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Word Count: 940
Over the past twenty-five years French singer-songwriter Renaud has emerged as his countrys leading exponent of chanson sociale a rich and diverse tradition of popular song which has helped to rally educate and galvanise dispossessed groups in French society since the first half of the nineteenth century Renaud became well-known in the second half of the 1970s by singing about zonards delinquent youths from the housing estates of suburban Paris Since then he has tackled a range of themes from military service and heroin addiction to the destruction of the environment and capitalist imperialism in the Third World His repertoire includes love songs chansons idiotes a comical risqu genre traditional chansons ralistes from the Belle Epoque and interwar years and songs by his idol Georges Brassens1 He has produced a series of charmingly naive illustrations to accompany his own songs He has also performed as an actor most notably in the role of Etienne Lantier in Claude Berrys 1993 screen adaptation of Zolas Germinal He has written a childrens book entitled La Petite vague qui avait le mal de mer 1989 as well as a regular column for the satirical left-wing weekly Charlie-Hebdo An outspoken supporter of numerous minority causes he recently joined the Rgions et Peuples Solidaires list led by the Corsican autonomist Max Simeoni at the 1994 European elections Renaud is known primarily for the provocative anarchism and linguistic inventiveness which characterise his songwriting He has roused the ire of politicians on both the Left and the Right Some of his songs have been banned outright others have simply been given little or no airplay However he has achieved spectacular commercial and critical success By 1981 his album sales generated 45 of Polydors annual profits2 His lyrics are studied in university French departments all over the world and were extensively used as a primary source by the authors of the Dictionnaire de largot published by Larousse in 19903 His songs have been turned
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