December 16, 2010

The Music of Francoise Hardy, "The ideal woman"

Joe Strummer first introduced me to Francoise Hardy through his personally curated BBC radio program London Calling. A French model and singer, Hardy was perhaps known as much for her looks as her voice. But that doesn't mean the music isn't great. There's an intoxicating charm and subtlty to her songs—especially those from the late 1960s—that create an atmosphere in turns soothing, playful and melancholic. Although Hardy's voice does not have the androgynous quality of Nico's, there's nevertheless a certain similarity: songs dominated by a singular personality, simple vocal melodies that never force the singer to rise or fall out of their comfort zone, and gorgeous professionally-executed background instrumentation that can be vibrantly lush or delicate and sparse.

Bob Dylan, although he had not yet met Hardy, wrote a poem to her in the liner notes to Another Side of Bob Dylan. The two would eventually meet in 1966 when Dylan played a concert in Paris. He invited her to accompany him to back to his hotel room at the George V after the show. "I had no interest in him as a man, only as an artist," she later told The Telegraph in 2005. "He took me to his hotel room after inviting me to a show in Paris, and played me two tracks he hadn't yet released, 'I Want You' and 'Just Like a Woman,' but he wasn't a very attractive man, and didn't seem well in himself." Apparently the Stones' Mick Jagger, who famously called Hardy "the ideal woman," was more her type. "Jagger was different. He is someone I could really have fallen for. Unfortunately, he was with Chrissie Shrimpton at the time." Personally, if Bob Dylan had sung "I Want You" to me in a Paris hotel room, I would have dropped trou right on the spot.

at the seine's edge
a giant shadow
of notre dame
seeks t' grab my foot
sorbonne students
whirl by on thin bicycles
swirlin' lifelike colors of leather spin
the breeze yawns food
far from the bellies
of erhard meetin' johnson
piles of lovers
lay themselves on their books. boats.
old men
clothed in curly mustaches
float on the benches
blankets of tourists
in bright red nylon shirts
with straw hats of ambassadors

Francoise Hardy - "L'anmour" (from Comment Te Dire Adieu)
Francoise Hardy - "Ca a Raté" (from The Yeh-Yeh Girl From Paris)

Françoise Hardy


  1. I love Françoise Hardy, she is the woman of my dreams.

  2. I too found out about Francoise Hardy thanks to the great Joe Strummer back a few years ago when here in the US they re-aired the radio shows that he had done for the BBC. I can still remember that first time I heard Tous Les Garcons and I just instantly fell in love with her and her music.