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A French taxi driver and actor/singer Yves Montand

BROADCAST: 1962 | DURATION: 00:47:45


While waiting to see Yves Montand, Studs speaks with a taxi driver through an interpreter, Michelle [Viande?]. Also speaks to Yves Montand.


Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.


Auguste Humet [French].

Studs Terkel This is the voice of cab driver, a French cab driver who has been working his beat for the past 38 years, and I'm curious: Michelle [Vian? Viane? Viand?] is seated in the back here, and this is just before we're interviewing Yves Montand, we're waiting outside, and since he's been driven--been driving for 38 years, ever since 1924. What is his reaction, Michelle? What has happened to the traffic situation?

Michelle Viand De pique a

Auguste Humet vous avez conduit, quelle est de venir la situation du traffique? Eh bien, du traffique, il vie a beaucoup, beaucoup plus de voitures, que l'entend on les vu les gens [French].

Michelle Viand It's very different because, of course, there weren't so many cars and for example, they were very much more considered, and he was called "Mr. the Mechanician, and now they just say "chauffeur."

Auguste Humet Eh, oui. Par

Studs Terkel So there's a difference in [unintelligible].

Auguste Humet

Michelle Viand So there's a difference in [unintelligible]. [French]. Par example, for example, this man, what is your name, Monsieur? Quelle est votre nom, Monsieur?

Auguste Humet Moi, je m'appelle Humet, Auguste.

Michelle Viand

Auguste Humet

Michelle Viand Auguste Humet. J'habite dans Boulogne sur Seine. And he lives in Boulogne, which is very near Paris, it's a suburb of Paris in the south, and Mr. [Humais?] was in 1922 the chauffeur of an American family.

Auguste Humet [French] Delaney, s'appellez, c'etait un avocat.

Michelle Viand Mr. Delaney, and he was councillor.

Studs Terkel Delaney probably would be Delaney, I suppose. I'm thinking now, Monsieur, you were a chauffeur. Now you are a cab driver. But the traffic itself, have the people changed in 38 years since you are no longer referred to as "Mr. Technician" but merely a chauffeur. What are the attitudes of people generally on the streets driving? What change have you noticed in the

Michelle Viand people? Quelle changement avez-vous remarquer par mi vos clientes [French]?

Auguste Humet Oui, c'est differente, parce-que maintenant les gens [French].

Michelle Viand Yes, it's very different because people now, nearly everybody has his car and you don't need a chauffeur as much.

Auguste Humet [French].

Studs Terkel I mean, is there a lack of, is there less consideration or more? I mean attitudes toward people, they're more--

Michelle Viand [French].

Auguste Humet [French].

Michelle Viand Yes, it's not, of course, like, because people are not--they are impatient and they say, "Oh, well, this is another taxi, this is another chauffeur."

Studs Terkel And, so, the sense more of a tension among people since the machine has come into being elsewhere.

Michelle Viand That's right.

Studs Terkel What's the hurry? Ask him what the hurry is on their part. Why are they in a hurry? Ask him what his feeling is about hurry.

Michelle Viand Pourqoi les gens

Auguste Humet sont toujour presse, qu'est-ce que vouz pensez de cette [French]? [French].

Michelle Viand Et pourqoi pensez-vous

Auguste Humet qi-il sorter [French]? [French].

Michelle Viand He says he doesn't know why people hurry so much, he doesn't see the reason, exactly, but it's not as pleasant as it was in the good old times, of course.

Studs Terkel Would he want the old times to come back?

Michelle Viand Est-ce que vous aimerier avoir le revenir de

Auguste Humet

Michelle Viand

Auguste Humet vieux temps? Eh bien, oui, j'etait [French]. Yes, he was very happy. Parce-que vous savez le dimanche, nous avions le famille, et nous sortions au de Paris, nous allions a la compagne, [French].

Michelle Viand It was much more familial. For example, every Sunday--not sometimes, but every Sunday--he used to take families out of Paris, and they went, going into picnics, and visiting. Now, from time to time, he has an American that wants to see the Chateau de Versailles, and goes there, but it's very seldom. The work isn't so nice and isn't so familiar as it was.

Studs Terkel Oh, the people then don't see the scenery as much as they once did?

Michelle Viand Yes, but they have their own cars.

Studs Terkel Oh, I see, so their own cars. By the way, does he have a family?

Michelle Viand Est-ce que vous avez une

Auguste Humet

Michelle Viand famille? Oui, Madame, j'ai une famille. Mon fils est le 42 ans. His eldest son is 42.

Auguste Humet [French].

Michelle Viand And his grandson is 17 and a little granddaughter is two.

Studs Terkel How does he feel about his eldest son? Does he feel the same way that our friend here feels about wishing for old times to come back? Does his son feel this way?

Michelle Viand Est-ce que par example votre fils la meme on vie que vous? [French].

