lundi 28 mai 2007

David McNeil, du romanesque au roman

David McNeil n’est pas important seulement parce qu’il a écrit Mélissa pour Julien Clerc, ni parce qu’il a été une personnalité majeure de la première « nouvelle chanson française », il y a plus de trente ans (ni même à cause d’Hollywood, que je considère comme une des trois ou quatre meilleures chansons du siècle). C’est aussi un merveilleux raconteur d’histoires sur papier, qui sort de loin en loin des romans à l’imagination grandiose. Voici donc Angie ou les douze mesures d’un blues, promenade entre Paris, l’Allemagne, la Belgique et Londres d’un brave garçon qui ne sait guère gagner sa vie qu’en faisant la manche avec une guitare ou un harmonica. Ses pas épousent ceux du bluesman Memphis Slim en tournée pour croiser ceux des Rolling Stones (« Angie, oh, Angie »), avec une docilité devant le destin qui fait penser au sergent Bourgogne, ce grognard qui raconta sa campagne de Russie comme on raconte une pêche sur l’étang.
Je n’en parlerais pas si ce n’était formidable, d’une liberté étourdissante. Ils sont si rares, les gens de la chanson faisant une échappée fructueuse en littérature… McNeil me disait l’année dernière, à propos de l’écriture romanesque, que « les premières fois que j’ai essayé, ça ne dépassait pas trois pages et j’avais tout dit ». Mais il écrivait déjà des chansons qui auraient laissé secs la plupart des romanciers dès l’attaque du deuxième couplet. Je ne parle pas d’Hollywood pour rien, voilà comment ça commence : « Ma mère dansait dans les bars imitant Jean Harlow/Mon père lançait des poignards au cirque à Buffalo/Puis un jour on m’a dit « go West » alors j’ai pédalé/De New-York à Los Angeles sur un vélo volé ». A part Faulkner, qui saurait faire aussi dense ?
Il faudrait rassembler les chansons d’une vie entière, les chansons qui feraient un Jack London de huit cents pages, les chansons qu’on ne peut résumer sans les perdre, à la manière du Hollywood de David McNeil : Charlie-Jos de Gilles Vigneault, Le Tour du monde de Pierre Mac Orlan pour Juliette Gréco, Gros Jean comme devant des Frères Jacques… Et même Lucie la paysanne de Gérard Delahaye, tant il y a de richesses dites sur une vie de si peu. Mais elles sont rares, donc, les chansons au romanesque aussi fervent, au souffle aussi généreux. C’est pourquoi, sans doute, McNeil écrit des romans, des romans de cent cinquante pages et quelques dizaines de personnages extravagants, parce que, sans doute, il faudrait de trop longs disques.

PS. – Tout ça n’empêche pas qu’on en veuille aux éditions Gallimard de laisser passer deux fois « Bobby Lapointe » avec 2 b.

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Eléonore a dit…

Merci pour ce bel article. David Mc Neil est un auteur à part, épatant de références multiples et d'humour abrupt, et dont j'apprécie encore plus les livres que les chansons. Mentions spéciales pour Tous les bars de Zanzibar, Si je ne suis pas revenu dans 30 ans, prevenez mon ambassade, et les Lettre à Melle Blumenfeld...

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Je partage votre enthousiasme pour l'oeuvre de David Mc Neil. Je joue avec Guy Stroobant qui l'a accompagné au banjo (en concert et sur deux albums). Si les ouïes vous en disent...

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