published last year (eleven albums from 1973 to 1992 and two 2 CDs of rarities and film soundtracks) put the performer back at the center of attention and made us rediscover some pearls from before The Pianist’s Groupie. When we dance (What are you thinking), for example (on the album song for a fan1974), quintessence of Berger’s balanced style and his lyrics as simple as possible, which some consider silly, but whose musical strength has spanned the ages and generations.


“Will you be There ?” (1975)

But it is with That love is weird (1975), his best album perhaps, that his touch and his groove will develop. We already hear the one who sings on Where are you ?, also his famous drum or piano setbacks which restore rhythm to the pieces, in the manner of Elton John, his English cousin, with whom he befriended in the 1980s. But the comparison between the two artists is always done to the detriment of the Frenchman. The album mainly features Will you be There ?, moving address to Véronique Sanson, who will respond with another song, I will be there. Lhe two artists will not stop exchanging by interposed songs, throughout their career.


“The Pianist Groupie” (1980)

With Beausejour, in 1980, Michel Berger finally met with great success, which definitively placed him as a star producer of all French variety. The Pianist’s Groupie remains his most listened to song to date. Perhaps thanks to his words, of a terribly simple sadness and which many find simplistic: She knows how to understand her music / She knows how to forget that she exists / The pianist’s groupie / But God this girl takes risks / In love with an egoist / The pianist’s groupie / She fucks up her whole life / And her whole life isn’t much / What could she have done / Apart from dreaming alone in her bed / In the evening between her pink sheets. »


“The Moment of Silence” (1983)

One year later, Beautiful shoreline looks like the dark side of Beausejour and does not enjoy the same success. Michel Berger yields to a few facilities which lead him on the path of an increasingly consensual variety, like his next album, Thugwhere the contrast between the kindness of the vocabulary and the harshness of the chosen subjects flirts with the laughable (“Tap and tap for hours your chords that release / You send your cry of rage / I like, I like your music of savages”) –, but also sometimes touches on the sublime, as in his duet with Daniel Balavoine, The Moment of Silence.


“The White Paradise” (1990)

In the 1980s, he experienced a paradoxical triumph. Michel Berger puts his talent almost entirely at the service of others. His companion, France Gall in the first place, who dominates the rankings with Resist, He was playing the piano standing up, Unplug, Of course. Johnny Hallyday too, who regains his luster thanks to the album rock’n’roll attitudewhich Michel Berger composed and produced in 1985 with the hit Something from Tennessee. His own records are paradoxically less personal, and more “societal”. He evokes racism, the right to be different, self-affirmation (There’s no shame). His couple is falling apart, but on the front remains master of the situation, until they produce a joint album, Double-dealingpublished in 1992. On August 2 of the same year, Michel Berger disappeared, leaving his admirers with a last desperate hit, white paradiseon his latest solo album, It doesn’t stand up released in 1990.

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