Auguste Humet [French].

Michelle Viand No, it's not the same generation, so as the times have changed, he has changed, too. He's the youngest generation.

Auguste Humet [French].

Michelle Viand And today they are very ambitious, much more than the times.

Studs Terkel They are ambitious.

Auguste Humet [French].

Michelle Viand And he says, "C'est pas beau." It's not nice.

Studs Terkel Thank you very much, Monsieur, beaucoup. Thank you. No, no, please! [pause in recording] This is the eve of homecoming for me. Seven weeks away in Europe, Rome, London, Paris, back to Paris again. And I can't think of any better way for us to return home and end this trip than being in conversation with the most natural of men. Last night at the Theatre Etoile--

Michelle Viand

Studs Terkel De l'Etoile. De l'Etoile. Theatre de l'Etoile from the second balcony. There were four of us watching an artist at work. But he was more than an artist, he was a free man on that stage. He was, I suppose we'd say the natural man, Yves Montand. And I understand now why it is that all France, people in provinces and cities, feel such a deep affection for him, because last night on that stage they saw a free spirit in action. We'll talk about, I hope, with Mr. Montand about his craftsmanship itself, the discipline, the body, but more than that, the spirit of the man. Monsieur Montand, with your permission, because this was quite an experience for me last night, and my companions, the songs that you sang could be the basis of this conversation. The very songs.

Yves Montand Oui, I'm sorry for--at the beginning, I have to say, I don't speak English so well, so I'm going to try to speak very slowly and sometime I'm going to speak in French and Mademoiselle near from hers, she translate what I can't say correctly in English. Now, first of all, I'm sorry, Monsieur, I can't understand very well what you--

Studs Terkel I have a tendency to speak too quick.

Yves Montand I understand that you compliment.

Studs Terkel But now I will speak a little more slowly. By the way, your English is very good, and Michelle [Viand?] will be here because again we must carry through the same principle of being a free man here in the conversation, too. So by all means, French and English, whichever suits you. The songs that you choose, see, we'll find out about your life and your thoughts, I think, through the songs that you sing.

Yves Montand Ah, oui.

Studs Terkel For example, you opened the program last night with a song about walking, a man walking through--what is that called in French?

Yves Montand [French] We know our city, everybody know his city, but we don't know very well until we go by foot, I mean, to walk in the street and see just a simple people, ordinary people, the children and little shop and the girls, of course, and I think this is put the audience in, I think, in a good relaxation through this song with the story of the ordinary man going to walk through the street.

Studs Terkel You say, this is interesting, you choose this song. True, it's a good opening number, relaxes the audience, but there's something else involved here: I think every song you choose has a special kind of meaning and flavor. The song of the ordinary man, you see, walking, you see. We live in a pretty fast time, you know.

Yves Montand Little bit too fast, yes, sometime.

Studs Terkel You chose--why did you choose this particular song? Why did you like this song?

Yves Montand Well, first of all I think because I--[French].

Michelle Viand I feel that.

Yves Montand I feel that and I tried to give all the song true what he's, how little problem, little [French].

Michelle Viand He tries to give all the little troubles, the little joys, every little problem that is in a man's life. That's what he's trying to give.

Studs Terkel Here, then, this song, which is the nature of more--it's a vignette, too, because you act. We should, we'll point this out as we go along. You act this out, you mime it, too, and you dance it in more of this--let's hear this then, walking through, walking through life's of--"Je

Yves Montand Vais-- "A Pies".

Studs Terkel "A Pies", with the feet. As we listen to the song, and it should be pointed out that Monsieur Montand's art is visual, as well as audio, it's seeing him. Perhaps I should ask this now, the complete control you have on your body, the way the--when you answer the audience applause, you are still in the rhythm. You're still in the spirit.

Yves Montand Yes, because I think it's important to keep the timing of the show especially when you do the one-man show. And we must sometime, I don't know if you see that, I stop the applause because we must go on, otherwise the timing is wrong. And in the same time they applaud, we must keep, I'm try to keep the same spirit I gave a little while ago and prepare the next number coming.

Studs Terkel So this is a very definite and careful programming. It's a blending, isn't it? I mean, you don't lose the swing. You know, jazzmen would say it's the swing of it, and you're completely in the swing, in rhythm. At the same time, it's not a sharp cutting-off.

Yves Montand No, I try to keep what you said, the swing of the show.

Studs Terkel As you do, indeed, as we watch you there. I think we should ask something about these songs and, before we continue the other songs, these are not pop songs, pop as we know them in America, like "boy meets girl, boy loves girl," you have love songs--

Yves Montand Yes, of course, of course.

Studs Terkel But then how would you describe these songs that you sing?

Yves Montand About love song, you mean?

Studs Terkel No, the whole general pattern of songs that you sing.

