from “pampering soul” to “letter to France”, the art of knowing the summits in 14 titles

THE TOP OF THE TOP – On the post-yé-yé hinge of the 60s and 70s, plus a few brilliant postscripts, the androgynous singer brought his talent as melodic unparalleled to the French variant. While an anthological box is coming out, the music editors have chosen 14 titles to pay tribute to him.

“Heart History” (1966)

At Polnareff, at least in the second period, ass was more often than not the heart at the center of the debates (and source of inspiration that comes to mind) Play me you, Come and get a bang Where Read Boul ‘to zero). Already incomparably gifted, the very young man from the first album was more sentimental, softer and more subtle. Love story have something Dream a little dream about me or a ballad by Stéphane Grappelli, a mixture of innocence and shyness overcome in extremis by a trembling wave of audacity. – Louis-Julien Nicolaou

“Cuddle Soul” (1967)

The piano floats and flows, the violins dot, swirl or stars, a flute spins in the wind and the singer’s voice seems to hover over all the heartaches of the world. In the year of grace 1967, while we only touched on what Anglo-Saxon pop, then at its peak, weaved in all blues or psychedelic tones, French variation knew how to produce these little radio miracles, pocket symphonies that pierced you without you even realizing it, fleeting butterflies that you would remember for a long time. – Francois Gorin

“My Regrets” (1967)

In 1967, the time has come for troubadours, peace, love and juggling in the marketplace. An ideal setting for the fragile blonde prince with the surname as a Russian aristocrat. Cembalo, candlesticks and jabot, flute voice and wild romance, he is in his right element. The introduction of My apologies slightly reminiscent of Everyone has been burned composed by David Crosby for Byrds. And it’s all in honor of Polnareff, probably the only French melodist who can be shamelessly compared, at least for this title, to the huge Croz. – Louis-Julien Nicolaou

“The Laze Ball” (1968)

It’s crazy to imagine a baroque song as sublime as Laze Ball may have been avoided by the public when it was released (1968) – even banned from the radio, the stories of hangings that had a bad effect in the air. From a dramaturgical point of view, this lament over a convicted man is nonetheless one of the most successful, from the shocking announcement of the hanging to the final revelation. Above the stanzas, madness emerges beneath the grandiose organ, giving this story of another time a timeless tragic sensuality. – Anne Berthod

“Everything, Everything for My Treasure” (1969)

There’s the dizzying Polnareff and the more playful, even jerky Michel. This one, when he lets go (with an irreconcilable harmonic stringency moreover), nothing can stop him. It scales the treble and slides down the octaves like a roller coaster. He sings canon with himself. He shouts effortlessly and seduces each a passing ear. He pushes demented formulas to heaven: “I’m on a pedestal … of cri-ii-istal …” In the wind after 68 of non-politicized children, it was total and innocent joy, the breath of freedom. – Francois Gorin

“The Michetonneuse” (1969)

69, erotic year … The theme is a bit worn, even outdated today, but Polnareff, who was still romantic at the time, slipped into the skin of a poor boy who was in love with a prostitute. “Money has everything, everything you’ve killed”, he begs this melodic loop as minimal as it is intoxicating, with a lively tempo but a desperate purpose. Short, concise and inventive (harpsichord and echo effects), in direct line with the psychedelic temptation of Ray Davies’ Kinks. Otherwise finer than Roxane (Police), years later … – Hugo Cassavetti

“It Happens Only to Other People” (1971)

The main theme of Nadine Trintignant’s rather moving melody about a couple losing their child … If the film, strongly autobiographical, is a bit dated in form, the song in less than two minutes remains a model for delicacy and economy in means. . A sublime melody, weightless song and a text as elliptical as poetic, where everything is said. “One more bird, one less bird, you know the difference, it’s grief. » The coming Polnabeauf and clumsiness is still far away. – Hugo Cassavetti

Theme on love, the soundtrack to “La Folie des grandeurs” (1971)

Who has not smiled while listening to the soundtrack to Gérard Oury’s film, very freely adapted from Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo, with de Funès as an unworthy Don Sallust? In its long version, published on the compilation Polnareffs cinema, that love theme arranged by Hervé Roy (spotted by Johnny and Claude François) does not go with the back of the spoon on the romantic side. A harpsichord, a piano, some winds, a love classical guitar, and to end this male choir without words, like the roar of a flock of deer in the spring. But stylized. – Erwan Perron

“We Will All Go to Heaven” (1972)

An introduction to the kazoo, one should dare. But Polnareff was never close to provocation. The song itself is another. The contrast between its happy and unifying choir to be taken up in choir with the family or at a camp, and the lyrics that were politically incorrect at the time (signed Jean-Loup Dabadie), mixed “good sisters and thieves”, “saints and murderers” in a heart church, still confirms the anarsiden of the man with the white glasses. In the genre of transgenerational singing with a very French secular spirit, this one is perfect. – Frederic Peguillan

“Fluen” (1972)

The violins hum in all directions when a Brazilian guitar puts everyone back on the starting line. The insane race against 4 minutes and 30 minutes of infernal groove can begin: galloping drums, slide guitar, shining trombones and trumpets and congae are added to the swirling edifice. And Polnareff to draw us into the deadly intoxication of seduction: “On his lips I had landed / to tell him that I loved him” … before the fatal accident that will cause the spinning fly to pass from life to death. sang he? Well dance now. – Odile de Plas

“Holiday” (1972)

An abundant orchestration. A high-pitched voice touching the clouds. A bass that frolic, easily. Like his text, with a taste for travel and summer, this second great success of the artist the same year, 1972, is airy in every way. Polnareff holds the note admirably well, and the abundance of strings (mandolin that evokes the sun of the south, abundance of acoustic, electric, pedal steel, slide guitars, etc.) weaves a canvas with slightly psychedelic contours that seem carried by the winds. Floating! – Frederic Peguillan

“And hop, we have to change everything”, the soundtrack to the animated film “D’Artagnan l’Intrépide” (1974)

“We have to change everything, this world is obsolete.” This title repeats No no nothing has changed sung three years earlier by Poppys. In the genre “perky pop for blonde heads worried about the future of the planet”. Polnareff responds here to an order for an animated film. The dialogue between the child’s character (“but I’m so small and so tired”) and the adult who calls him out loud (“Get up, get up!”) is priceless. One piece feel good which we value in the first, second, or even third degree. – Erwan Perron

“Letter to France” (1977)

To say that this tear-soaked romance, the pinnacle of poetry and emphasis, arose in a trivial tax case … Blunted by his businessman to ruin, threatened with imprisonment by the taxman (who does not believe in scam, though very real), Polnareff fled France in 1973 to rebuild itself in the United States. Four years later, he spins the amorous metaphor of shouting his homesickness. His drowned voice, the wet guitars and the piano leading the dance complete this moving statement, which will be the ballad of his reconciliation with the French audience. – Anne Berthod

“Radio” (1981)

One of three singles from Bubbles in 1981, the album successfully returned, after the American exile. With a shiny production, a certain Hans Zimmer, future giant of XXL film music. Direction, co-author and composition: Jean-Paul Dréau, big fan of Polnareff and future author of Sunburn (Richard Cocciante) and Slowly (Bibi). The sound shines like in the 80’s. The laser disc does not exist yet, but it is like. Polnareff flies over the synthesizers with the main voice. The beginning of the end? Yes, but then in beauty. – Odile de Plas

To listen

Michel Polnareff, The 100 most beautiful songs (5 CDs, Universal).

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