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World Music. African Traditional. Indian Ocean. Cocteau wrote that when Trenet sang, "He was so young, so fresh that the bar yielded to a rustic decor, the projectors became the stiff branches of a cherry tree, the microphone a hollyhock, the piano a cow. In , Que reste-t-il de nos amours? Trenet never officially retired. In , he brought out a CD, Fais ta vie, with 12 new songs on it. Although he lived in Aix-en-Provence, Colette referred to him as "the provincial genius who gives lessons in happiness to Paris". But, by June , Jews were prohibited from performing on stage and banned from entering a theatre.
When, in honour of his 80th birthday, Paris staged a three-day marathon, with 70 singers performing of his songs, no one wanted to be reminded of the past of their favourite fou chantant crazy singer. His wartime collaboration was dismissed as innocent and minor. In fact, following the fall of France, the year-old Trenet got himself demobbed on the grounds of being a "Farmer: Has to return to his land to plant potatoes" - a crucial occupation for Vichy France - and clandestinely headed straight back to recoup his fame in occupied Paris.
His biographer, Richard Cannavo, claimed that he "never compromised himself in any way". But, while Trenet never lent himself to blatant propaganda by appearing at fascist rallies, his behaviour was not so innocent. When Paris newspapers reported he was a Jew and the son of a rabbi, he produced four generations of his parish records to prove he had no Jewish blood. Later, his agent was said to carry Trenet's birth certificate when negotiating contracts. Trenet was forgiven partly because of his psychological make-up and partly because show business could be regarded as the kindergarten of French politics, whose naughty inhabitants were to be indulged.
Charles Trenet, who has died aged 87, was the most influential popular French songwriter of the midth century.