Saturday, September 15, 2007

More French pop

Photo: liluna

Il N'y A Pas D'Amour Heureux - Françoise Hardy

Poet, socialist and one-time Surrealist Louis Aragon likely wrote the refrain il ny'a pas d'amour heureux (essentially, there's no happiness in love) stoic and shrugging and what-can-you-do. But Françoise Hardy sings his scribble (and Georges Bressons' music) with thin skin and handkerchiefs. That the song's sentimental aesthetic -- its lambent flickered piano line, its coos and sighs -- isn't artificial or cloying attests to a) Hardy's star power, and b) paradoxically, the sentimental aesthetic. See, done right, this sort of thing achieves, in the words of Debussy (in a slightly different context--talking about the French art song, mélodie) "a clarity of expression, precision and concentration of form [which are] qualities peculiar to the French genius." Expertly executed, as, say, the genre paintings of Greuze, sentimentality draws you and your empathy into its warm circle of woe and joy, temporarily disarms your critical faculties. Opens you to an otherwise inaccessible beauty.

From Ma Jeunesse Fout Le Camp (Amazon, iTunes)

Also nice: Liz Green, "French Singer" (Myspace stream)


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