1001 Songs Challenge,  1950s,  Music

1001 Songs Challenge #48: Le Gorille (1952)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!


Georges Brassens – Le Gorille (1952)

Georges Brassens

Georges Charles Brassens ( French pronunciation: ​ [ʒɔʁʒ(ə) ʃaʁl bʁasɛ̃s]; 22 October 1921 – 29 October 1981) was a French singer-songwriter and poet. Now an iconic figure in France, he achieved fame through his elegant songs with their harmonically complex music for voice and guitar and articulate, diverse lyrics.

Lyrics (via Genius)


It’s always nice to visit Europe and having enjoyed Portugal yesterday, we make the short journey through Spain, across the Pyrenees and back for another stop in France. Today’s offering comes from Georges Brassens and is, to put it mildly, a rather unusual song and in its day a rather controversial one as well. You’ll soon understand why. Le Gorille or “the gorilla” is the song in question.

The song has Brassens singing about an escaped gorilla who has an impressive unmentionable on display. Let’s just say I’m not talking about the size of his hands. The gorilla is a virgin and now loose from his cage he is eager to sate his lust and it sounds like anything will do. Crowds run away in fear leaving just an old woman and a judge to face the gorilla. Brassens sings that in this situation he would have chosen the old woman, but the gorilla doesn’t think like a human and duly drags the poor judge out of sight and into some bushes. Brassens can’t describe what goes on from there but you probably get the idea.

Sung in French, Le Gorille required me to use a translation and – goodness me – it wasn’t hard to see why the song caused quite a stir when first released. It even found itself banned on French radio but this did not deter Brassens one bit. The song has a memorable lyric to conclude each verse, “Gare au gorille”, which becomes catchier the more you hear it. What does it mean? “Beware the gorilla,” of course. With this particular gorilla, beware indeed!


Favourite songs so far:

Edith Piaf – La Vie en Rose (1946)

Elmore James – Dust My Broom (1952)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I hope you enjoy your visit to All is Ephemeral.

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