The World

In 1967, a handsome young Frenchman, with shaggy hair and sideburns, recorded a song called “Paris s’eveille” or “Paris Awakens.” His name was Jacques Dutronc. It’s five in the morning, Dutronc sings and Paris is waking up.

“Paris s’eveille” was a mega hit. It was recently voted the best French song of the last half century. So you can imagine the kind of pressure that puts on his son�a musician in his own right.

35-year-old Thomas Dutronc has just released his first CD. This song is called “J’aime plus Paris” – or “I don’t love Paris anymore.” There are too many people in the city, he says, and the sky is too grey. High rents have forced more and more out to the suburbs. Thomas Dutronc says Paris is dead.

Dutronc: “Paris is no more accessible for middle classes. There, we are all like ants in the subways and working, working, but for what? Now you need to have big money and you have people from the suburbs who are kind of angry now. It’s not like in the 60s, so times have changed. It’s not the France I dream of.”

Dutronc has a light, gypsy-jazz style inspired less by his father, and more by the legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt. Dutronc is obsessed with all things Django. His album is called “Comme un manouche sans guitare” – or, like a gypsy without a guitar.

Dutronc: “I love the guitar because the shape reminds me of the woman’s shape, but when I discovered Django, I don’t know it completely amazed me and it changed everything for me.”

Dutronc’s been making the media rounds here in France, as part of a spring tour. But many can’t seem to concentrate on his music. For one thing, he’s a dead ringer for his dad. And then his mom is another French icon, Francoise Hardy. Thomas can scarcely give an interview without being asked about his parents.

Dutronc: “It happens all the time but I’m okay with it. I’ve been always myself a character too. It’s not a problem. It’s just that sometimes it begins a little repetitive, That’s all.”

Dutronc is patient – but he’d much rather talk about his own music – his own style, which is playful and varied. One of his favorite songs on the CD is a tentative, soft number� called ‘Viens dans mon ile’ – or in English, ‘Come into my island.’

Dutronc’s recently won France’s Crystal Globe award for “best male artist” – a prize handed out by critics. But what does his dad think of his music?

Dutronc: “He’s been listening to all the album and he’s very impressed by the text. Because he wasn’t writing his own materials. I am. He had really famous and good writers, but I try to make everything myself.”

Thomas Dutronc is trying to do everything himself. In fact, he didn’t even tell his father he was a recording an album. His dad found out from a photographer. Perhaps a little contrarian and offbeat, but that’s who Thomas Dutronc is — a quirky jazz guitarist with a cute pop album. And for him, that seems to be quite enough.

For The World, I’m Rene Gutel in Paris.

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