A Guide on Folk Music – Volume II
is like the soundtrack to the misery lingering after a love lost; its sensual melancholy takes grasp of you thanks to an unusually spacious atmosphere and the hollow orchestral/bossa nova backing, the latter of which was supplied by Valeniza Zagni da Silva, also known as Tuca. Both Francoise Hardy and Tuca were suffering from their own romantic ailments prior to and during the production of La Question
; Hardy was in a tumultuous relationship with fellow musician Jacques Dutronc, while Tuca suffered from a case of unrequited love, as she pursued a relationship with Italian actress Lea Massari, who was not a lesbian. These circumstances and the heartache both factions withstood would shape La Question
and its themes of love, heartbreak, and of yearning. Composed mostly by Tuca, La Question
marked a change in Hardy’s direction that contrasted greatly from her time performing “Yé-yé”, a European pop phenomenon in the early 1960s that emphasized themes of innocence, while being marketed to a willing teenage consumer base. La Question
from innocent, and in its ambitions in melding the chanson pop music that Hardy is adept at, with the subtle, uncluttered melodies Tuca crafted Hardy’s lyrics around. It doesn’t linger on wondering about love – it questions the very meaning of it, and in the process, highlights the pain the duo was going through.
In Hardy’s “Tous les garçons et les filles", a song from her “Yé-yé” era, she wonders about where her love is – “When will I know how it feels to have someone?" Yet, with a song like “Viens”, Hardy openly expresses her willingness to suffer for love, for her “heart has always given its all”. It’s strikingly different from her prior material that flirted with the concept of romance, but La Question
devotes an entire album to the very meaning itself nor shies away from the uglier aspects of it as well. La Question’s
devotion to its subject only increases the feeling of heartache, uncertainty, and the drama that is present throughout its thirty-two-minute length. The album goes from dreamlike (“La Question”), to surreal (“Le Martien”), and achingly erotic (“Chanson d’O”) in mere moments, while leaving room for more haunting vignettes that glimpse over suicidal declarations (“Mer”) and moments of realization that everything reaches a definite resolution, that heartbreak doesn’t last forever (“Rêve”). La Question
is an album for those in love; for those who yearn for love, and for those scorned by it. It soundtracks the nuances of romance, and enraptures those who can relate to its message, which has not lost one ounce of its relevance in the forty-six years since its release.