Thursday, June 21, 2007

Françoise Et Moi

When I was a small boy my Dad was a big fan of Reader's Digest box sets. Mail order music long before Amazon, and 'not available in the shops', they usually comprised 8 or so 'easy listening' LPs with glossy, high-production-value sleeves designed to a theme, and expensive inner bags lined with soft cellophane, all presented in numbered order in a robust matching box.

In our house these boxes lay stacked ceremoniously beneath the Grundig 'radiogram', a major item of mock-mahogany furniture with a hinged lid that revealed the turntable and a front door that opened to the radio. They came out on a Sunday morning while the potatoes were roasting for lunch, or occasionally late on a Friday when my parents had friends around 'for dinner'. Very sophisticated. Very Abigail's Party.

From a young age I liked to open these boxes, sniff the new record and glossy photo smell they kept fresh inside and study the LPs for interesting music I might like. You could buy single artist collections (The Carpenters, Andy Williams, Jim Reeves) and my Dad had some of these, but he really favoured the compilations: Wonderful World Of Music, Golden Hit Parade, A Little Night Music. You'd find some real gems on these, in amongst the syrupy orchestral covers of middle-of-the-road standards: Golden Hit Parade pulled together original pop hits from every year from 1960 to 1973 and was the place I first heard and fell in love with The Searchers 'Needles And Pins', Thunderclap Newman's 'Something In The Air' and Zager & Evans 'In The Year 2525' - all the hits of my older brothers' teenage years. And on others I discovered Duke Ellington, Glen Campbell, Herb Alpert (yay! the Tijuana Sound!), Michel Legrand, the themes from The Man From U.N.C.L.E and Peter Gunn - and *sigh* Françoise Hardy....

The song Dad had, on an LP of French artists singing songs in English called Entente Cordiale (!) was 'All Over The World' and I thought at the time that it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever heard. I still do; those breathy, accented vocals so high in the mix (phwoar!), the crisp accompaniment, the sound, and those sad romantic lyrics.

Years later I tracked more Françoise down (in France) and of course by then I knew that she was a legend, an icon of the swinging Parisian sixties, someone Bob Dylan had written poems about (!) ('For Françoise Hardy/At the Seine's edge/A giant shadow of Notre Dame seeks t' grab my foot'...ahem), the Gallic Marianne Faithfull.

And she's still cool now - recording with Blur and Air and that bloke from Placebo and you name it.

But I'll never forget that time I heard 'All Over The World' on Dad's Grundig for the first time.


Françoise Hardy - 'Le Temps De L'Amour' (1962)
Françoise Hardy - 'La Maison Ou J'Ai Grandi' (1966)
FrançoiseHardy- 'Autumn Rendezvous' (1966)

(Françoise is much compiled - see here; her website is here - in French, bien sur - great photos!).


  1. That photo. Oh...

  2. Dreamy Davy, just lovely. Shame those Reader's Digest box-sets now end up in Oxfam (and invariably get thrown out 'cos nobody buys them). I know as i used to work for them.

  3. blimey charlie! you can't do that to someone at this time of the morning.
    i'm going to be unnecessary all day now...

  4. and that one out of bladerunner isn't helping.

  5. Well it's nice to know that you're all appreciating Francoise.

    In some cases, even for her music..

  6. I never realised she was such a minx! I posted her duet with Blur on To The End a while back, which I love, but that's all I knew about her until now.



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