Les Chansons et les Comptines

jeanette.jpgHere in France a lot of the songs the children sing have been around for generations. It’s quite cute actually — my daughter is now singing songs that my grandmother sang with me, which have been hidden somewhere in a forgotten part of my brain and which I am now remembering.

So I have picked up a couple of CDs and we listen to them loads and have a bit of a dance-off (though the CDs we have are fun, I have not as of yet found a CD that is outstanding and that I could recommend). I was being a bit slow on the uptake and it is only after a while that I started to tune in and realise that some of the songs are not really politically correct in the world of 2009…

For example, I am not sure how appropriate it is for a 3-year-old to sing “I have really good tobacco, but you’re not going to get any”!!!  I mean, kids and tobacco don’t really mix and if they did, sharing with their friends would be a good thing to encourage. Take another song: “Ne pleur pas Jeanette”. This is the story of a girl who is crying because someone is going to marry her off to a man not of her choosing. She wants a dude called Pierre, who is currently in prison. To stop her from having Pierre she is told that he is going to be hanged. In another song a girl is happily skipping around the Lorraine in her clogs when some guys come up to her and tell her that she is really ugly.

I guess in old-school France political correctness was not high on the agenda…. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of sweet, cute and innocent songs out there, but it is quite funny to see some very incorrect ones slipping through the radar in our very correct world. I’d love to hear what kids are singing in other countries!

- Emilie

7 COMMENTS - Add your own

1. Shannon G | April 10, 2009 | Reply

Could you recommend the CD’s you do like? I would love to get some, but now I’m scared I’ll accidentally arrange a forced marriage in France!

2. Esther | April 11, 2009 | Reply

Hilarious! We have some songs like that in the Netherlands. F.e., one is about 2 sweet rabbits sitting in a field, holding hands. Until a hunter comes and shoots one!
Or the one about 7 frogs freezing to death in a creek.
How appropriate for little children!

3. gabrielle | April 11, 2009 | Reply

The French and their unashamed incorrectness always makes me laugh. I mean, imagine an American children’s book referring to parts of Asia or Mexico in the 50s and 60s like the French refer to Africa still being on the best seller lists today. It’s unimaginable. My favourite is the intro to the Happy Lion whose “home was not the hot and dangerous plains of Africa, where hunters lie in wait with their guns. It was a lovely French town ….” and the whole Babar phenomenon, which my kid loves but which always makes me feel a bit queasy. Now he is onto Babar’s Gallery which is at least a bit more subtle in its neo-colonialism. I’m not too sure what to think about any of this but I’ll admit to breathing a huge sigh of relief when reading any of his Little Golden Books where the taxi drivers all chain-smoke and no kids have peanut allergies!

4. destri | April 11, 2009 | Reply

We have one we sing, I don’t know where it originated from, but the lyrics are fun to tickle with. In the song you sing how “i’m being eaten by a boa constrictor and I don’t like it one bit! Oh no! he’s got my toes” and then it moves up the body to “oh gees he’s up to my knees!” “oh my! he’s eating my thigh” “Oh fiddle he’s up to my middle!” “Oh heck! he’s up to my neck!” and lastly “I’m dead because he ate my head!” in between these verses you out the boa constrictor part. My kids live it, but my husband cringes every time we sing it!

5. Emilie | April 14, 2009 | Reply

I don’t really have a single CD that I can recommend, a have brought several and though the songs are fun on all the CD’s there is not really one CD that stands out.

6. ~SarahInParis~ | April 15, 2009 | Reply

Emilie and Shannon this one is our household favourite … “80 Comptines À Mimer Et Jeux De Doigts”. It’s great as it also has all the words and has really helped me acquaint myself with french children’s songs. I think you can find it at FNAC Eveil et Jeux.

7. Emilie | April 17, 2009 | Reply

Thanks Sarah! I will look out for it!

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