French pop advertising from the 1960s

As some of you may have noticed I have had a little break from blogging recently.  I can’t say I’m back with a vengeance but here’s a little post with some of the French pop advertisements I have come across in a few of my Mademoiselle Age Tendre and Salut Les Copains magazines:

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This looks like Guy Peellaert Sylvie Vartan artwork for Simon cleansing milk

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France Gall is rehearsing, apparently, with two cute dogs (Problème and Nougat) whilst wearing a “Guitare” dress – a lovely photo but not a fantastic advert in that, at a glance, I’m not sure what it’s selling!

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Stone is wearing her favourite skirt by Gérard Pasquier “Vingt-Ans”, very nice it is too

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Did Sheila really have her own shop?  Looks like she did or at least she had her own clothing range anyway

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Rika Zaraï chose Odilène “the label of the stars” and why not?

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Is this really Sheila?  Well, it looks like Sheila advertising something else – some natural care cream and some make-up remover but can I see an image of the product in the advert? No.  It looks like Sheila is selling a bathrobe or something!

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This looks like more Guy Peellaert style artwork again – this time Christine Delaroche is wearing a Fric Frac outfit that could be purchased at  Gérard Pasquier “Vingt-Ans”

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No one famous this time (I don’t think!) but I like the artwork – very like Peellaert again – this is for Heyraud “Hipnic” shoes.  If you want to be “in” you need to get some Hipnic American-Style shoes – I’ll take a pair of Bingo!

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Who are you, Leonie Lousseau?

I have recently discovered the French singer Léonie but she’s a bit of an enigma so I thought I would try and pull together all of the information I could find out to see if I could discover anything about this wonderful singer. 

I couldn’t find any articles about Léonie in my collection of French music magazines, so I asked my friend and fellow French music fan Matthew Meek if he had anything as a starting place.  Luckily for me Matthew said he had a small article from Salut Les Copains magazine and he sent me this lovely little thing:

Leonie

Her name is Léonie.  Or Léonie Lousseau (according to her EP) or Léonie Angers (according to SLC) or even Martine (according to an anonymous comment on http://lesjuvenilesapposees.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/initials-ll.html).  So that’s clear then?!

Born 8 May 1950 in Saint-Malo.

Back in the early 1970s when she was in SLC she weighed 45kg (7 stone 1 lb) and she was 1.63M in height (approx 5 foot 4”).

The SLC magazine gives her address as 9 square Moncey, 75009 Paris, France – not quite sure why they’d give her address out but there you go!  Anyway, this was about 40 years ago now so I’m pretty sure she’s not there anymore, although you never know…  [Postscript: I have since discovered this is the address for Disques Somethin’ Else, which is a subsidiary of Disques Motors, so there you go!]

She has blue eyes according to SLC and laughs a lot.

She also worked as an artist or designer (dessinatrice) at SLC and MAT according to the SLC article.

She went to high school in Vitry, where her parents lived, and then studied at Sèvres where they had art and music departments.

She posed for some fashion photos.

She acted in some of Charles Matton’s short films – I can’t find these films, or any mention of Léonie in any cast lists, but I am assuming that they could be the ones mentioned here: La Pomme ou l’histoire d’une histoire (1966) and Activités vinicoles dans le Vouvray (1967) and Mai 68 ou les violences policières (1968).  Zouzou was in La Pomme… along with other friends and Matton family members, so it would be great if Léonie was in the film too – I would love to see it in any case but haven’t yet found any footage, just some drawings from the film (which mixes moving image, photography and drawings).  Léonie would have met Charles Matton (aka Gabriel Pasqualini) when he was working on illustrations for MAT.  He’s a really interesting chap with or without the Léonie link – he was a great artist and sculptor and he made amazing miniature reproductions of interiors of studios with the most intricate detail.  He also directed Spermula and did the cover for Sylvie Vartan’s Par Amour, Par Pitié. Check him out and if you find the short films Léonie was in, let me know!

