As Sylvie Vartan turns 70, Mark Sullivan chooses five of her most interesting songs from 1980 to the present day.

1.‘Nicholas’ (1980)

By 1980 Sylvie Vartan had developed her live concerts, bringing together yé-yé pop and the stage style of the Folies Bergères. ‘Nicholas’ is a reflection of her departure from Bulgaria and no longer seeing children she had known. Its elegant performance contrasts with the sombre lyrics. See HERE

The original song is Hungarian : ‘Elmegyek’ (I’m leaving’), written and sung by Péter Maté (1976) – the best Budapest popular composer of his day. A fine song itself – see the live version here. Hungarians do warn foreigners who praise the song that ‘Elmegyek’ is so often played at funerals, as it reflects ‘departure’ so well, that it can’t be used much for anything else in Hungary !

2.‘No more tears (enough is enough)’ 1981

This great disco track by Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer is a 1979 studio creation and they never sang it live. The nearest we have is Donna Summer and the Australian singer Tina Arena in 1999. Donna Summer herself is as good as one could hope for,but it is only 4½ minutes long.
Sylvie took on the challenge of performing ‘No more tears’ solo with a full dance routine, using her backing singers as dancers and completing the full-length 8 minute song with impeccable skill. Two live filmed versions exist, both performed in Paris in 1981. Here’s one. And below:

The choreography differs between them, but both are worth watching. No one has tried to match Sylvie’s live version of ‘No more tears’ since, so these two performances should stand for ever.

3. ‘Des heures de désir’ (1984)

‘Wrap your arms around me’ was written in 1983 for Agnetha Faltskog of ABBA for her solo album by British writers Michael Chapman and Holly Knight. Agnetha’s original is good but lacks glamour.
Sylvie took the French version, ‘Des heures de désir’, and made it grander and more elegant (and in the process showed women how they could aspire to look at 40).

Sylvie also made a fine job of the English original, on Spanish TV in 1987.

4. ‘Personne’ (2010)

La Grande Sophie’s success with her 2009 album ‘Des vagues et des ruisseaux’ brought her the opportunity to write songs in 2010 for both Françoise Hardy (‘Mister’) and Sylvie (‘Personne’). LGS’s ‘Personne’ is the most performed of the songs of Sylvie’s 2010 album ‘Soleil Blue’

A finer version on ‘Champs-Elysées’ in January 2010 is [on] here. (Advertising delays the start of this film for 30 seconds.)

5. ‘Signé Sagan’ (2009)

The song-writer Didier Bardelivien wrote ‘Signé Sagan’ to reflect and conjure up for a new century the image of Françoise Sagan, author of ‘Bonjour Tristesse’ and the enfant terrible of 1950s French literature, almost as famous for her love of fast living and fast cars. The choice of Sylvie for the song is inspired. This performance at the Olympia, Paris, is perfectly sung and filmed and deserves to be preserved for future generations who discover both Françoise Sagan and Sylvie Vartan.

A bit of practising between song-writer and singer on ‘Vivement dimanche’ is here

Written by guuzbourg

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

This article has 1 comments

  1. marksl

    Lyrics of ‘Signé Sagan’ by Didier Bardelivien (2009), sung by Sylvie Vartan
    (I hope the lyrics are helpful to those who are intrigued by this song. They are set out across the page to reduce space used)

    Un geste, un frisson de septembre Cette voix que je crois entendre Comme un murmure désenchanté Du Mozart en accéléré

    Les épaules penchées sur un livre La prison des gens vraiment libres Combien de nuits à ses romans Mieux qu´une amie, mieux qu´un amant

    “Un certain sourire” peut-être L´envie d´être ou ne pas être Quelques mots écrits sur le vent Mais d´une plume signée Sagan

    Un verre de whisky, pour quoi faire? Sur le soleil des tapis verts Cette façon de tenir ses gants Cette élégance, éperdument

    Sous la fumée des cigarettes Brûle la vie des marionettes Cette impatience au bout du temps
    La politesse des insolents

    “Aimez-vous Brahms?” nous dit-elle Et cette musique infidèle Quelques phrases écrites en passant Mais d´une plume signée Sagan

    Vivre sa vie à toute allure Une giffle à la literature Des prix comme des bons points d´enfant Souliers d´or et soucis d´argent

    Où vont “Les merveilleux nuages” Au bout du compte, au bout de l´âge Mourir n´est pas si important L’hiver n´arrête pas le printemps

    Et “De guerre lasse”, on s´apprête A quitter les bruits de la fête Ecrire le mot fin, simplement Mais d´une plume signée Sagan D´une plume signée Sagan.