‘What a person sings,’ Françoise Hardy once said, ‘is an expression of what they are.’ Hardy, the acclaimed chanteuse, used sadness and light to turn the pop ballad into an art form.
In front of the ‘Pusterla dei Fabbri’ in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio, Milan, in the 1960s. (Photo by Mondadori via Getty Images)

On the evening of May 24, 1966, his 25th birthday, Bob Dylan was due to play his first concert in Paris. But there was a slight hitch: he was refusing to take to the stage of the Olympia theatre unless Françoise Hardy came to see him immediately. Though he’d never met her, he’d already penned a Beat poem tribute to her on the sleeve of his fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan (“for francoise hardy/at the seine’s edge/a giant shadow/of notre-dame/seeks t’ grab my foot/sorbonne students/whirl by on thin bicycles... ”) Hardy obliged, and the gig went ahead. Later, she went with Johnny Hallyday to a gathering at Dylan’s suite at the Hotel Georges-Cinq, where Dylan beckoned her into his bedroom, placed an advance copy of Blonde on Blonde on a turntable, and played her two songs: I Want You and Just Like a Woman. “His meaning could not have been clearer,” she later told The Guardian. “But I was too busy listening intently to the songs, which sounded entirely different to anything I had heard before.”


    Stuart Husband


    February 2022


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