Deprived of tour for nearly two years, Bénabar decided “not to let go of the affair”. He released two albums in 2021, the last of which, “Happy Indocile”, includes a duet with Renaud. Before going back on stage in February.
“We won’t let go,” says Bénabar in a song that opens his new record and gives it its title. He preaches it, a little brash: when you fall, you get up; despite the setbacks, “we hold on, never beaten”. For him, “life is ice skating for the first time”. If possible with the woman of his life, children, friends and as far as possible from social networks that encourage people to “lie loudly”. Love, friendship, fraternity: a trilogy that Bénabar once again highlights, making fun of the sad sires who will reproach him for sinning by excess of naivety.
Two albums so close together: do you take yourself for Jul?
The process is not so far off. But if the rappers’ production rhythm is very adapted to the platforms, mine is due to the fact that we all got along very well during the recording of “Happy Indocile”. And that we wanted to meet again very quickly; take advantage of the enthusiasm, the breath that carried us.
“We’re not letting go,” you sing to begin your record. Are you talking about your job or beyond?
We artists are not the worst off. And I feel privileged. And yet, I tend to see the glass half empty. So I struggle, I try to be happy, bright… which is not in my character. There are so many reasons to be depressed, to mope …
Love and friendship are your favorite themes. How to approach them differently?
All the artists, I believe, do nothing but rehash the same obsessions, wearing down three or four themes to the point. The difficulty is not to repeat yourself, to try to find new angles. So as not to lock myself into something, to avoid the stupid and the cutesy, I play my songs to a few very close people. By asking them not to let anything go.
Written by Pierre-Yves Lebert, the song “Monogame” combines “adventures” and “fractures” and therefore praises long-term loyalty. True story ?
I believe in fidelity in friendship, in the couple and in artistic matters. I have never had this rather adolescent terror of everyday life, this cult of love at first sight, of the passion of the first days. Daily life is not necessarily routine, it can be a source of real poetry. Family life is certainly not a long calm river, but it inspires and touches me.
What about friendship?
I am a man with friends, I have always had a lot of them around me. 40-year-old friends, it’s very reassuring. When we see each other, it’s a cliché à la Claude Sautet: we drink red wine, we remake the world, we fry on politics.
Your album includes a duet with Renaud entitled “Chez les Corses”. How did you convince him to come out of the silence?
The story is perfectly simple and totally autobiographical: we both have a house in the Luberon and we see each other often. It’s not storytelling, an artificial thing: we go regularly to two Corsicans who run a restaurant near Gordes. What I say in the song.
What does Renaud represent to you?
It is one of the great references in French song. A true poet, with a purpose, depth. And at the same time, he’s on the radio, you can whistle his songs in the shower. He is as good when he is serious, with “Mistral winner” as when he is having fun with “Le retour de Gérard Lambert”. I like his second degree, his tenderness touches me.
The disc concludes with “A soul of a poet (continued)”. Why take up and continue such a song?
This character that I had started to interpret on stage speaks more than he sings. In a very Sacha Guitry register. I had not finished dealing with the subject between what is chic and what is vulgar, what is or not good taste. Some people speak very well and say despicable things. Elegance must be in the feeling more than in the phrasing. And politicians are not the only ones concerned. I have a boyfriend who got kicked out of a big box. We told him: “We have decided to let you go”. This great violence is seen every day.