Yves Montand Well, you know, I think it's sometime a little bit difficult to explain, because I feel it. But quelque fois, sometime is difficult to explain exactly why I am in--for me, it's impossible to sing a song if I don't feel completely inside. Even if I make a mistake, because sometimes I make mistake like everybo--people, but I want to be first, first sure by myself, and if I'm not touched by the heart I don't give, and sometime I make mistake also, because in the 25 number I give there, probably three or four, some people, they don't like it, you know, but because the taste is different--

Studs Terkel Ahh, well, you've just said something that's very interesting to me. Some people don't like it, but you like it. I mean, you choose a song, I want to ask you, this is a key question. You choose this song. Not to please the--but to please yourself.

Yves Montand That's it. I think it's important. Otherwise, you are very, I don't think you can go a career in this case. You must impose what do you feel and what you, is touch you and not what the people all time wants, because, you know, even here in Europe, "The Twist", for instance, is one of the best sell records. But how strange coincidence it is, I made the 10 years ago, the French folk songs, French, this record continue to sell like nothing move about cha cha cha, or twist, or rock. Nothing. I think is the same for American song like Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, who they are the real spirit of American songs for me.

Studs Terkel There is the American, shall we say, musical comedy.

Yves Montand Yes, I think so. And he gave also the real face of America, of music. I mean, I understand that the little teenager like "Twist", but this is different.

Studs Terkel So therefore, you will not appeal to what you think is a common fashion of the day. You will not cater to this fashion, it must be to you.

Yves Montand That's it.

Studs Terkel Let's continue if we may, with these, now here you were walking, what is another song, we may go down the line, there are, of course, 25, but if we could cover let's say about a dozen as we go through. Now what is second, I like all these, there's "[J'Aires a la Java?]", now this is, the one of Jacques Prevert, this one.

Yves Montand "Quelqu'un".

Studs Terkel "Quelqu'un". "Quelqu'un". This one.

Yves Montand This is difficult to explain, because it is, I think, it's very difficult to explain in English about "Quelqu'un".

Studs Terkel Well, explain it in French.

Yves Montand "Quelqu'un" is something, he's a man completely idiot, but more than idiot, and I'm sorry to censor, you can't said that on the radio, you can say onstage. He is a man, he is sad because his name is a very, I don't know if I can said, a dirty name.

Studs Terkel Oh, I see, it's a, yes, it's an obscene word.

Yves Montand That's it. And he work on the street alone, very sad. Suddenly he find in the--comment dit-on "poubelle"?

Michelle Viand Dustbin.

Studs Terkel In the dustbin.

Yves Montand Dustbin, a phonebook. A big phonebook. And this man, read this book because he's annoying himself and he finds his name. He's the, this name is the only name in the--

Studs Terkel In the telephone directory.

Yves Montand Book. Now he's not sad, he's very happy because he is the alone man with the dirty man.

Studs Terkel Then he is unique.

Yves Montand Unique.

Studs Terkel He is unique.

Yves Montand Stupid man. I mean, you know--

Studs Terkel Yes, but he is, nonetheless, he is the only one.

Yves Montand That's it, the only one. And the words for, pour designee, sela? What do you say, designee, pour designee ca?

Michelle Viand To show.

Yves Montand To show this name is a typical French word. I think they use also in America.

Studs Terkel Oh, yes, I think we can use our imagination on this. But what's, as you did it, again we must recall last night to us, because people are listening, the art of Montand is a dual one. It's the visual, the mime, the acting, the athletics, the acrobatics, and the singing. And there's a wonderful humor in the doing, and of course, the audience, so we'll hear the song, then. It's "Quelqu'un", meaning somebody?

Yves Montand Somebody.

Studs Terkel Somebody.

Yves Montand Jacques Prevert.

Studs Terkel Jacques Prevert. [pause in recording] Here, then, is a man who has arrived finding his own solution. He is unique, no matter what others may say about his name. And so we go in, again, I think--what is occurring to me as we're doing this, it's suddenly occurring, that it'll be all aspects of man in one way. This is a wild kind of humor. The first of the simple walking, what's another aspect? Oh, there's one, "L'Etranger", is that "The Stranger"?

Yves Montand "L'Etrangere".

Studs Terkel "L'Etrangere".

Yves Montand Is a--"L'Etrangere" it mean "The Stranger", a woman stranger, is a story about a gypsies guy who came in the little village of France to play at night. I'm sorry, the poem was wrote by Mr. Aragon, who is one of the most talented--

Studs Terkel French poets.

Yves Montand And it decrit, it describe where some people go, there were gypsies dance and sing. And he met a wonderful girl and he take this girl and come home and make love with her. But he described these with very rich and wonderful and simple words. It's not only meet some gypsies, is more than that. And they make a big fiesta, and the big fiesta and, oh, gee, it is very difficult to

Studs Terkel explain. No, know you're doing it very well. You're doing it beautifully, Monsieur Montand.

