Barbara No. 2 LP (Phillips, 1965)
Born Monique Serf, Barbara is one of France's legendary singers. Only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Paris, her family (of Jewish ethnicity) was forced to go into hiding. As if dodging Germans wasn't bad enough, she also spent her childhood being molested by her father. As a teen she ran away to Belgium and fell in with artists and musicians, where she was to hone her craft. A tall woman, she dressed in black robes and sung songs of loss. At first she was panned by critics as being stiff and not a whole hell a lot of fun, she kept on. Her persistence resulted in some remarkable recordings, a lifelong friendship with Jacques Brel, and, ultimately, being held up as a French music icon.
I found this record in a thrift store in the US for one dollar bill. Brought it home and was floored by the first song, "Le Mal de Vivre," considered a classic. You don't even have to know that the song's title translates to "Life is Pain" in order to pick up that she's not having a good time. No matter the song is so great it makes me want to break up with someone so I can have an excuse to listen to it all day. I don't think Barbara did a better song, but I am gonna leave you a few, just because they are good, too.