Singers: The Bear of Montparnasse

He looks like a big shaggy beast that has been out in the rain. Rumpled suit, tangled hair, drooping moustache, he lumbers onto the stage and stares in shy bewilderment at the audience. Rivulets of sweat stream down his face. He hikes one stumpy leg onto a straight-back chair, lazily scratches his guitar and sings. The voice is honest, pleasant, but nothing special. Yet when Georges Brassens sings, all Paris cocks an ear.

Laughless Days. Brassens, 43, known around Montparnasse as the "Bear," comes out of seclusion to sing only three months out of the year. Last week he was...

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