Mono and Light In The Attic Presents… An evening with FRANÇOISE HARDY

Francoise Hardy1

Featuring LITA’s latest reissue series of Hardy’s first five French-language albums she released yearly between 1962-1966. Including Tous Le Garçons Et Les Filles, Le Premier Bonheur Du Jour, Mon Amie La Rose, L’Amitie and La Maison Ou J’Ai Grandi.

Between 1962 and 1966, Françoise Hardy released one French-language album per year. Each was eponymously titled and was collected from a series of contemporary four-track, seven-inch, picture-sleeve EPs–pop music’s main format in France, known as le super 45. In them, we see the maturing of one of the decade’s most singular talents– a pop singer with the heart of a chanteuse, a singer-songwriter in an age before such a thing was known, and a style icon who valued privacy and modesty.

Raised by her mother in Paris, Hardy’s upbringing was strict, and she notes today, “a very, very shy person.” Records and Radio Luxembourg provided escape and inspiration–her two loves were Chanson Française, the Gallic style of Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour, and rock‘n’roll. Sent to The Sorbonne to study political sciences, Hardy instead pursued a career as a singer, auditioning for a number of labels before Johnny Hallyday’s Disques Vogue snapped her up, intending to market her as a female rocker, Hardy had other ideas and was determined to record her own songs.

In Hardy’s 1962 French speaking album debut, Tous Les Garçons Et Les Filles, she sang about being a soul in torment, and this is the Hardy that emerged–a complicated, pensive outsider, part pop singer, part chanteuse, and utterly unique. The following year in 1963, Hardy released, Le Premier Bonheur Du Jour. On the album itself, the sound had changed in line with Hardy’s solidifying vision and voice; where Tous Les Garçons Et Les Filles was produced by a series of collaborators who struggled to understand her style, Le Premier Bonheur Du Jour gave fans the most significant insight so far into the identity of Françoise Hardy. She was a rare thing: a singer-songwriter with heaps of her own material but not a folk singer in any sense. Hers was pop music that took the weight of chanson on its shoulders.

Following the French success of her first two albums, 1964 was the year Hardy went truly international. Hardy recorded her third album, Mon Amie La Rose and ventured to Britain working with arranger Charles Blackwell, a former protégé of Joe Meek, and his roster of studio musicians, including a pre-Zeppelin, Jimmy Page. Blackwell was the first arranger with whom Hardy was happy, and Mon Amie La Rose was the first album she thought of as more than an afterthought. The result is a unique hybrid of pop, chanson, and soul. This was also the year Bob Dylan dedicated a poem to her on the sleeve of Another Side

In 1965 Hardy released album number four, L’Amitié, where her celebrity was rapidly growing–at odds with her natural shyness. L’Amitié, with its evocative, close-up album cover and late-night sound, is the result. A new era was beginning, and Hardy’s music was traveling further than ever. She’d hung out with The Beatles and The Stones, played high-profile shows in London, established a working relationship with British producer Charles Blackwell, and appeared in the film What’s New Pussycat? She was also a fashion icon seen in the pages of Marie Claire and Vogue and on the cover of Elle.

Hardy’s fifth album, La Maison Ou J’Ai Grandi released in 1966, was a collection of English-language recordings. The focus was back on her home market in France, where things were changing quickly. 1966 was the year Hardy met Dylan, who demanded an audience with her at his Paris gig and later performed for her at a party. Hardy admits, “It was only later that it occurred to me that he was singing ‘I Want You’ because he actually wanted me.” As La Maison Ou J’Ai Grandi proved, Hardy’s world was perfect and fleshed out and set–five albums in, she had a sound, mood, and feel all her own.

We will play Hardy’s five reissued albums back to back from 7pm. Please join us for a night of wonderful music from this illusive songstress and icon.