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A France in Turmoil Mourns Françoise Hardy, Its Voice of Melancholy Cool

WorldA France in Turmoil Mourns Françoise Hardy, Its Voice of Melancholy Cool

It was like Françoise Hardy, the wistful singer and songwriter of a certain French melancholy and style, to slip away in the midst of a political storm, for it was never the clamor of power struggles that interested her, but rather an inner world of solitude, love betrayed and loss.

With France in turmoil after President Emmanuel Macron’s sudden plunging of the nation into an unexpected legislative election campaign, the country’s leading newspapers nevertheless devoted much of their front pages to Ms. Hardy’s death this week at the age of 80, hailing “the icon” of French music.

For Gabriel Attal, the prime minister, it was the loss of “this singular voice of a fierce tranquillity that cradled generations of French people” that felt overwhelming. For Brigitte Bardot, “France has lost with her a little of that nobility, of that beauty and that luminous talent, of that elegance that she conveyed all through her life.”

It was as if the country through Ms. Hardy’s life had come full circle, from her birth during an air raid in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944, seven months before the city’s liberation, to a moment when a far-right party once led by a man who belittled the Holocaust is now possibly on the brink of power.

The Nouvel Obs magazine caught a general atmosphere of disorientation in the country as it wrote of Ms. Hardy “wandering the road of lost hearts” at the “end of the summer, the end of the afternoon.” It continued: “As you are leaving on a voyage, how to say goodbye to you?”

This was a play on her 1968 hit “Comment Te Dire Adieu?” (“How Can I Say Goodbye to You?”), a riff also reprised by Mr. Macron in a tribute to her. The real question that hovered in the air seemed to be: What might France be saying goodbye to?


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