Didier Barbelivien tells the backstage of his duet with Félix Gray

The author, composer and performer, Didier Barbelivien, is the exceptional guest of Le Monde d’Élodie all this week. He indulges in going back in time with five of his must-have songs written for others or for himself. His last self-titled album, and ultimate as a performer, was released in October 2022.

The author, composer and performer Didier Barbelivien is the exceptional guest of Le Monde d’Élodie all this week. Since 1970 he has written and composed over 2,000 songs. His last album, Didier Barbelivien, which he presents as his ultimate album as a performer was released in October 2022. For five days, at almost 70 years old, he retraces the thread of his life by evoking his memories around some of his collaborations such as with Julien Clerc, Gérard Lenorman, Christophe or even Johnny Hallyday.

franceinfo: You have written a lot for others, from Johnny Hallyday to Julio Iglesias via Claude François. But you also exist first and thanks to your successful interpretations, among which To all the girls or John of France in homage to Jean Ferrat. What does this part of interpretation represent in your life?

Didier Barbelivien: It was my school. Me, I’m not a guy who was born with an innate sense of song, music, variety. I had to go to the French variety school and there was everything. It actually started in Brassens, Brel, Aznavour, Nougaro, Bécaud and then after the yéyés with Sheila, Sylvie Vartan, Claude François, Johnny Hallyday, Dick Rivers etc. Afterwards, I made myself the new French song with Maxime Le Forestier, Jean-Michel Caradec, Yves Duteil, Yves Simon. Well, I couldn’t stop studying. I was at school. I listened to all their records, all their songs, I learned. I was fascinated. I thought to myself: but how do they do that? Why is this one doing this? And then, one thing led to another, I started to write.

It’s your father who will give you this love, this mountebank side, this desire to sing. You listen to it in the trucks when you go to the markets.

“My father was a fairground merchant. He was a guy who was rather happy, who loved song, music.”

Didier Barbelivien

at franceinfo

My dad loved a lot of stuff! He sang old songs from the time of Tino Rossi, but he loved Johnny Hallyday. He liked much more modern songs. He loved Leny Escudero, someone we hardly ever talk about, Mouloudji, Francis Lemarque, people like that.

Above all, he taught you about real life, the desire to learn, the desire to listen to others, the desire to respect others, a job well done.

I think so, and then you know, in this somewhat petty business environment, where life is not easy, where we are cousins ​​of the proletariat of the time, the jobs are tough. There are markets where he makes money, there are markets where he loses money. There are times when the rain takes everything away… I have memories of that.

I would like to talk about the success of To all the girls who arrives in 1991. How did you experience this duet with Félix Gray? It became a tube, still today, everyone talks about it.

Yes, we lived it in a good mood. Especially since at the start, we are thrown from all the radios. But that is the prerogative of songs that will make France sing. In general, if you want to be sure to have a hit, it’s when you’re thrown from the media: “It’s not enough if, it’s not enough that, it’s not what we expected of him, all the same it’s a bit easy“. Trying to make popular songs out of them, you’ll see if it’s easy. And Félix and I are so close that it makes us laugh. We know that there are television shows to promote our song and to please people or not. It could have been an absolute flop, but we had made the effort to buy tuxedos to play Jean-Pierre Cassel and Sacha Distel in the big years. In short, we liked it.

You paid tribute to Léo Ferré who was a great gentleman for you and Jean Ferrat with John of France. Tell us about this song. She is very important to you.

“Paying homage to Jean Ferrat was essential for me.”

Didier Barbelivien

at franceinfo

I had written a song for Nicole Croisille called Leo. I love it, I never tire of paying tribute to my elders. In an album called My preferences, I reviewed almost everyone: Nougaro, Brassens, Ferré, Ferrat, Lennon, Elton John. It’s even more than natural for me, it’s my duty. I have to thank these people. I had been listening to Jean Ferrat since the age of ten, since I had heard Night and Fog at Guy Lux. You realize, hearing a song like that on the song charts! That is to say that the most censored singer in France was with the most disparaged host. This is where I love France. It’s a great country. Nobody wanted Jean Ferrat at the time, except Guy Lux, whom the guys called Bonux, there you go, the most commercial guy of the time, let’s say. And Ferrat creates his songs there. My mother listened a lot to Jean Ferrat, my father too and one thing leading to another, I wanted to discover all of Ferrat’s work and God knows it is important, and I am grateful to you for Ferrat sings Aragon.

Didier Barbelivien will be in concert on November 2, 2023 in Bressuire, the 5th in Marseille, the 8th in Lyon, the 12th in Lille, the 26th in Toulouse, the 1ster December in Tours etc.

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