Yves Montand And they have a wonderful day and very short night and they finish the fiesta because the rain is coming. And now they say goodbye. This is a song about love between a man and a gypsy.

Studs Terkel I think just before we hear this song, I think you've pointed something out here. It's not just a Tin Pan Alley boy-meets-girl, boy-loves-girl, this is, some of your poems I notice are written by some of the finest of--Apollinaire, we'll come to him in a moment. Louis Aragon, [Beauvert?] was a good writer, you have the--you choose--the lyrics are very--this--literature!

Yves Montand I try to keep the lyric the most more musically best writing, but is not to be--you know, a song is just a song. You cannot sing a song is too much write like Shakespeare, for instance, he's too strong for--

Studs Terkel A stage. Too rich.

Yves Montand Too rich. You must sings a song--C'est difficile a expliquer--popular song, but not vulgar song. You must sing simple.

Studs Terkel Simple.

Yves Montand But not common

Studs Terkel Not common. Not common.

Yves Montand

Studs Terkel That's it. You're doing this beautifully. You're making this, this is again, I think, is a very key point. We'll probably have to just repeat. This point of, what makes a good lyric for a song? If it's too rich--

Yves Montand Oui.

Studs Terkel Like, let me cite an example, Sean O'Casey, "Juno and the Paycock", the Irish playwright, was put to music. And it flopped! Because some said this was a song in itself without the music, you see, it was too rich. So you must choose something simple--

Yves Montand That's it.

Studs Terkel But beautiful.

Yves Montand Voila.

Studs Terkel That would

Yves Montand lend itself. That's it. For instance, Aragon wrote many other poem, beautiful poem, but is good to read it, not to sing, not put music on, because the poem is enough in itself, it not need music about it.

Studs Terkel But here the music fits.

Yves Montand

Studs Terkel C'est ca. So if we may hear this, then, and I remember this clarinet in the background, a very excellent band, by the way.

Yves Montand Yeah, is good band.

Studs Terkel And this is "Etranger"--

Yves Montand

Studs Terkel "L'Etrangere". "L'Etranger".

Yves Montand "Er-re".

Studs Terkel Aragon's poem sung by Montand, "The Stranger".

Yves Montand

Michelle Viand

Studs Terkel [French]. [French]. Here, then, here then another aspect, and if we may, I may be romanticizing this of the enthusiasm I felt for last night's and talking with you right now. We did just wander a bit, this will all be informal, we hear the songs, but Yves Montand, these songs about gypsies, strangers, people who are looked upon--we always fear something strange, everybody fears something strange. Yet, you make it become part of this audience last night.

Yves Montand Yeah.

Studs Terkel Yves Montand himself, you, how you came to be the, you're from Marseilles originally?

Yves Montand Yes, I--no, I born in Italy. I came in France when I was 2 years old. We came here because the fascism coming from in Italy and like many Italian who some many goes to America, we came here in France and we live in Marseilles in the south of France, many years, 20 years, and I came in Paris six months before the French liberation. The Nazi were still there for six months before the liberation. And I sing for many times.

Studs Terkel In Marseilles I understand you worked as a longshoreman, as a dockhand, too.

Yves Montand Yes, I work in the waterfront, I make many work in the manufactory, hairdresser, because my sister she was hairdresser for women, and I work there because, you know, the Italy family like the child, the children stay home, you understand, and this is difficult to go to working and go by yourself, you must. And like I am a lot of work, like I suppose many people do in their life.

Studs Terkel But you did a variety of work. You worked, with your hands, too.

Yves Montand Oui.

Studs Terkel You were a hard-working man.

Yves Montand Yes. Yes.

Studs Terkel How did you--this all, by the way, your use of hands. It's the grace, the ease you do it, we'll come to one of the pieces on my mind later on.

Yves Montand Oui, oui.

Studs Terkel But the--how did you become a singer, a performer? You were working--

Yves Montand Well, at the beginning I didn't want to come a singers. I, when I was very young, I--very few little years ago, I went many days to see a movie. The big, a wonderful American movie with Fred Astaire. And the jazz, the good jazz with Armstrong and I'll have--J'avait--I had?

Michelle Viand I had.

Yves Montand I had a very big admiration for Chevalier, with was and is still very good, wonderful performer. But singing for singing, I didn't like it so much. But one day I'm start because one of a very famous composer in France for us strange was Charles Trenet, who immediately every people in France sing the song of Charles Trenet, I want to go onstage for myself, choice some song of Trenet, because nobody wrote the song for myself. As you know, in France, if you want to come singer, you must have your own material. You cannot sing, for instance, the song of Chevalier sing, or Charles Trenet, or Georges Brassens, or Edith Piaf. You must have your own material.

