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Le Large - Françoise Hardy

In 1962, the 18 year old Françoise Hardy's appeared on French television singing the song "La Fille avec toi" from her first album "Tous les garçons et les filles" (see last post). The song opens with the words:

"Oh oh oh,

yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah......"

unwittingly defining a new genre in French pop music, "yé-yé", the genre that for the first time embraced the influences of American and British rock music and became the soundtrack to French youth culture in the sixties. Curiously, although nowadays many people anachronistically think the phrase was lifted from the Beatles hit "She Loves You", Hardy 's tv appearance predated the Beatles' recording session by a full 17 months, uncannily anticipating the refrain that became a worldwide craze. Hardy, who wrote most of her material, can also be seen as a pioneer for later female singer songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Carole King.

Francoise Hardy herself went on to be the personification of what can only be called French romantic melancholia, a sound that at its best is sad while warm and uplifting. As she herself once said “The melodies that move me most, that are the most beautiful, inevitably have an element of melancholy that links us to the divine.”

In 2005 Hardy was diagnosed with cancer, Medical treatment kept the disease at bay until 2015, when it worsened. A reprieve was achieved after she spent a period in an induced coma, and, in 2018, she recorded her final album, her first for six years. Many French artists, when they heard she had returned to the studio, sent her songs especially written for her. One of these was "Le Large" by Sophie Huriaux, aka La Grande Sophie, which Hardy significantly made the penultimate track on the album.

The refrain "quand je prendrai le large" translates as "I will set sail" but the word "le large" also means "the expanse", in this case the expanse of the sea, and, movingly, the unknown. This is a farewell that is brave and dignified as befits an artist who always went her own way, was always her own woman. In the final lines, as she sails into the sunset, there is an echo of the defiance of that other great French chanteuse, of "no regret", of a job well done.

"Aucun requin, aucun air triste,

aucun regret, aucun séisme,

aucune langue de bois,

aucun chaos, aucun, aucun...


Et demain tout ira bien, tout sera loin,

là, au final quand je prendrai le large.

Tout sera loin, donne-moi la main,

là au final quand je prendrai le large"


"No shark, no sad melody,

no regret, no tremor,

no fancy talk,

no chaos, none, none...


and tomorrow all will be well, all will be far away,

there in the end when I sail away.

All will be far away, give me your hand,

there in the end when I sail away."


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