Aside from these short films, Léonie was also in a film I have seen: Paul directed by Diourka Medveczky in 1969.  She’s in a small role alongside some great actors (Bernadette Lafont, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Jean-Pierre Kalfon) – she plays a member of a vegetarian community and I’m pretty sure this is her with short dark hair in the film (hard to tell as the supporting actors are rarely in the frame for very long):

Leonie Paul 1Leonie Paul 2Leonie Paul 3

It’s a film with very little story and hardly any dialogue but the cinematography is beautiful and so the film contains some great images and is a pleasure to watch.  Furthermore, you can get it with English subtitles fairly cheaply on Amazon in the Diourka-Lafont box set.  Diourka Medveczky is also a sculptor, so it seems Léonie liked hanging out with the arty types.

I don’t know whether Léonie was good at networking or whether it was just a coincidence but she worked on another film project with Bernadette Lafont and Jean-Pierre Kalfon in 1973 – Les gants blancs du diable (The White Gloves of the Devil), directed by László Szabó.  This time she wasn’t acting, but she sang a song (Couleurs) on the film’s soundtrack.  The soundtrack was written Karl-Heinz Schäfer – who also worked extensively with Christophe (and other Les Disques Motors artistes, such as Dynastie Crisis) as conductor for strong arrangements – and he went on to work with Léonie again on the Lennon 7”:

leonie_gants_blancs_backleonie_gants_blancs_front leonie_gants_blancs_labelA leonie_gants_blancs_labelBleonie_spanish_frontleonie_spanish_reverseleonie_spanish_labelA_webleonie_spanish_labelB_webLeonie004Leonie001Leonie003Leonie002

In the SLC article Léonie says it was meeting Christophe and Thierry Vincent (ex singer with the group Les Pingouins) that led to her recording her single En Alabama – the article seems to overlook her previous incarnation as Léonie Lousseau and the 1968 EP Je m’en vais faire un tour dans ma campagne:

Leonie Candie001 Leonie Candie002

Dominique Blanc-Francard (who was the bassist with Les Pingouins and brother of Patrice Blanc-Francard “C’est Pop2!”) co-wrote a track with Léonie, Banal, which was the b-side to his solo single C’est beau les mandolines of 1975:

Leonie001

But going back to Léonie Lousseau, I should say that one of the tracks on her 1968 EP was written by Jean-Claude Vannier (Le Cinérama) and he also appeared on the EP with his orchestra as Léonie’s accompaniment.  Léonie must be a lovely lady because he worked with her again in 1971 on the En Alabama 7”, again in 1972 on the Le jardin anglais 7”, and again in 1975 on the So Long, John 7”:

Leonie002Leonie003Leonie004Leonie005Leonie006Leonie007Leonie So Long John001Leonie So Long John002
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Léonie doesn’t seem to have done very much since 1975 but she did appear on some advertising jingles for Eram in 1978, which can be found on the Gotainer Poil à la pub CD from 1990.

Recently another Léonie single from 1979 was “found”  – Elisabetti ­– and you can find out more about this on the Blow Up Doll website here and listen to the A-side here and the B-side here (note the gorgeous photograph of Léonie to accompany the track).

Aside from providing the Elisabetti tracks, the YouTube Channel Maarnie47 also has two TV clips for So Long John and La fleur de serre – massive thanks to Maarnie 47 for sharing these rarities:

Leonie fleur 1 Leonie fleur 2 Leonie fleur 3 Leonie fleur 4 Leonie fleur 5 Leonie so long john 1 Leonie so long john 2 Leonie so long john 3

But what else do we know about Léonie?  Having written lyrics for Christophe’s Main dans la main and Good Bye, je reviendrai in the earlier 1970s, I have also read elsewhere that Léonie wrote lyrics for the b-side (Les Echevelées) of a Philippe Lavil single Heure Locale in 1976.

She has also, supposedly, provided inspiration for others as she is said to be La fille de la véranda from the song written by Étienne Roda-Gil for Julien Clerc   – Roda-Gil had co-written Wahala Manitou for Léonie around about that time so it’s not out of the question but I’m not sure if this is verifiable information or just an assumption.

