Endless Loop: Il Est Trop Loin

francoisehardyHave you ever had one of those songs that gets stuck in your head for days…weeks…years? Sure you have. These are the songs that always make the cut. The songs on repeat. We all have them. I have a ton. Welcome back to Endless Loop.

“Il Est Trop Loin” by Françoise Hardy

“Cause Doris Day could never make me cheer up quite the way those French girls always do.”

I open with a lyric from the great Neil Hannon and his baroque pop band The Divine Comedy because he’s really onto something.  There is a certain mystique surrounding French women that pervades so many aspects of our pop culture, and I am certainly not immune to the allure.  Whether it’s the smoking, cool, and flirty aloofness of the women portrayed in any number of French New Wave films, the pouty and detached chic of the country’s fashionistas, or the throngs of yé-yé girls making music over the last half century, I am so there.  And I have been smitten with original yé-yé girl Françoise Hardy for the better part of 20 years.

With a range of material spanning decades, and in different languages, it can be a tad daunting to dive into the musical works of Ms. Hardy.  As a fan, even I haven’t been able to traverse everything, but I always seem to be able to stumble across something I’ve never heard before…and that new (to me) song tends to become my obsession for a while.  Most recently I’ve been looping “Il Est Trop Loin,” from the artist’s 1967 album Ma Jeunesse Fout L’Camp, and it may be my favorite thing that Françoise Hardy ever recorded.  The song, which loosely translates to “It Is Too Far,” is a reworking of Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “Sorrow,” itself a reworking of the traditional American folk song “Man of Constant Sorrow,” originally penned by Dick Burnett.  Featuring Hardy’s almost mournful vocals laid over a plucked electric guitar, a minimal tambourine beat, and a rising wave of soft strings and choir voices, “Il Est Trop Loin” sounds like the psych-tinged lament of a lonely soul, the world hanging heavy.  It’s a wonderful interpretation of a song that’s now over a century old.

Those French girls will continue to cheer me up, to amaze me.


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

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