"Without him, we all would have become accounting clerks." - Jacques Brel
From a tribute on the Bobby Darin website:
When Charles Trenet passed away in early 2001, France reacted almost as dramatically as America did following Frank Sinatra's death nearly three years earlier: it was a time of national mourning. Tributes filled the TV, and nothing but Trenet songs were heard on the radio.
He was a prophet so honored in his native land that not even the rumors that he was both a homosexual (apparently true) and, far more worrisome, a collaborator with the Nazis during World War II (probably not true, but it's complicated) could temper the national enthusiasm for the man, who was billed as "Le Fou Chantant" (the Singing Fool).
Patrick Bishop, writing in The Telegraph:
The advent of rock and roll dimmed his star, but he was back in 1969 with a concert to celebrate 30 years on the stage. By his last performance, in November 1999, he was established as an official national treasure, and singer-songwriters such as Georges Brassens, Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg acknowledged their debt.
Trenet recognised that his real strength derived from his contact with ordinary life. He once said: "I find my poetry in the street." That view was endorsed by one of his old collaborators, Serge Hureau. He said: "Trenet's death reminds us that he belongs to our collective memory, not like a monument but like the cafe on the corner."
"Trenet - 'The Last Troubador'." - Jean Cocteau
"Without Trenet, French chanson would not be as it is today." - Charles Aznavour.
"Do not publish your poems - sing them!" - Charles Trenet
Charles Trenet (18th May 1913 – 19th February 2001)