I believe I read somewhere in the Christophe fora something about Léonie leaving the music industry after her brother’s death but again I don’t know where they sourced their information.  The Christophe fans do also mention that Léonie attended some Christophe concerts in the past year or so and they seem to be hoping this is a sign she might collaborate with Christophe again at some point.  Could be wishful thinking but you never know – maybe Christophe can introduce Léonie to Alan Vega and they can do a duet?!!

There is also mention elsewhere on the internet of a 7” record from South Africa called Wonderful Happy but the website didn’t have any images of a record or cover to prove that it is anything to do with Léonie.  But with Léonie being such a mystery it’s always possible – let’s hope that there is more to discover out there.  In the meantime I am trying to get my hands on the vinyl I do know about but don’t yet have and good quality copies of the TV appearances in full as well. 

But if you haven’t already seen my little write-up on Léonie’s brief appearance on Système 2 from 15 June 1975, which I do have in my collection, here it is

I’ll keep updating this article as and when I get new stuff or find out more information, but for now here is a vague discography without dates as these seem to vary from site to site:

Je m’en vais faire un tour dans la campagne / Le fleur de serre / Le cinérama / Candie (Fontana, 460.251)

En Alabama / Wahala Manitou 7” (Les Disques Motors, MT 4014)

En Alabama / Wahala Manitou 7” (Victor World Group, JET-2092, Japan)

Lilith / Lennon 7” (Les Disques Motors, MT 4020)

Lennon / Lilith 7” (Accion, AC 10.014 Spain)

Lennon (sung in Spanish) / Lilith 7” Accion, AC 10.025 Spain)

Couleurs 7″ the track is from Les gants blancs du diable soundtrack / the b-side is instrumental tracks by Karl Heinz Schäfer, Cardoni and Les gants blancs (Eden Roc, ER 62001)

Le jardin anglais / Mozart (Les Disques Motors, MT 4030)

So Long, John / L’Autre petit prince 7” (RCA Victor, 42014)

Elisabetti / Y’a rien a faire avec les hommes (Ariola, 100 633–100)

Gotainer Poil à la pub CD (Flarenasch, 472 040) – Léonie does 2 jingles for Eram

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Hats off to Matthew Meek for the Salut Les Copains article and many thanks to Dave T for introducing me to Léonie’s music.

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Polnapop – La Poupee qui fait non x 6

One of the reasons I decided to do this blog was because as an English fan of French music I find I have very few people to talk to about my record and memorabilia collection; whilst quite a few people may have heard of Serge Gainsbourg, all they seem to know about him is the Whitney Houston story or, worse still, they have this idea that he was some kind of sex dwarf (even though he wasn’t short!).  It pains me greatly to hear what people think they know about him – they’re always wrong – and Joann Sfar’s film Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque) did not exactly help in that respect.  But I’ll get onto that some other time, because this first post is not actually about Gainsbourg; it’s about Michel Polnareff.  And if British people know very little about Gainsbourg, then unfortunately they know even less about Polnareff.  Well, there’s good news because I know loads about him and I can get it off my chest here.

Polnareff is still around and (supposedly) recording today, but for me the music he made in the 60s and 70s is the best of all.  So we’ll start at the beginning when Michel Polnareff was only 21 years old and he released his first EP La poupée qui fait non in May 1966.  I am using a number of sources of information for this article (see the end of this article for details) and you may well notice that some of the information – coming from Polnareff himself – contradicts other information; what can I say?  Polnamyth or Polnamythomane maybe?

La poupée qui fait non / Chère Véronique / Beatnik / Ballade pour toi (Ce que je cherche est en toi)

(Disc’AZ EP 1024, May 1966)

Polna poupee001

Back in May 1965 Polnareff was living the beatnik life, homeless, often starving (he claims that he once went 13 days and nights without eating a thing), and generally slumming it on the streets of Montmartre busking with his guitar or playing piano at La Crémaillère or the Clan d’Estaing to earn some money.

