French singer Michel Sardou was born on January 26, 1947. He left school at 16 to work at his father’s cabaret, which is kind of ironic since I use his 1978 hit “En Chantant” to teach the present participle to 16 year olds. He has released over 40 albums, 12 of which have gone to number 1 in France. The most popular of his songs include “La Maladie d’amour” (Love Sickness) and “Les Lacs du Connemara” (The Lakes of Connemara”). He won a Victoire de la Musique in 1987 for “Musulmanes”, in 1990 for record attendance at a concert, and in 1991 as New Male Performer of the Year. He’s also very interested in acting, on stage, the small screen, and movies. In fact, he co-owned a small theatre in Paris for several years. His involvement with political and social causes is no act, however.
Today’s expression, monter au créneau (montay oh craynoh) literally means “to go up on the crenellations” of a fortress. It means to get personally involved in a fight, to put oneself in the line of fire, like Sardou did with his 1968 song “Les Ricains” (Ricains is a dated French short form for Américains). At a time when anti-American sentiment was running high in France due to Vietnam, Sardou went way out on a limb with a song in support of them, reminding everyone of their sacrifices on the Normandy beaches. Charles de Gaulle recommended that the song not be played on the air. The major boost to his career from the controversy was admittedly a nice side benefit. There’s no such thing as bad publicity.