I bought this album out of nostalgia, as Françoise Hardy's song 'Tous les garçons et les filles' was a frequent item on the radio when I was growing up in France. And what an excellent buy it was, as I rediscovered - or perhaps more accurately discovered - the gem that is Françoise Hardy.
If you like Jane Birkin, there's a good chance you will like this CD. If you have no idea who Françoise Hardy is, or what she sounds like, check out her beautiful website where you can hear extracts of songs spanning her whole career.
This CD is a very good introduction to Françoise Hardy's work, as it contains a collection of her early love songs. In 22 songs, you will be under the spell of this enchantress. Three songs are in English, two in Italian, and the rest is of course in French. Being French, I sometimes wonder what the big deal is in this country about listening to foreign language songs. In France (and probably in most of Europe), English language songs are heard - and enjoyed - all the time on the radio, TV, etc. In fact, I believe the Beatles were instrumental in making a whole generation of Europeans want to speak English, so they could understand the songs. Anyway, I tried to put myself in the British public's socks (what a strange image!) and wondered how the language thing would affect people in this country listening to the songs. That's actually quite a difficult thing to work out, so I asked my husband instead. He doesn't speak any French at all but he really likes this CD. In fact, he said that the songs that are translated sound better in the French version. For any of you that are learning French, it is worth noting that Françoise Hardy's diction is very easy to grasp.
Considering the number of songs included in the album, I will not give a detailed review of each, just mention the ones I particularly enjoy, as reading a lengthy review about an artist you have not heard of (I am guessing that will be the case for most people) could be a little boring. Furthermore, most of the songs are of a similar type and I should be able to give you the flavour of the album through a few songs.
*Ce Petit Coeur*
This song is about being in love with someone who is self-obsessed and basically not interested (I very much doubt this ever happened to Françoise as she is, in the words of my husband, a babe). There is a real French pop feel to this 1965 offering. With its simple melody and unadorned backing, this is light as a feather and reminiscent of more innocent days. You can hear an English version near the end of this CD ('This little heart'); personally I prefer the French version.
*Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux*
This is a famous poem by Aragon (a significant French poet and resistant), put to music by Georges Brassens (a very important singer-song-writer in France, little known in this country). 'Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux' means 'there is no love that's lucky' (or happy), and it is quite a reflective song. Françoise's version replaces the simple guitar accompaniment of the original with a beautiful piano arpeggio, and her voice is perfectly suited to the sad theme of the song.
*Mon amie la rose*
A song about the brevity of human life, like the rose, beautiful one day, faded the next The CD also includes the Italian version 'La tua mano'.
*Tous les garçons et les filles*
Probably her best known song in France, this was originally a B side track, which went on to sell 2 million copies. It was later covered by Eurythmic. She wrote the lyrics to this teenage lament along the lines: all the other boys and girls my age go around in pairs, whilst I wander the streets alone. I have to warn you about this song, you will be humming it at unexpected time, as the melody is highly 'singable'. The title is reprised further in English 'Find me a boy'. Again, the French version is superior.
A beautiful ballad about friendship.
*La maison où j'ai grandi*
Looking back at the past, the title means 'the house where I grew up'. It starts with Françoise singing alone, then accompanying herself on the guitar, then builds up to full orchestral accompaniment as the tempo increases. Another wonderful melody.
*Le temps de l'amour*
Françoise's husband and longtime companion Jacques Dutronc was involved in the composition of this song, which is about the way that at 20 we feel we are king of the world, and that love is going to last forever. The song feels like a slightly slowed down twist.
*Ma jeunesse fout le camp*
A touching song inspired by an old folk song, about the ephemeral quality of youth. (Can I see a theme appearing here?)
*Parlami di te*
This is a song that allows me to have an idea of how the album might be received by a non French-speaking public. I don't understand Italian, yet I find myself captivated by Françoise Hardy's voice. I'm guessing the title means 'tell me about you'.
Overall, I love this album and its lovely melancholy tones, for which Françoise Hardy's voice is so suitable. The only small criticism I have is the insertion of English versions of songs already included in French, and the meagre offering in terms of information on the CD itself, with only a list of the songs and a very brief biography. I would have liked to have seen the lyrics of some of the songs collated into a booklet.
Available for £4.99 at www.101cd.com
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Ce Petit Coeur
2 Il N'y A Pas D'amour Heureux
3 Mon Amie La Rose
4 Tout Les Garcons Et Les Filles
6 La Maison Ou J'ai Grand
7 La Temps Da L'amour
8 Il Est Des Chose
9 Ma Jeunesse Fout Le Camp
10 Ton Meilleur Ami
12 Parlami Di Te
13 J'ai Jete Mon Coeur
14 Autumn Rendez Vous
15 La Tua Mano
16 C'est A L'amour Auquel Je Pense
17 Je Ne Suis Pas La Pour Personne
18 Le Premier Bonheur Du Jour
20 Find Me Boy
21 This Little Heart
22 All Over The World