During this period he met an English girl called Sue who spoke with a lisp (I don’t know why that’s important, but Polnareff mentioned it so I am mentioning it too!).  She was hanging out at Montmartre with her mother, listening to Polnareff and his friends playing their music – she told him that if he should ever go to London, he should stay with them.  He took Sue at her word and later that year went to London, staying for five months (according to Polnaréflexion) or one month (according to Polnareff par Polnareff), even though, as he put it, he found her apartment “sordid, not clean”.  But beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.

Whilst in London he visited Soho, Kings Road, and Carnaby Street, and tried his hand at selling some of his compositions to publishers in Denmark Street.  Polnareff says he went door-to-door introducing himself and his music:  “Voilà, I’m French, I write, I sing… …I must have seemed strange with my way of insisting on my talent and the big career that was waiting for me.”  But nothing doing…  One of the companies who turned him down was Southern, apparently.

Then in November 1965 Polnareff was presented with a chance to earn himself a recording career when he entered a talent competition at La Locomotive – the first prize was a contract with Barclay.    The finals took place on 12 February 1966 and, yes, Polnareff won – in one version of the story, Polnareff says it was with his versions of Peggy Sue and That’ll Be The Day (Polnareff par Polnareff) and in another he says it was with one of his own compositions called Second Hand Girl (Salut Les Copains, No 69, April 1968).  But did Polnareff want the prize?  No, he said he didn’t want to be a singer and he was only singing for his own amusement.  What?!!

The plot thickens on this one as Polnareff says in Polnaréflexion that he refused the prize and so it went to a singer called Alan Shelley who came second place; in Polnareff par Polnareff he says that he refused the prize and offered it to his friend Cyril Azzam who came in second place; elsewhere in Polnareff Le Roi des Fourmis Christian Eudeline quotes Jacques Mercier (Dynastie Crisis) who was there, as rhythm guitarist of les Rockers (the band who were accompanying the acts in the competition) – he said that Alan Shelley, who came second, took the prize in the end and that Polnareff was already recording his first single but had not told anyone else about it at the time.  In Salut Les Copains (No 69, April 1968) Polnareff indicates that it was a few months after turning down the Barclay contract that he was picked up by Éditions SEMI when a representative of theirs heard him singing on the streets.  But this is just not possible…

Given that the final of the competition took place on 12 February 1966 and that by early March Polnareff was in London recording with Jean Bouchety, I’d say Jacques Mercier’s version of events could well be right.  But how did this other contract and arrangements for the recording come about?

According to Polnareff’s school friend Gérard Woog, he introduced Polnareff to Lucien Morisse who was CEO at Disc’AZ and Programme Director at Europe 1.  Woog also worked as a talent scout for Rolf Marbot of Éditions SEMI (Société d’édition Musicale Internationale), which represented the entire Peer-Southern catalogue in France.  Woog convinced Polnareff to sign a contract with them, although apparently Polnareff wasn’t keen on the idea.

In Polnaréflexion Polnareff says that “a spectator” at one of his busking sessions at Sacré-Cœur asked him: “Don’t you want to record a single?” He says this “spectator” introduced him to Rolf Marbot and although Rolf Marbot was not too interested in what he heard, his female colleagues were absolutely thrilled.  In Polnareff par Polnareff the spectator is named as Woog and Rolf Marbot’s female colleagues are named as Huguette Ferly, Christiane Landrieux and the lyricist Vline Buggy; Polnareff says they were convinced he would become “a phenomenon”.

Huguette Ferly, who was the Artistic Director for Éditions SEMI, then introduced Polnareff to Jean Bouchety.  Bouchety was an arranger / producer who had played with the likes of Django Reinhardt in the 1940s and went on to arrange and produce for acts ranging from les Chausettes Noires, to Vince Taylor, and Jacqueline Taïeb of 7 heures du matin fame.  I also understand he may have been responsible for some of the music used in Prisoner Cell Block H – if so, you bloody ripper, Mr Bouchety!

