Henri Salvador: Monsieur Joie de Vivre (et Comédie) – by Adam Thometz

Hey, all! It’s been a long time since a blog post has been made here. I can’t speak for the other contributors but I’ve been waist-deep in paperwork for my last semester of college! I’m not done yet but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. When I’m out, I’ll make a better effort to contribute. Unfortunately, I’m still knee-deep in work and this entry is being done largely out of procrastination so it will be short and sweet.

Here is something that I’ve come across entirely by chance: Henri Salvador. Salvador was born in French Guiana in 1917 and learned how to play guitar by imitating Django Reinhardt records. He started out by accompanying other guitarists but went on to have his own (really long and really diverse) career, from the 30’s until his death in 2008. He had recorded some of the first French rock and roll songs but he had stated that he does not like the genre and he often refused to discuss it. It is said that his song “Dans mon île” was a huge influence on Antônio Carlos Jobim, who, in turn, formulated the bossa nova style. In the 60’s, Salvador had a string of novelty hits, including songs like “Zorro est arrivé”, “Venuise”, “Juanita Banana”, and many others. In the 70’s, he became a children’s singer whose gimmick involved Disney films. Personally, I don’t really like music like what Salvador usually writes; I think that albums of his like Chambre avec Vue are way too sappy for my taste. But his novelty song output is just too much fun to ignore. His novelty songs are so perfectly mad and the video editing is hilarious.

He is still popular in the Francophone world and in Brazil. He was awarded the Brazilian Order of Cultural Merit in 2005 for his influence on bossa nova. His nickname in France is “Monsieur Joie de Vivre.”

Here are a few of his songs, all comedic and perfectly cornball:

“Zorro est arrivé”, which is considered to be a hit for him. This was basically an adaption of “Along Came Jones” by The Coasters):


“Juanita Banana”, which took me a while to get over:


“Le Martien”:


I’m getting back to work.


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