On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Francoise Hardy – Tous les garcons et les filles (1962)
Time to leave the US behind today and cross the Atlantic to mainland Europe. Upon arrival, we land safely in France. Always nice to be back here. In the early 1960s a new and popular form of music was on the rise in France known as ye-ye (yeah-yeah) and the likes of Serge Gainsbourg (who we have seen already on this list) helped the genre along. Another key name in this movement is our host today – Francoise Hardy – and her featured song in our 1001 list is one of her earliest efforts – Tous les garcons et les filles.
Tous les garcons et les filles translates as All the Boys and Girls and, as you have guessed already, my five years of GCSE French at secondary school were of no use when it came to a translation. I am useless. I had to find an alternative to understand what Hardy is singing about. Hardy takes on the role of a narrator who is wandering the streets and everywhere she looks are boys and girls, hand in hand, dreaming of what life will bring for them in the future. They are in love, at ease in life and have no worries or constraints. Hardy, on the other hand, is alone with no one to love her and having all these couples around doesn’t help. She looks on with envy at the happiness these couples have and wonders when the day will come that she finds someone to love as well, so that she can be lost amongst the crowd of boys and girls and not to stand out from the crowd.
Francoise Hardy has had a long and distinguished career not just in music but branching out into other forms of writing, as well as becoming a music, fashion and gay icon as well. I did enjoy Tous les garcons et les filles, especially when I delved further into the lyrics. For some reason the idea of a lone woman wandering and watching couples go by made me think of one of Morrissey’s many laments in The Smiths’ Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. Not sure why. Hardy captures the loneliness and uncertainty that can come for some people with being single, but not for everyone of course. Again, as previously observed, it’s interesting to see the plethora of genres emerging from different countries as we continue our musical journey.
Favourite songs so far:
Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line (1956)
Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode (1958)
Ritchie Valens – La Bamba (1958)
Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)
Peggy Lee – Fever (1958)
The Everly Brothers – All I Have to Do Is Dream (1958)
The Shirelles – Will You Love Me Tomorrow (1960)
Edith Piaf – Non, je ne regrette rien (1960)
Ben E. King – Stand By Me (1961)