Jean Bouchety (left, sitting) and Michel Polnareff (right, dozing on settee)

Bouchety was then working as an arranger for Barclay – the company that offered Polnareff a contract when he won the competition at La Locomotive – and Ferly asked him if he would consider working with Polnareff on his first single, which was to be La poupée qui fait non. 

Polnareff went to see Bouchety a few times and they recorded demos so Bouchety could work on the arrangements and lyricists could be brought in to work on the texts.  In Polnaculte Franck Gérald, who was roped in to write the lyrics for La poupée qui fait non, recalled meeting Polnareff at the time and noticing that he looked to be suffering from malnutrition, with bad teeth and skin so see-through that the veins were very prominent.

But despite being given this opportunity to make something of himself and to build a career in music, Polnareff seemed to be making demands over and above those usually indulged in as yet unproven talents.  Polnareff claimed that he insisted he would only record in England; in Polnaréflexion he says he told Rolf Marbot: “I’m not interested in singing in France.  In any case, I won’t stay here.  France is not ready for my music.  Listen, no, I’m sorry… I really prefer to go and work in England or America…”  But in Christian Eudeline’s Polnareff Le Roi des Fourmis (ECLIPSE Editions, 1997) Bouchety says he was in the habit of recording in London and so arrangements were made for the recording to take place there.  Polnareff had to meet Bouchety in London as he couldn’t bear to fly and so he travelled alone by boat.

The EP was recorded in March 1966 in the basement at Southern Music Studios on Denmark Street.  Polnareff didn’t play any instruments on the tracks.  Bouchety, not realising that Polnareff was a gifted and classically trained musician, wrote the sheet music for the tracks and called in Big Jim Sullivan to play rhythm guitar; Jimmy Page to play lead guitar; Reg Guest to play piano; and Bobby Graham to play the drums.  Although Bouchety couldn’t recall who else participated with the recordings, Polnareff says that John Paul Jones played the bass guitar.  Recording took one week, recording the music for the 4 tracks in one session; the vocals in another session; and the mixing took place in the final session.

But elsewhere Polnareff mentions in Salut Les Copains (no 69) that he had his guitar with him in the studio :  “I was scared to death but I knew what I wanted.  I had bought myself a twelve-string Hagstrom guitar, and I was very intimidated by the idea of playing in the company of experienced studio musicians like Big Jim Sullivan and Larry (sic) Page.  But it didn’t stop me from insisting on a [distorted] bass sound for the recording of La poupée qui fait non; from asking Big Jim Sullivan to play with his nails hitting all the notes; and asking Larry (sic) Page not to plug in his electric guitar.  Ah!  Let me tell you as well that all that took place in a studio 3 metres by 5 metres that was usually used for preparing Donovan’s demos and for his rehearsals.”

But if Rolf Marbot was ever annoyed by Polnareff’s supposed demands – recording only in London; his insistence that he be put up in “the biggest suite in the finest hotel” – then he wouldn’t have stayed annoyed for long as La poupée was a massive hit immediately, being played several times a day on all the radio stations in France and selling 200,000 copies in just two months.

In Polnaréflexion, Polnareff declares it was a worldwide success.  Not quite – even though Polnareff recorded the track in English as No, No, No, No, No, I’m afraid to say that it did nothing to light up the charts here.  Copies of the single in English are so scarce that it took me about 15 years to get hold of a copy (thanks to my lovely boyfriend who somehow tracked it down for me when I told him it was on my “most wanted” list).

