Immortal (as plural) is one of the last songs that Alain Bashung registered but did not publish on his last album, released a few months before he died in 2009. Written for him by Dominique A, another king of the French rock scene, the song is now available in both versions, two occasions to admire the precision of Dominique A’s songwriting.
An art in which Bashung was a master of as well, with texts sometimes at the limit of understanding, open to all interpretations, with a strong and poetic power of evocation, often with a sexual undertone. Impossible to translate anyway!
La nuit je mens (At Night, I Lie) for example, written with his usual lyricist Jean Fauque, is supposed to be an evocation of resistance during the WW2. Résidents de la République (Residents of the Republic) can be understood as a testament (Darling, with the atoms, do what you want) or a reckoning with the Socialist Party and its broken promises!
Before this highlight of his career, Bashung has been the perfect example of the virtue of work and pugnacity. He began as a "crooner" (in France, it's not really a compliment) and has looked for his style years along. Tired of the lack of success, he was about to quit when Gaby oh Gaby (that's a nickname for the French forename Gabriel or Gabrielle), lyrics by Boris Bergman, became a hit in 1980 and the departure point of a success story.
I saw him several times in concert, and especially the last one, in June 2008 at the Olympia (the most famous venue in Paris). He was weakened by a cancer, everybody knew it was the end, but his voice still had this depth, powerful and lyricism that could fly away to the top.
At night I lie
I take trains across the plain
At night I lie
Brazenly (La nuit je mens, on Fantaisie militaire, 1998 )
Dominique A, La Musique, 2009
Alain Bashung, En Amont, 2018 (posthumous)