Studs Terkel This is a very, this point you make. I remember interviewing Piaf when she was in America at the Chicago, at a club once, and asked about a song that I love to hear you sing. I wondered whether she sang it. It was called "Actualite", I think. I asked her about it, she says, "No, that belongs to Montand!"

Yves Montand She said that?

Studs Terkel Yes!

Yves Montand Did she?

Studs Terkel No, no, but the point I'm--this is your point, that songs belong to a certain sing--a certain kind of song, such as "L'Accordeoniste" would be hers.

Yves Montand That's it.

Studs Terkel It would have to be hers. So each--

Yves Montand C'est ca.

Studs Terkel So therefore the song is unique to the singer.

Yves Montand That's it. Oui. Ca c'est tes autres. It is very important you have--you cannot do your--otherwise, you cannot come out if you don't have your own material.

Studs Terkel So watching you last night, these were Montand songs.

Yves Montand Yes, absolutely, yes.

Studs Terkel And all aspects of you. So then, this led you into singing. The acting--what about your? I must ask this physical aspect. You must keep in shape like a boxer or something. Are you?

Yves Montand Well, I worked when I was 20 years old. I work, I learned the classic dancer with a Russian professor in Marseilles and every week, three times a week, I went there to work for my legs, for dance like in opera, because you want, desire, I came a dancer for the opera because he said, "You have a big elevation and you are strong and I think is very good in the opera if you have the men like this because you can help very much the women dancer and he give to me very much. He kill me, completely, because he was too tough for me. Three hours dance like this and especially I didn't start when I was young. I mean, when I was a child. I start 18, 19 years old. Nineteen dix-neuf? Yeah, 19 years old, but this give to me a wonderful basis to can walk, acting and to

Studs Terkel stay-- Rhythm.

Yves Montand Yes.

Studs Terkel Well, this is int--if things worked out differently, you might well have become a ballet dancer. You might have. You might become a Euskavitch, or something like that.

Yves Montand Oui.

Studs Terkel Quite possibly.

Yves Montand Oui. Yes. I think if [French].

Michelle Viand [French].

Yves Montand I think, yes, it would this, I think also is true, yes.

Studs Terkel Because you do the variety. I think we should point out to the audience the variety of what Yves Montand does, aside from the songs we just hear his voice on these records. It's the dancing, the acrobatics, but the sense of rhythm. But I ask about boxing because you--the

Yves Montand athletics! I do that, boxing a little bit when I was 16 years old.

Studs Terkel I wasn't aware of that. You did?

Yves Montand For three months, then stop. I receive a so big tough one in the nose one day and I stop.

Studs Terkel That did it.

Yves Montand Was too tough. Yes.

Studs Terkel So the idea of being a Sonny Liston never--

Yves Montand But I make a little training like I suppose every child do when they are young.

Studs Terkel So if we may, another aspect of your observations, a part of your life, there's a song that the audience recognized immediately, and it's called "Sir Godfrey". Now, "Sir Godfrey" is a very frightening sort of figure. Tell us about "Sir Godfrey".

Yves Montand Well, "Sir Godfrey" is, I think, this in this case I utilize--utiliser, I utilize I suppose my silhouette and the story is good. I mean, but is more for you a silhouette. And what happen in the song with the story of a British exteriorly he look like sir, but in fact he is a gangster life but not with the gun, but with umbrella. And in umbrella he have a--

Studs Terkel Sword.

Yves Montand Sword. That's it. And what he explained he's tried to explain at the beginning he's a very high bry (sic) exteriorly sir. He gives oyster to his horse, and he play golf, billiard. He doesn't like to talk too much with a young girl, because we suppose maybe he's a little bizarre

Studs Terkel

Yves Montand man. Yes. Bizarre. But suddenly in the second chorus, we discover is in fact like very tough terrible gangster, but with humor, of course, this.

Studs Terkel This is a frightening--it's funny, and at the same time frightening, and use of production, you say, it's your silhouette. On the screen behind Montand, behind which we see the orchestra, too, it's transparent, yet, we see the silhouette and, so, it makes it all the more sinister.

Yves Montand Yes.

Studs Terkel The more frightening.

Yves Montand Frightening. Yes. Yes. But I think it's a very difficult to give a good impression on radio, because the words are also very important and we must see the silhouette.

Studs Terkel This is a drama, I should point out, too, that many of these songs are not so much songs alone, they're vignette, I suppose would be the way to describe them. They're little dramas, they're stories. So you are actor, singer, dancer, it's all three.

Yves Montand Oui.

Studs Terkel And acrobat, too, we'll come to that in a minute. So there's, "Sir

Yves Montand Godfrey". [pause for recording] Maybe you can cut just one chorus you put for "Sir Godfrey" because it [French].

