Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The French Elvis

The biggest story in the French news this week is actually one that's coming out of the US. And I'll send a baguette and a wheel of St Nectaire to anyone over there who actually knows what I'm talking about.

Ok, since Magali is probably going to sneak in here with the answer and get that wheel of cheese before anyone stateside does, I'll just go ahead and answer, Yes. It is the story about Johnny Hallyday who is currently in an induced coma at Cedars-Sini hospital in L.A.

It's been the headline story on TF1 for the last few nights and I think about 1/4 of the news is dedicated to all the details of his health, the surgery he had on his herniated disc, what his wife is doing, what's this means for the tour he's currently on, and the French doctor who may have possibly screwed up on the original surgery on Johnny's back last month.

Why is this news, you may wonder? Well, this is Johnny. THE Johnny. The French version of Elvis who is still alive and singing at 66 years old and not dead wearing a sequined one piece jumpsuit.

I'll admit that when we first arrived in France, this Johnny Hallyday guy seemed just another aging rocker to me. A French aging rocker. One that in my own rock and roll stereotypes, I wasn't prepared to take seriously. Sure, they call him "The French Elvis" but what the heck does that really mean?

Turns out, a lot.

Johnny started his rock n'roll career back in the 1960s, and has since performed over 400 tours and has produced 18 platinum albums. His fans in France, and other Francophone countries, are passionate, obsessive about this man. (I kid you not, since the story has broken about his health, the French doctor who may have or may not have screwed up the original surgery, has already been physically assaulted by Johnny fans.) Just mentioning of some of his biggest hits, like "Marie" or "Allumer Le Feu", will get all ages and generations singing along. His voice is powerful. His presence on stage is electric. And best of all, he's not just a performer. He actually can sing.

And I hate to admit it, but I've become a fan.

In recent years, he's been spending more and more time in the United States. There, he's able to live in relative anonymity and go about his daily life without being hassled every two seconds as he is in France. He's a relative unknown over there. Just another aging rocker-type dude with a thing for Harley Davidsons, a hot young wife, and lots of cash. Throw a stone in L.A and you'll hit about 10 of those, right?

He may come across at first glance as cheesy or unreal with this American motorcycle man look as he belts out rock anthems in French, but there is something to him. He's got substance and, most shocking of all, he seems real.

Yes, you can add me to the list of people who has been watching the news, Googling for updates on him. I'm one of the millions hoping that he'll get better and finally enjoy some peace on his bike in the deserts of the American southwest.

Show us how a true rocker ages, Johnny. Take us with you.

1 comment:

RHB said...

Wow- he really is like the French Elvis!