This is an anecdote little known to the general public. Before being a great comic actor, Bourvil, whose 52 years of disappearance was celebrated on September 23, was above all a singer. From La Tactique du gendarme to Les Crayons via Salade de fruits, many of his successes have marked the history and heritage of French song.
“I was lucky, the first song I wrote, Les Crayons, was the best-selling one. Without knowing it, I pleased all audiences: the pessimists, who shed a tear at the evocation of this poor girl who sold postcards, and the optimists, who recognized the theme of derision”, confided Bourvil to Franck Ténot during a cocktail party at the famous Charles-Cros Academy.
There is however a song that Bourvil refused to sing and he bit his fingers. As Philippe Crocq and Jean Mareska reveal in their biography Bourvil, De rire et de tendresse, in 1949, André Raimbourg, his real name, “yet a fine sleuth in terms of songs, misses a great opportunity”. Indeed, the singer of popular melodies is invited to dinner by Line Renaud, who was recently decorated with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. The young singer then recently lived with Loulou Gasté, who will be her future husband. He then makes him listen to a song, written especially for him, entitled: Where are you going Basile?.
A dinner with friends between two artists who have already shared the boards and a composer who is starting to get into the business. Line Renaud confided in Philippe Crocq and Jean Mareska on this memorable evening. “It was one of the very first dinners of the future Mrs. Gasté, at 25, rue Ruhmkorff, probably in April, of the month one month in ‘r’. We were not yet married Loulou and I. He had asked me to learn the song in order to make it listen to Bourvil and his wife”, remembers the singer and actress.
Line Renaud in Bourvil, Of Laughter and Tenderness.
“La demoiselle d’Armentières”, as she is nicknamed, recalls that at the time there were “no models, no demos” but that everything was “live, as we say today” . “After the coffee push, Loulou takes his guitar and I go to my song”, specifies Line Renaud.
A performance that does not seem to convince Bourvil. “At the end of it, as André looked hesitant, I added: ‘And you will see, André, fifteen days after its release, everyone will ask you: Where are you going Bourvil?'”, says Line Renaud in the Bourvil biography, Of laughter and tenderness. The evening will thus end “on the landing”, the actor “apparently skeptical as to the potential of the song” and Line Renaud who believes on the contrary “the affair decided when it is not so”. The couple will learn a few days later that Bourvil did not retain the song.
Loulou Gasté nevertheless believes in the song at all costs and decides to offer it to his partner Line Renaud. “Since Bourvil doesn’t want it, you’re the one who’s going to record it,” he told her. “Loulou, I can’t record this song, I’m not a comic singer. I can’t, I can’t”, then panics the young singer. “Loulou insisted and said to me: ‘Sing it, it’s going to become a great success’. Which turned out to be correct”, recalls Line Renaud, who built on this title in particular her great fortune.
Line Renaud in Bourvil, Of laughter and tenderness.
A success that Bourvil therefore missed, of which we know little about his two sons, and that he will later regret according to the confessions of the interpreter of My cabin in Canada. “Then, each time I met Bourvil, he said to me with his inimitable voice: ‘Ah, how stupid I was that day!’, she explained.
Line Renaud, now close to Brigitte Macron, tells how the two stars will end up both being crowned with success and one day find themselves on the stage of the Champs-Élysées theater to receive the rewards of the grand prix of the Académie Charles-Cros: he for the song Les crayons and she for My cabin in Canada.