Le Big Bazar and a Bit Bizarre

If you grew up as I did as a francophone in the 1970s, you would remember Michel Fugain et le Big Bazar. I certainly remember songs like “Une Belle Histoire,” as it would often play on the morning show on CBAF radio as we’d be getting up and ready for school or work.

For increased laugh factor, I just HAD to pick the cheesiest possible video of this song on YouTube. I mean, today, I doubt even a gay man would be caught wearing shorts as short as those the guy on this video was wearing. Oye!

Fugain still deserves praise and respect in francophone pop culture in that he had a style and sound of his own. Is it pop? Is it rock? No, it’s Michel Fugain et le Big Bazar. Period. And although highly sentimental for the most part, the catchy melodies served as a vehicle for poetic lyrics. Too bad the English translation on this video is so poor.

Meanwhile, one Sunday in mid-September of last year, I drove to Hudson, just off the western tip of the Island of Montréal, to take advantage of one of the last warm days of summer. And here in Montréal, while I drive around in Junior, I alternate between two radio stations: CJPX — Radio-Classique Montréal and CFZZ — BoomFM (St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu).

The former station is remarkably good. I remember that initially, when I would come to Montréal and listen to it, it often had B-class recordings of major works, but it has improved a great deal since then. And I have to say that the morning show on CJPX is far more becoming than its counterpart on the Toronto classical station, which nearly drove me to pull my hair out when I was listening to it while in TO last October. Imagine the pump-pump-pump tone of morning DJs on a rock station combined with the most inappropriate classical music for the morning: that was my experience of the Toronto classical station. But that’s not surprising to me, though; compared to Montréal, Toronto has no class.***

The latter station is a delightful morsel of cheese ideally suited for driving. Dubbing itself “The Radio of Legends” (in reference to the fact it plays “classic hits”), BoomFM features songs mostly in French from the ’60s to the ’80s and even names its evening show “Amour Libre” (“Free Love”), which ought to give you a good indication of its high cheese factor.

Anyway, when I was driving back from Hudson that beautiful September afternoon, they played this one song that I remembered hearing from Moncton on some Montréal station — either the now-defunct CKLM or the now-all-sports CKAC — one night while falling asleep at age …oh …maybe 10 or 11. It wouldn’t play that often but, for some reason, it got me all excited and I just LOVED that melody. Now? Not so much, but the nostalgia brought on by hearing it again drew a huge smile on my face.

So, I got home and I found it on YouTube. I also looked up the singer in Wikipedia: his stage name was C. Jérôme (his real name being Claude Dhotel) and he died of cancer in 2000. But he had been a madly successful French singer, especially in the 1970s.

Then I continued poking around YouTube and Wikipedia for the next hour or so — you know how you can get lost for hours following link after link on such sites — until I stumbled upon the most bizarre and hilarious videos by Colette and Odette, a couple of European drag queens. I can’t decide on just one video, so I’m linking to the three that nearly made me piss myself laughing.

For those of you who understand French and perhaps remember this 1975 hit by Michèle Torr, brace yourselves! For those of you who don’t understand French, you’re bound to have at least a good chuckle.

As for the following medley, well, I just hope Jeff is reading this post, because I think it’s totally up his alley of twisted humour.

And then there’s this one! What to say, what to say, what to say? Well, I’m certainly impressed with the production value. And I’m choosing to call this one “drag queens’ design (miss)adventures.”

So, there you have it: From the Bazar to the bizarre. I hope you enjoyed.

*** I’m sure I’m going to get lambasted for that remark!

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