Studs Terkel

Michelle Viand Yeah, right. Yves says it's so much visual that it may be difficult to give an idea of it, a real idea on the radio.

Studs Terkel This is a good point we'll probably--

Yves Montand Remember that when he's dancer?

Studs Terkel I think Yves Montand is saying now he, there were several phone calls in the middle of his work. He obviously has many, you know, involvements in theater, in films, and on--involving his one-man show. But he was just saying something. You were saying, we were speaking of the ease we feel here with you, Monsieur Montand, this ease, and you were saying this is your whole approach as a performer on the stage.

Yves Montand Yes.

Studs Terkel You give the audience the impression of--that it's easy.

Yves Montand That's it. And, I think, is one of the secret we have to give to the audience, to give the impression, look, is very easy and come and stay, and you can do the same thing. Like you remember many years ago and still now, when the big Fred Astaire dance in the movie, you think, "Oh, I'm going home and do the same thing, is so easy." No.

Studs Terkel That's right.

Yves Montand That's, I think, is one of the secret for--

Studs Terkel The secret of the artist who makes it seem so easy. I think this involves a point I had made earlier in describing you as a free man. That is, a natural man. It's that ease that you have. And, yet, there's a discipline there, too.

Yves Montand Oh, and how, and very much work. But when at the moment you appear on stage you must forget everything about what it was the work, preparation and everything, discipline, and come on do it, and give me. So you must give.

Studs Terkel I think one of the things audiences want, and this is what happens with performers who just miss something, when the audience feels tense. They want that man to succeed, to go over, then we know something is missing.

Yves Montand Oui.

Studs Terkel They must be completely in your hands.

Yves Montand That's it. They must be there and perfectly relax and seem the time is very short, and--

Studs Terkel And, yet, within that time, within this two-hour period of these oh, 20, 25 songs you op--which are, really, song dramas, you give us different aspects of your own observations as this man, Montand, and aspects of life. So we've just seen part of this Godfrey, Sir Godfrey, this bizarre figure who is rather menacing underneath. So we go from him to what, shall we say, "Syracuse", or?

Yves Montand "Syracuse".

Studs Terkel What is "Syracuse"?

Yves Montand Well, "Syracuse" the word it means death. The words are very good. You said, after I'm finished "Sir Godfrey", I said okay, London is a wonderful city and the people are very nice people. Because we remind what it was during the war without British people for us maybe we still now under the Nazi. We don't forget these, we don't forget Stalingrad, we don't forget the 16th of June when the American troops come in in France. For us, for our generation, we cannot miss that. On dit "missed"?

Studs Terkel That's it.

Yves Montand So, and after this I say, yes, I have a little enchainer, how do you say?

Studs Terkel Introduction?

Yves Montand Introduction to explain London is a wonderful city, the people and so and so on, go on and go on. And, but, maybe I know a lot of city in my life and many country, but still I would like very much "J'aimerais tont voir Syracuse", Syracuse who is the place like Syracuse, Babylon garden of Babylon, the llama--

Studs Terkel Oh, it's exotic.

Yves Montand It exist. I would like to see of this country they said is so beautiful. Going to drink palm, wine of palm, to hearing the wind sing, and the guitar play like this. Yes. Before my youth go completely and "Avant que ma jeunesse s'use et que, et que, avant que ma jeunesse s'use, et que"--Before my youth is gone and all my spring--"Et

Michelle Viand

Yves Montand que mes printemps soient partis," my spring--on dit? All gone. Before my springs are completely gone, well, I would like to see Syracuse for remember this old country here in Paris.

Studs Terkel Ah, so this then is fantasy. The yearning--

Yves Montand Yes.

Studs Terkel To see just--

Yves Montand Also a little bit melancholy, to--yeah, that's it. For instance, what I have here now. I went Russia and America and in England, in Japan, in every country in the world and is very warm to me to remind all these places I met and a lot of people I met there, simple people or healthy people, or, you know.

Studs Terkel Here then, this is all in "Syracuse", which seemingly is just a gentle song, and it is that, you know, but at the same time has all Yves Montand's own impressions in it. This is a question of the song. I think this is another case, we'll hear "Syracuse" now, but it's an extension of your own personality, of your own observations. You cannot be separated from the songs you sing.

Yves Montand No, of course not. Of course not.

Studs Terkel "Syracuse". [pause in recording] As we just heard "Syracuse", or part of the song, there is something you said before the song was on, about--you spoke of London and Syracuse, you speak of things that happen in the world in recent years. And you make this part of what you do. We know that people are aware there was a war. They're aware of tensions in the world. But you bring all this out naturally. It's this--Natural man?