One of the complaints I’ve had about my record collection is that it is essentially the same records over and over again with little variety; I don’t see what is wrong with that myself though.  Yes, I do have 6 copies of La poupée qui fait non on vinyl but they’re all different – here are the other 5 versions I have:

Italian language versions of La poupée qui fait non / Beatnik (Disc’AZ, J 35102X45)

Spanish issue of La poupée qui fait non EP, with Spanish titles but sung in French (Hispavox, HAZ 277-16)

German language versions of La poupée qui fait non / Beatnik (Disc’AZ, HT 300 019)

Dutch issue of La poupée qui fait non / Beatnik, sung in French (Palette, PB 40 261)

English language versions of La poupée qui fait non / Beatnik (Disques Vogue, VRS 7013)

But for those who have never listened to Polnareff before, what are the songs like?  And why would anyone want 6 copies of this rather fine single / EP?  Well, can I just pass on some advice first of all that you should get the vinyl EP or the vinyl version of the first Polnareff LP rather than any of the remastered CD versions, which have been “tidied” up, as the original versions are far superior; especially when it comes to the more garagey type tracks like Time Will Tell, which features on Polnareff’s third EP so won’t be discussed just yet…

Anyway, here’s a little bit of information about the tracks on the La poupée EP:

La poupée qui fait non:  A folk-pop song about an unrequited love; a girl who only says no to Polnareff and hasn’t yet learnt how to say yes!  He finds her very pretty and dreams about her but she doesn’t even listen to him or look at him, she just says no.  One of many songs where Polnareff complains about a girl not loving or wanting him.  The lyrics for this one were written by Franck Gérald, who worked as an in-house writer for Rolf Marbot’s SEMI.  Gérald says that in his demo version, Polnareff did not have any real lyrics and just sang sounds and English words like “you yeah”, which Gérald turned into la poupée (the doll), and “no, no, no, no, no”, which he turned into qui fait non (who shakes her head, or says no).  But in an interview in Mademoiselle age tendre (no 42)Polnareff said that the inspiration for the title to the song came from an incident that occurred in London – the story going something like this: he was in an antiques shop in London and he saw a very beautiful girl.  When she came in the shop he had been looking at a jointed doll made of jade.  As he was thinking about what he might say to the beautiful girl to get to see her again, he looked at the doll and its head appeared to move in a gesture that said ‘no’.  When he turned around the beautiful girl had gone and he never saw her again.   Franck Gérald also recalls the doll shop story in Polnaculte and says that it’s “totally false”!

Chère Véronique:  A pop song sung in the style of Buddy Holly or Adam Faith, with a sound similar to Trini Lopez’s If I Had a Hammer.  Another of Polnareff’s “poor me, she doesn’t love me” songs.  This one takes the form of a letter to an unrequited love called Véronique.  He tells her that he doesn’t want her to laugh when she reads what he has to say, but he dare not say it.  In fact he really doesn’t dare to say it because by the end of the song he has ripped up and burnt the letter so she will now never get to read it; she doesn’t get to hear about his love for her and how at night-time in his dreams he is able to touch her fingers, her loose hair and her blueberry eyes, but that the reality of the morning snatches her away from him.  In the letter he tells her how he spends the summer watching her from the branches of a tree; that he dreams of hearing her singing his song (an indication that the words are written for someone who is himself a singer); that the very next day he is having to go away to forget about her.  The irony of him singing that she will never get to read his letter is that presumably “Véronique” will get to hear this song and will know he loves her anyway.  So was this song autobiographical at all?  Erm, let’s hope not as Véronique is the name of the white hamster that sits on his shoulder on the cover of the EP.  Unless of course Véronique the hamster had a namesake, of course?  The lyrics for this one were written by a certain Vline Buggy.  Vline Buggy was in a fact a songwriting duo, comprising Evelyne (Vline) Konyn Koger and Liliane (Buggy) Konyn Koger.  But when Vline died in 1962, Buggy decided to continue writing under the name Vline Buggy, so these lyrics were actually written by Liliane Konyn Koger.  This track wasn’t included on Polnareff’s first album.

