Few splendors remain so long in the memory. If the music of the girls yeah yeah was always a joyous flash that dazzled, that of Françoise Hardy it survives as perhaps the most intense due to its sentimental complexity, a whirlpool of past and future nostalgia sung with overwhelming intimacy. Today it seems like one more trifle, but then, back in the sixties of the last century, hearing a song of heartbreak in the mouth of this woman with a sweet and penetrating voice marked a before and after.
Trifle is the word Hardy herself used in the title of her memoirs, The despair of the apes … and other trifles (Polar Expeditions), a very interesting book in which one of the most emblematic voices of French pop uncovers some of the most coveted secrets about his busy life. Sometimes everything is said, with astonishing indifference, as when this desired singer in every corner of the globe dispassionately narrates the loss of virginity. A form of distance from a person who recognizes that he was never good at seducing or liked it. She, thin and elongated with her imperial hair and bangs and her unattainable gaze, which was a luminous icon of the Swimming London and haunted by stars like Mick Jagger, David Bowie or Eric Clapton. Also by Bob Dylan, who placed his record, Tous les garçons et les filles, on the cover of his album Bringing It All Back Home along with other of his favorite LPs.
Minutes turning on what is important: his music. Françoise Hardy never wanted to be anyone’s muse, but rather an interpreter with her own universe. A universe that defined French pop. And the best French pop always seems like a trifle, another trifle for its successful lightness. But don’t let anyone trust you. Those seemingly minimal and undaunted contraptions so perfectly developed by the girls yeah yeahThey are like furtive kisses, digging straight into the heart. They condense all the lightness that really matters. That one that is not forgotten.
As the Rock And Roll in the fifties in America, music ye-ye turned the postwar European mentality upside down. Not only was it novel in its sonic verve, with those arrangements coloring the landscape, but it was the first musical movement led mainly by teenage girls. In this way, the young women of the time were reflected, for the first time, in their idols. They shared a language. And, like that renewed innocence in the cinematic gaze that the Nouvelle vague, music ye-ye he mixed love affairs and sexuality in a journey of personal self-knowledge and rebellion against conservative French petty bourgeois society.
In the mid-sixties an entire army full of great singers emerged, firing sentimental and romantic songs, as if Paris were never enough because perhaps there was never enough for them and they demanded it from a new barricade of freedom and desire: France Gall, Sylvie Vartan, Sheila, Clothilde, Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot… and Françoise Hardy. Yes, she, Hardy, sang more than anyone else from a perspective of “anguished and distressing love”, in her own words. She knew what she was talking about when she shared her life with Jacques Dutronc, a musician and actor of as much cultural scope as she and who from the beginning set the standards for a stormy relationship. Also for the price that many of these young singers ye-ye they had to pay to live in the golden cages of fame, squeezed out of the pop business and reified at all hours.
Today, at 76, Hardy, who was also a model and actress and now recognizes herself as a lover of astrology and quantum physics, has overcome cancer and continues to be a musical reference in France. Because let’s mark the following in red: out of all nostalgia, her latest albums are terrific. She, she says, is more proud of them than of her entire youth. There are three samples about it: La pluie sans parapluie (2010), L’amour fou (2012) and Personne d’autre (2018). As in her memoirs, an intelligent woman is distilled and, of course, hypersensitive, that trifle for many and a fool’s laughingstock that gives them for thinking. There they. It is a virtue – sometimes she condemns – whose brilliance is slow to be forgotten – sometimes never.