20 June 2016

Françoise Hardy

French singer, actress and astrologer Françoise Hardy (1944) was the original Yé-yé girl with her trademark jeans and leather jacket. She was one of the most popular French music stars of the 1960s, and occasionally appeared in international films. She represented Monaco at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1963, and placed 6th. Nowadays, Françoise Hardy is still an icon of fashion, music and style, and she continues to record albums.

Francoise Hardy
French postcard by Editions Publistar, no. 788. Photo: Nisak.

Francoise Hardy
French postcard by E.D.U.G. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Françoise Hardy
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 283. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Francoise Hardy
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 313. Photo: Sam Lévin.

Françoise Hardy
French postcard by Publistar, no. 858. Photo: Pierre Spitzer / Disques Vogue.

Ultimate Girl-next-door Made Good

Françoise Madeleine Hardy was born in 1944 in Paris. She grew up with her younger sister Michèle Hardy in the 9th arrondissement. Their unmarried mother worked as an assistant accountant. The introvert Françoise was sent to La Bruyère, a rather strict convent school for girls. The tall, thin girl with long legs grew up to be an extremely studious and pious student who found it difficult to overcome her shyness.

On her sixteenth birthday, she received a guitar from her mostly absent father as a reward for passing her baccalaureate. She started to write her own songs in her free time, inspired by the music she heard on the radio. Françoise was a passionate music fan, listening to Georges Guétary’s operettas from an early age, before progressing to French chanson stars Charles Trenet and Cora Vaucaire.

She enrolled at the Petit Conservatoire de Mireille (a legendary 1960s singing school) and at the Political Science Faculty at the Sorbonne. In late 1961 she answered a newspaper advertisement looking for young singers, and Hardy signed her first contract with the record label Vogue at the age of 17. With her shy temperament, her soft voice and her quiet natural beauty, Françoise Hardy was the ultimate girl-next-door made good.

In April 1962, her first record Oh Oh Chéri appeared, written by Johnny Hallyday's habitual writing duo, and three of Françoise’s own compositions including Tous Les Garçons Et Les Filles (All the boys and girls).

This last track greatly impressed Daniel Filipacchi, presenter of Radio Europe’s cult music show Salut les Copains, who went on to play the song almost non-stop. It became a phenomenal box office hit, riding the wave of the Yé-yé (or Yeah-yeah - the French rock and roll craze), with two million sales.

She first appeared on television in 1962 during an interlude in a programme reporting the results of a presidential referendum. The shy Hardy suddenly found herself at the very forefront of the French music scene.

Françoise Hardy
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. ?103. Photo: Vogue.

Francoise Hardy
Dutch postcard by 't Sticht, Utrecht, no. AX 5543.

Francoise Hardy
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam (SPARO). Photo: Vogue.

Françoise Hardy
German postcard by Krüger. Photo: Pierre Spitzer.

Modern Young Trend-setter

Françoise Hardy soon began to appear on the cover of all the top music magazines of the day. During a photo shoot for the magazine Salut les copains, she fell in love with photographer Jean-Marie Perier. Like a Pygmalion, he transformed the young singer from a shy, gauche-looking schoolgirl into a modern young trend-setter.

She made her first film appearance opposite Jean-Louis Trintignant in the comedy Château en Suède/Nutty, Naughty Chateau (Roger Vadim, 1963) based on a novel by Françoise Sagan. According to RFI Musique, "Françoise’s role in the film earned her much acclaim, and many critics declared that a great acting career lay ahead of her".

In the following years, she appeared in an uncredited appearance in the final scene of What's New Pussycat? (Clive Donner, Richard Talmadge, 1965) starring Peter O'Toole, in the leading role of the crime drama Une Balle au Cœur/Devil at My Heels (Jean-Daniel Pollet, 1965) opposite Samy Frey, in a scene from the Nouvelle Vague masterpiece Masculin, féminin (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966) with Jean-Pierre Léaud, and in Grand Prix (John Frankenheimer, 1966) starring James Garner. Other films in which she appeared include Les colombes/The Doves (Jean-Claude Lord, 1972) and the TV musical Émilie jolie (Jean-Christophe Averty, 1980) with Georges Brassens.

Her songs are featured on many film soundtracks. Tous Les Garçons et Les Filles for instance plays during the British film Metroland (Philip Saville, 1997), during The Dreamers (Bernardo Betrtolucci, 2003), and during The Statement (Norman Jewison, 2003) and another song L'Amitié (1965) plays during the end credits of Les Invasions barbares/The Barbarian Invasions (Denys Arcand, 2003) which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Le temps de l'amour can be heard on the soundtracks of Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, 2012) and Trainyard Dogs (Ryan Prince, 2016).

Francoise Hardy
French postcard by Publistar, no. 1362. Photo: Jean-Marie Perier.

Françoise Hardy
French postcard by Starcolor, Marseille, no. 951. Photo: Patrick de Mervellec.

Françoise Hardy
French postcard by Starcolor, Marseille, no. 972. Photo: Jean-Marie Perier.

Françoise Hardy
French postcard by Publistar, Paris, no. 1134. Photo: Jean-Marie Perier.

Françoise Hardy
German postcard by ISV, no. H 132.

Sheer Force of the Emotion

Françoise Hardy was not really interested in anything other than her singing career, and it went smoothly. In 1963 her début album had been released to general critical acclaim. That year she also came fifth for Monaco (!) in the Eurovision Song Contest with L'amour s'en va (Love Goes Away), and she was awarded the Grand Prix Du Disque of the Charles Cros Academy.

The following year she set off on an extensive European tour which included an appearance in Italy at the famous San Remo Festival. Here she performed Parla mi di te (Tell me about you). She sings in French, English, Italian, Spanish, and German. In spite of the fact that Hardy's voice was neither extremely powerful nor strikingly unusual, the singer would continue to woo audiences throughout her career with her exceptional lyrics and the sheer force of the emotion which she put into her performances.

In 1981, she married her long-time companion, actor/singer Jacques Dutronc, with whom she had had a son, Thomas Dutronc, in 1973. In 1994, she collaborated with the British pop group Blur for their La Comedie version of To The End, and in 2000, she made a comeback with the album Clair Obscur. Her son played guitar and her husband sang the duet Puisque Vous Partez En Voyage (Till You Leave on a Voyage). Iggy Pop and Étienne Daho also took part.

Françoise Hardy continues her successful career of more than 50 years. In 2010, she released a new album of original material, La Pluie sans parapluie (Rain without an umbrella). In 2012, Hardy marked her 50-year career by publishing her 27th album and the book L'Amour fou. In 2015, after two years of silence, a second book was published under the title Avis non-autorisé... (Unauthorized opinion). In this book, she reflects on old age, her interests and her annoyances. She lives near Paris and although Dutronc lives in Monticello, Corsica, they remain married.

Françoise Hardy sings Tous les garçons et les filles. Source: keaneperson (YouTube). This hilarious and dizzy-making clip was produced by Claude Lelouch in 1963 for Scopitone.

Françoise Hardy sings L'amour s'en va at the Eurovision Contest of 1963. Source: Joao Velada (YouTube).

Francoise Hardy sings Comment te dire adieu (How to say farewell) in 1968. Source: Etoile Matutine (YouTube). This hit song was written by Serge Gainsbourg.

Scene from What's New Pussycat (1965) with Peter O'Toole, Romy Schneider and Peter Sellers. Source: Rocco And Fratelli (YouTube).

Sources: Warren Silbert (Françoise Hardy - All Over the World), Frankenstein (Commencement - French), Radio France Internationale (French), Official Françoise Hardy website (French), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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