Polnareff and his pet hamster Véronique

Beatnik:  This is a song about “a long-haired tramp” who travels around with his twelve-string guitar (a Hagstrom like Polnareff’s? Probably…), singing come what may and looking for friendship, freedom and food.  The music has a kind of 60’s Manchester sound, a bit Hollies-like.  This is the “beatnik” as hero; even if he’s ready to faint from hunger he will still share his bread with a dog.  And “beatnik” as romantic; despite giving off the impression of being wild, a girl will still manage to capture his heart and he will sing endlessly for her because life is sweet when love calls to you.  At least this time he’s not bemoaning the fact that a girl doesn’t love him, I guess!  Again, this is another supposedly autobiographical track, with Polnareff seen as the beatnik character who was starving on the streets and singing to keep things together.  The lyrics were written by Franck Thomas, who was asked to write a text for “a beatnik” who was recording for Rolf Marbot.  Thomas had co-written Syvie Vartan’s 2’35 de bonheur and went on to co-write France Gall’s Bébé requin.  Interestingly, despite what Polnareff says about only wanting to record in England, in Polnaculte Franck Thomas says that although the music for this track was recorded in London, they went to Studio de la Gaieté near Bobino where Polnareff recorded his vocals.  Thomas says that he and Lucien Morisse were present and they were amazed at Polnareff’s talent; the soundman, someone called Roche, declared Polnareff a genius.  As with Chère Véronique, Beatnik was not one of the tracks included on the album.

Ballade de toi (Ce que je cherche est en toi): A folk ballad, with lyrics written by Anne Kopelman. This is a beautiful, sad little song about a relationship which has ended.  It’s about how short life is and how long it takes someone to find you and to realise that what they are looking for is you.  And then despite taking so long to arrive at this point, they so quickly decide to move on, by which time you have begun to realise that what you are looking for is them.  It has a very sad feel to it and lovely lyrics.  Heartbreakingly lovely.

All in all, an excellent EP and even more so when you realise that it was Polnareff’s first experience of recording his own music and singing in a studio setting; and what a special voice he has!

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The English language version of La poupée has lyrics written by Geoff Stephens, presumably the same one who discovered and managed Donovan and co-wrote The Lights of Cincinnati with Tony Macaulay for Scott Walker; I like to think so.  Anyway, this seems to be a fairly faithful translation other than the acknowledgement he gets as a friend and brother in this version, in comparison with the total indifference he’s met with in the French original:

No no no no no

I give her my love
She says no, no, no, no
I give her my heart
She says no, no, no, no

Cos you’re only a friend to me
Only a brother to me

She’s a pretty little doll
Who says no, no, no, no
Just a little doll
And she knows I love her so

If I ask her to walk with me
She shakes her head at me

She’s a pretty little doll
Who says no, no, no, no
All the night time through
She says no, no, no, no

If I ask her to walk with me
Why can’t she ever say oui?

She says you’re only a friend to me
Only a brother to me

She’s a pretty little doll
Who says no, no, no, no
All the night time through
She says no, no, no, no

If I ask her to walk with me
I know she’ll never say oui

The English language version of Beatnik, with lyrics apparently written by Polnareff as no one else is credited (but I somehow doubt that he wrote them), is a much more pessimistic view of the beatnik life than the French language version.  Whilst the French beatnik would share his bread with a dog even if he was fit to faint himself, the English version gets into trouble with the police for stealing meat for dying dogs; the English beatnik’s mother died when he was “justalittlebaby” (Polnareff has to rush over the words in this verse just to make them fit in!) and his middle name is Lonely, but in the French version “all men are brothers” and he takes friendship with him when he travels the world.

Beatnik (English version)

His hair falls over his eyes
He gets up before sunrise
He’s 17 years, 17 years
They just don’t care
The world belongs to him
The world belongs to him

His mother died when he was just a little baby
His middle name is lonely
Lonely, lonely
They just don’t care
The world belongs to him
The world belongs to him

He gets some bread in his bag
A bottle of wine and a flag
People laugh at him, laugh at him
But they just don’t care
The world belongs to him
The world belongs to him

He ???
But he would fight and die for what he thinks to be true
They laugh at him, laugh at him
But they just don’t care
The world belongs to him
The world belongs to him

The police looked for him, he stole some meat
For a dying dog who had nothing to eat
They looked for him, they looked for him
But they just don’t care
The world belongs to him
The world belongs to him

His hair falls over his eyes
He gets up before sunrise
He’s 17 years, 17 years
They just don’t care
The world belongs to him
The world belongs to him

The world belongs to him (to fade)

If anyone can tell what the missing text is in this version of Beatnik, please let me know as I listened to it several times and just could not make sense of it.