Yves Montand Yes, I think is difficult for our generation to get off what happened to us, especially for European people. I mean, we live under the horror of Nazi occasion, and we know what we're talking about this, and I think for us, it's difficult to separate what we call the "art" and what we call the "life." I mean, it's something--I think everything is gone together, all together, I cannot separate it. Of course, in some number I sing just art for art, like the young lady in the--

Studs Terkel Swing. Which is a very funny

Yves Montand one. We'll come to that. You know, it's not always all the time, I say, let me see, let me think. Well, the Nazi was here, and now, okay, forget it. I mean, not forget it, but still the little life must go on.

Studs Terkel There is a humor in life, too, and relaxation.

Yves Montand That's it. And we have now the other problem. I mean, I don't know anything about atomic bomb or many thing like this. I mean, I cannot separate what is our problem, and sometimes not big problem, sometime just a little simple problem we have every days just to live, is so complicated sometime, you know, even for--I realize it's very easy for us, especially for me. I made a lot of money. And as you know, when you have a lot of money, lot of problem you can resolve very easily. This I realize that. But still we have also many problem, you know, and what I try is to, I try every night to say for two hours, "Hey, people now, forget. What we have the children, your wife, your hair gone or your teeth, or your I don't know, bodies. I mean, and come on, the life is the life." And is this something also beautiful. Many things are so.

Studs Terkel This point you're making about art and life being together, you can't separate them, just as the song is an extension of your own personality.

Yves Montand De c'est ca.

Studs Terkel This is the point. Before we hear this, I think this is, leads us to the next song, almost--let's do this now. This next song is one again words by Aragón, this song. What's it called?

Yves Montand "Est-ce Ainsi Que Les Hommes Vivent". But can I say something?

Studs Terkel Please.

Yves Montand I think is difficult for you to put this on the radio because it is a [pause in recording]--

Studs Terkel We were saying, or you were saying, Monsieur Montand, about the song depending so much on the actual words, [although this is in French?] we listen to it in America, yet, as you are telling us this, it comes out clear. You said it deals with people's thoughts, serious or humorous, or sometimes problems now, and again, the use of the poet, of the serious poet, whether it's Prevert or whether it's Apollinaire, or Aragon.

Yves Montand Aragon, oui. For instance, this song I call "Est-ce Ainsi Que Les Hommes Vivent", it mean, is like that, the men live. This poem was wrought by Aragon just after the first big war, World War. When he was in the French army occupation in Germany around the years 1920-21 and I make, I say something about the voice. In this song I speak more than sing. I mean, because each word are so beautiful, and so important. We must say it with more application.

Studs Terkel This is almost recitative.

Yves Montand Yes. With the atmosphere of the birth of the blues, not the blues, but the jazz band, the first--remember in 1920, especially for here in Europe, you were in America, we were, vous etiez, we were a little bit farther.

Michelle Viand In America you were already far ahead. It was just beginning, the jazz, in France.

Studs Terkel Except for one thing. I must make one point, Monsieur Montand, please forgive me for making this point, but even though we were ahead, American public wasn't, and it was men like Panassie, and others who, really, in writing these books, made other Americans conscious of jazz, you see, so it's strange how it worked. But this song that you sing, this, it's--you don't sing, as you say, this is a drama with music almost. It's a story with music.

Yves Montand Said that's it. And it

Studs Terkel

Yves Montand is--uh. Go ahead. You were going to say something? I wanted just the explanation of this number is the story of a man who is in the French army occupation in Germany, and he stay in the closed house. I don't know if what they call it.

Studs Terkel In, in--

Yves Montand

Studs Terkel Speakeasy. Oh, I see. In a speakeasy.

Yves Montand And he stay there, and everything is broken inside to be stay there, [just as?] in this atmosphere with the soldiers, with the people, with the Lola.

Studs Terkel Yes. It's sort of a brothel, I take it.

Yves Montand C'est ca.

Studs Terkel Something like that. And there he is in for protection. No, well, crib is a word of [vulgar?], that's a New Orleans word, but this is the brothel, the universal word, and here then this drama. [pause in recording] As we listen to this, again we come to something you said earlier, other aspects that some of the songs are humorous, humorous and this one about the cigar, smoking the cigar.

Yves Montand Ah, oui, "Fumer Le Cigare".

Studs Terkel [unintelligible] Again we must point out, there you were, well, tell me about this song. I have a reaction to it. Tell me about this song.

Yves Montand For this song? Okay, is a guy, is a tramps, if you wish, who his name is Rockefeller, is call him, his name is Rockefeller, and we start, and he say, oh, is very wonderful to smoke cigar, just relax, playing guitar and drink rum, and especially when the name, my name is Rockefeller. Do you see the people laugh there, once they [over?], yes, I'm go travel in the car with a Cadillac and so and so. But now the second chorus is yes, this is true. We realize he is tramps in the station without not too much train come down, and the, under a paletuvier, I don't know what to call, under a tree.

Michelle Viand Under an exotic tree.

