A new, unreleased piece by Johnny Hallyday, recorded in February 2017 in Los Angeles, will be released Thursday at 1:40 p.m. A first extract is available.
Johnny Hallyday’s voice still resonates. This Wednesday, his record company unveiled an excerpt from an unreleased piece by Taulier, titled A scream. The title will be available in full on Friday as part of the release of Made in Rock’n’Roll, a compilation of hits by the singer, who died in 2017.
“The vocals for this song were recorded in February 2017, in Los Angeles, some time after Johnny Hallyday learned that he had cancer. One of his first reactions was that he wanted to start a project very quickly,” confides BFMTV Bertrand Lamblot, former artistic director of Johnny Hallyday.
“Paradoxically, Johnny was in top form at that time and called me every day looking for songs,” Yodélice said in a press release.
The latter then “began to look for lyrics to write songs on,” Bertrand Lamblot remembers. He asked several authors, including Vincent Walter Jacob, musician and music teacher of Johnny’s daughters.
“He kept these in the stack of texts that Maxim (Nucci, Yodélice’s real name, editor’s note) offered to Johnny,” Bertrand Lamblot remembers. “I think what appealed to him was that this text alone tells the story of Hallyday and his relationship with America, which has always fascinated him.”
To record his voice, the singer follows an unusual process: “He records demos, during completely informal sessions, without a musician. Only Maxim who comes with two or three instruments.” A scream is on the plot. But when it comes time to choose the titles of his latest album, My country is love (2018), it does not find its place there:
“We came from ‘De l’amour’ (his previous album, editor’s note), which was a quite intimate album, musically very tight, dark and folk, not at all intended to be played in large venues.”
“My country is love came as a break. The idea was to make a much more epic album, to return to this broader formulation of Johnny’s music, with the idea of playing stadiums again.” A scream “was a simple blues. A basic blues, with an acoustic guitar and nothing else (…) it didn’t really have its place in this context.”
Treasure lost… and then found
The model is then lost in the archives. “When Johnny left, we all had to deal with our pain and our grief, the fact that we finished this album, the release of it (…) we forgot this song.”
It was thanks to a change in management at Warner that the archives were unearthed and this unfinished song finally came to light. “I talked to Maxim about it, he actually had the song on his hard drive, and from there the idea of what we were going to do with it came about.”
Yodélice reconsiders. “He clicked, he found a place where he could take the song that seemed both relevant and modern to the title, and somewhere where you could assume Johnny would have loved it.”
When the blues becomes rock
A formula that made it possible to “bring Hallyday back to his very first love of rock’n’roll, in a modern context and in a French, lyrical context, where it could work at the time, which was very complicated to do. And we found something that worked.”
Is this really the last unreleased copy? “As far as I know there are no more,” says Bertrant Lamblot. “(But) I don’t know what’s in the Universal archives.”
What he is certain of, however, is that this song would have heralded a new era for Johnny Hallyday. “When we recorded the last voices of My country is loveMaxim went back to make other songs with other authors, we made models and that was really the direction we went. We played these songs for Johnny, who really wanted to record them, and unfortunately we couldn’t do it… A screamThat’s definitely where we would have been if we had made another album.”