– – 0 – –

Polnareff appeared on TV to perform and promote La poupée qui fait non on the following shows (and probably more):

Vient de paraître, 07.05.66, directed by Janine Guyon

Vient de paraitre 5Vient de paraitre 7Vient de paraitre 11Vient de paraitre 12Vient de paraitre 16Vient de paraitre 17Vient de paraitre 18Vient de paraitre 19

Têtes de bois et tendres années, 25.05.66, directed by André Teisseire

Tete de bois 51Tete de bois 52Tete de bois 53Tete de bois 54Tete de bois 56Tete de bois 58

Discorama, 30.05.66, directed by Raoul Sangla

Discorama May 66 4Discorama May 66 6Discorama May 66 8Discorama May 66 12Discorama May 66 14Discorama May 66 15Discorama May 66 17Discorama May 66 19

Douce France, 16.06.66, directed by François Chatel

Douce France June 66 19Douce France June 66 20Douce France June 66 22Douce France June 66 23Douce France June 66 25Douce France June 66 27Douce France June 66 30

Douches écossaises, 04.07.66, directed by Jean-Christophe Averty

Douches ecossaises 55Douches ecossaises 56Douches ecossaises 57Douches ecossaises 59Douches ecossaises 60

Jeunesse oblige, 16.07.66, directed by Denise Billon

Bienvenue chez Guy Béart, 18.11.66, directed by Raoul Sangla

Michel Polnareff Bienvenue 11Michel Polnareff Bienvenue 12Michel Polnareff Bienvenue 13Michel Polnareff Bienvenue 16Michel Polnareff Bienvenue 18Michel Polnareff Bienvenue 19

There was also an appearance on German TV (show unknown) where Polnareff sang half of the song in German and the other half in French:

And an appearance singing the track in Italian on a show apparently called Chez vous:

La poupée qui fait non – an absolute classic comprising just 3 chords!

The next Polnapop update will be on the subject of the Love Me, Please Love Me EP, but please be patient as I have other heroes to write about on here too…

Postscript August 2013:  Of course I keep accumulating records as I find them, so really this article needs to be renamed as I have more than 6 different copies of La poupée qui fait non now.  Here are a couple more I have added to the collection:

Polna poupee002

Love Me, Please Love Me / La poupée qui fait non 7″ disc AZ, Germany, HT 300022 (note the mis-spelling of poupée)

Polna poupee003

Love Me, Please Love Me / La poupée qui fait non 7″ Metronome, Germany, reissue 1974, M 25.620

Postscript February 2014:  I was recently given a copy of a German pop music magazine called Bravo from 21 November 1966 (number 48) and it includes the lyrics to Meine puppe sagt non, here they are for your sing-along pleasure:

Polna Poupee lyrics001No, the scan’s not wonky – it’s the layout of the page!

Also, it seems I now have all the TV shows mentioned in this article except Jeunesse Oblige – if anyone has this and can sell me a copy or trade a copy, please get in touch via the blog.  Ta!

Information sources:  (i) POLNAREFF Le Roi des Fourmis, Christian Eudeline (ECLIPSE Editions, 1997); (ii) Polnaréflexion, Michel Polnareff en collaboration avec Jean-Michel Desjeunes (Éditions Stock, 1974); (iii) Polnareff par Polnareff, avec la collaboration de Philippe Manœuvre (Éditions Grasset & Fasquelle, 2004); (iv) Polnaculte, Benoît Cachin (Éditions de Tournon, 2007); (v) Salut Les Copains (No 69, April 1968); (vi) Mademoiselle age tendre (No 42, April 1968), article Michel Polnareff – mes “âme câlines” et moi, p78.

All (bad) translations into English are my own.  Thanks to Dave for photoshopping the Polnareff on the J’adore picture and for tracking down No no no no no for me after all those years.