Yves Montand Under an exotic tree, and, well, why I'm going to be worried, worried by myself when my name is Rockefeller? Is that say, see like this, and in the end he said the same thing. "I have not to be troubled because my name is Rockefeller." Is not the big [unintelligible].

Studs Terkel It's a sardonic song, at the same time there's a nice ease to the whole thing and I think we should point out in seeing you on the stage, there you are, we see the guitar, we see the drinks, we see a man on the road just enjoying it so much. Again, this is your particular art, so "Fumer Le Cigare".

Yves Montand That's it, "Fumer Le Cigare", small cigar. C'est bien parce-qu'il filme une diversion. You do very good diversion about the number.

Studs Terkel As we hear this song, I was thinking, I remember my thought, I was in the balcony, 'way up in the last row watching you do this, I think I was saying, I says, "You know, the complete way we're captivated by that, we read of jazz musicians in America smoking marijuana cigarettes, or they take certain stimulants, you know, so they could be high, here are you, the artist. You are so good. We're high without marijuana. Do you know what I mean? You see, we felt, we feel stimulated by your particular art, you know.

Yves Montand Merci, monsieur. Thank you.

Studs Terkel An observation, this is a compliment, but I meant it as an observation. So we go again with the variety. Oh, we come to, I think this is my, almost my favorite number, this next one. Yes. This one here: "Les Saltimbanques", Saltimbanques. Now these are

Yves Montand

Studs Terkel "Saltimbanques". Now these are the wandering acrobats of this?

Yves Montand Yes, a very, very small little circle with one bear and one monkey and just maybe four or five or six person. And like, if you wish, like two or three centuries ago and he wrote by Guillaume Apollinaire. The words were just marvelous, very short. In this case I say it twice. One just for the words, the second I mime, but this baladins, we call the "Baladins Saltimbanques Deux." If you wish, is the personage of this baladins are what Picasso painter (sic).

Studs Terkel I was just about to ask you, see, in seeing this, we saw the Picasso, did Picasso ever see you do this?

Yves Montand Yes, I know very well him.

Studs Terkel What are his reactions when he sees you do this?

Yves Montand Well, he like very much this song because it is in my opinion is the spirit to whats he give in one painter.

Studs Terkel Painting?

Yves Montand With these very thin saltimbanques with the child in the--Sor

Michelle Viand

Studs Terkel

Yves Montand la boule, comment appelle-ca? On the ball? On the ball, yes. That's it.

Studs Terkel As you--I want to--before you would describe the way you do this, you saw the Picasso painting of the Saltimbanques. Does this influence your doing it?

Yves Montand Well, I don't think so. Maybe my subconscion (sic) make our [unintelligible] this thing and in fact I didn't try to give these [eke him?] like these because the poem of Guillaume Apollinaire is in a connection with Picasso, one Picasso painting.

Studs Terkel Yeah. There's this, I think we should point out in this song you do everything. I mean, it's in the song and this act. Here you do the handstands, acrobatics, somersaults.

Yves Montand Yes, because I speak about acrobat and everything, so let me see the acrobat. Otherwise, you know.

Studs Terkel So you do it.

Yves Montand I'm try to do, yes.

Studs Terkel Well, of course, a question that must come up. How, after you do your somersaults.

Yves Montand

Studs Terkel

Yves Montand Yeah. Without you still sing. Now, isn't there-- This is a big gift. This, I think, is the technique. I have, every day I make some training for this, and I make the barre like the dancer in the opera every day, yes. Ten minutes every day and after this, this pirouette, you say pirouette?

Studs Terkel

Yves Montand Pirouette or somersault, this was. That is it, eh? Have some discipline of the breath, but this very tough.

Studs Terkel Yes, you do, this is the keeping your training like an athlete, like a prizefighter. But the song, I think, what's impresses us all about this song, here is almost the whole human comedy in this. You do the acrobat. You do the magician, you do the, you do all these, and yet, with a wistfulness, there's a sadness, there's a melancholy, a sort of the homeless actors, this idea. You know the, did you follow that?

Yves Montand I give this everything.

Studs Terkel Yeah, this all comes out.

Michelle Viand Tous les acrobats,

Studs Terkel

Michelle Viand

Yves Montand les danceurs, [French]. The melancholy. [French], le melancolie de tous-- Yes, because it is true, I mean I try to, I mean, it's true--I'm sorry I said it about melancholy--I said, because when people give to you very big joys in the same time you are already a little bit melancholy because the joy, she's gone. When they go, they gone. They go, we still a little

Studs Terkel bit melancholy. Almost has a--

Yves Montand The fiesta is finished.

Studs Terkel Yes, almost there's a Chaplin quality to it. Almost a Chaplin.

Yves Montand A little bit.

Studs Terkel A Chaplin. There's another one that has a Chaplin quality, I'll ask you about later, about the boy dancing. We may just change this tape.