marks the 70th birthday of Françoise Hardy (on Jan. 17th) with guestposts, special covers (just wait) and exposés like this one, by Mark Sullivan:
1962 has been called the year that the modern world began – the year of space flight and satellites, the Cuba Crisis, the first Beatles record (Love me do) – and the year that the modern woman appeared in the form of Françoise Hardy. In France it was the year of OAS terrorism, departure from Algeria, the emigration of the pied-noirs, and the completion of the Fifth Republic by direct election of the President. On 28 October 1962, a referendum to approve that change was held, the same day that the end of the Cuba Crisis was announced. This meant that the then single-channel French TV was being watched that night by more than the usual audience. In an interval between voting results, Françoise Hardy sang live her new song, ‘Tous les garçons et les filles‘.

While the song had already had some sales and airplay, this national publicity rocketed her EP of four tracks to the top of the charts. By summer 1963 it had sold 2 million. Good luck and an international crisis added to the skill and talent of Françoise had made her a star.

Françoise’s first TV appearance was in February 1962, on ‘La Petite Conservatoire de la Chanson’, run by Mireille Hartush. This is a quite remarkable piece of historic film, showing that she had everything from the start – charm, beauty, reticence, composing skill and a fine voice. She sang ‘La fille avec toi’ and there is some wonderful conversation with Mireille before and after the song, including about ‘ye-ye’ and her style of dress.

When ‘Tous les garçons’ was recorded, Françoise had been required to use Vogue Records’ in-house arranger Roger Samyn, whose musicians produced the somewhat clunky accompaniment (and who got his name on the record as joint composer, when he wasn’t). Francoise’s solo performance in September 1962, when she aoppeared again on Mireille’s programme conveys her original idea and remains the most personal version.

CS505661-01A-BIGBy February 1963, she was a national figure, though her fashion style had yet to emerge. In the winter 1962-63, her publicity photos show her in a famously drab coat, but she was still a remarkable new star, with her long hair and tall thin frame. On 3 February took place her first major concert, at the Olympia in Paris. Stills from it and another concert have survived, and are matched with the Europe 1 live transmission, very recently been placed on the internet.
The songs Françoise performed were “Ça a raté”, “J’ai jeté mon cœur”, “J’suis d’accord”, “Ton meilleur ami” et “Tous les garçons et les filles”. And here the live ‘Tous les garçons’, with an orchestra out of sight, sounds better than on the standard record (it starts at 8m35s).

Videos of the classic song use the Hardy-Samyn 1962 recording, and this continues to be the version that appear on CDs and Itunes to this day. Film of Françoise’s live performances of ‘Tous les garçons’ in 1964 and 1965 have not been kept, but she was finally able to present live a fully-orchestrated version of her own in April 1966 at the Palmarès des Hits.

One can imagine that this is the version that Françoise would like to be put in a time capsule.

Françoise in modern interviews has rather disparaged ‘Tous les garçons’, calling it ‘trite’ – and one can understand that she would have preferred not to have recorded the English-language version, which is (and which you won’t find here!). Her 1963 Italian version, ‘Quelli della mia eta’ is however excellent.

‘Tous les garcons’ was certain to attact cover versions. The Eurythmics cover (1985) on CD is quite good, with Annie Lennox aiming at a good French accent, and it has a fine ending (here)
But their live version becomes ever more burlesque as it proceeds, Annie Lennox loses her French accent, and the song is not finished. The song’s whole conclusion with the famous lines. It is Coeur de Pirate (Béatrice Martin), a singer who has spoken about how Françoise Hardy has influenced her, who has made the most effective 21st century cover, here.
Filmed in 2010 for a ‘back-to-the-future’ type time-travel TV series in Québec called ‘Les Rescapés’, and having been watched 1½ million times, this performance by the best popular writer-singer of the present generation reminds us how fine this historic song was, and is.

From the comments, this is a great Tous les garçons cover as well, by Le Prince Miiaou:

Written by guuzbourg

French girls, singing. No, sighing. Making me sigh. Ah.

This article has 4 comments

  1. marksl

    The new interpretation of ‘Tous les garçons’ by Le Prince Miiaou is a real achievement, bringing this classic song into the 21st century. The imagery is brilliant and memorable. It is a world away from the original, now very dated, arrangement on the 1962 EP that Françoise Hardy had to accept from Vogue Records.

    Le Prince Miiaou is the stage name taken by the aristocratic-sounding Maud-Élisa Manteau, who was given a full session on Le Figaro ‘LeLive’ in 2012 (which does not include ‘Tous les garçons’). See
    An interview with Maud-Élisa commences at 4m40s in this 21 min length film.

    Le Prince Miiaou’s version is a studio recording with a video, and could be difficult to reproduce on stage. By contrast, a factor is favour of Coeur de Pirate’s version of ‘Tous les garçons’ is that it is live – filmed for the concluding credits of the Québec TV series ‘Les Rescapés’ in 2010.

    CdP’s interpretation has been attracting both praise and criticism from Youtube viewers ever since Béatrice Martin posted it three years ago (it was put onto Youtube by her management, not by a fan).

    But with over 1½ million hits, though, the CdP cover of ‘Tous les garçons’ is certainly popular. One can imagine the intelligent and ever-positive Béatrice welcoming the controversy, because it keeps people talking about her…. However, she has not yet performed the song at her concerts.

    There is incidentally a third, short, clip from INA of Françoise Hardy at La Petite Conservatoire de la Chanson, of June 1962. See
    Francoise shows her new EP of four songs to Mireille, and assures her that she is happy with with the musical arrangement. This she had to say at the time, but we know now that she was not. One can understand why Le Prince Miiaou’s new interpretation of ‘Tous les garçons’ has really pleased Françoise, 50 years on.

  2. Lewis Francis

    The Mireille’s program clip is so wonderfully enchanting. sigh.

  3. Lewis Francis

    I really enjoy Béatrice’s version, but Le Prince Miiaou’s version — wow!

  4. Bouscram

    I really can’t agree with you concerning Cœur de Pirate’s cover, which I really find awful. The best for me is Le Prince Miiaou’s version ( which is a reel gem!
    F. Hardy seems to appreciate it also, as she invited her to perform on an event on Radio France a while ago.