Françoise Hardy: ‘I sing about death in a symbolic, even positive way’ 

 

Françoise Hardy was the face of 1960s French pop, with the likes of Dylan and Jagger falling for her enigmatic allure. Now 74, the style icon talks about her new album and why she always sings from the heart

Hardy is reciting the first lines of Serge Gainsbourg’s song La Javanaise for my benefit. We are sitting at a small table in the middle of an otherwise empty room in a stylish Paris hotel. Eyes closed, her hand tracing a repeated arc in the air, she enunciates every word as if teaching a hapless pupil – “J’avoue j’en ai bavé, pas vous…” she intones softly, “Avant d’avoir eu vent de vous…”These seductive lines, she says, are the perfect example of the “sonority” of a song lyric, the elusive element she values above almost all else in her music. “For me, everything begins with the melody,” she says, growing animated. “Without the melody, there can be no words, but I also need this sonority, this poetic sound that the words make when they combine with the melody. This has always been my obsession. I know that I am very limited vocally, but I also know why I am still here – it is purely because I am so selective when finding the melodies.”

 

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