Winter has fled, the trees are in bloom and France is once more in the throes of Cloclomania, some 34 years after the demise of the genuine article. Or at least the French media is in the throes of Cloclomania. Whether or not the rest of France is playing along will only be known once the receipts are in. À savoir: Cloclo is the appellation d'origine contrôlée* of singer-songwriter Claude François, who successfully seduced and serenaded la République throughout the 60's and '70's. And continuing the recent spate of biographical films on popular singers such as Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg and Marie Antoinette, Cloclo now has his very own biopic out, cleverly entitled, well, Cloclo.
[ Correction : Apparently Marie Antoinette was not a pouty & wan girl-rocker but a tragically decapitated queen of France. Hobbies included big hair, boredom in the midst of inescapable groupies, dressing up like the richest shepherdess on earth and being misquoted about cake. ]
[ ... Correction to correction : Marie Antoinette may have been a rock star. ]
Toutefois, the discomaniacal gyrations of Monsieur François and his Claudettes (we are not making this up) held sway over a generation. And in many ways he was a pioneer of the media machine driving the current cult of Peoplisation, publishing his own fan magazine, entitled Podium, and deftly reinventing himself at the crest of each new wave long before the name Madonna meant anything to anyone other than an Italian and/or Roman Catholic (oddly enough, Cloclo's middle name was Marie, or Madonna by another name). A workaholic innovator with a growing international audience, François's career was suddenly cut short in 1978 when, with typical kinetic impatience, the 39 year old showman attempted to fix a faulty light fixture while standing in a full bathtub (again, we are not making this up).
Ici à Paris, it would be difficult to see Cloclo's current "resurgent" popularity as anything other than a media creation, as Cloclo never really went away to begin with. La France is loath to throw away her past, especially if it once provided comfort or enjoyment. La France, plutôt, holds on to her cherished memories and those who created them like a dog-eared doudou**, and is proud of it. And pourquoi pas? A sense of self is built largely on memory, and a large part of France's exceptional sense of self lies in the fact that she throws away neither the aged nor the departed. In fact, all that's required to assure a string of interviews, TV talk show appearances, round-table debates and sundry event openings in one's golden years is to have been a celebrity for the proverbial 15 minutes in one's youth. To wit: The Legion d'Honneur was awarded in January to Stone et Charden, an obscure singing duet from the 70's (We invite those without vertigo to imagine Captain and Tennille accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom).
Au fait... Did we mention that he wrote "My Way"?
* Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) = An assurance that a given French product actually comes from the region indicated on the label, i.e. Camembert or Champagne.
** Doudou = Can be a teddy bear or baby blanket, or an object that provides the emotional reassurance of a teddy bear or baby blanket.