One day we had talked about death with her.
It was in 2015. Juliette Gréco had responded with her usual outspokenness.
“I don't really think about it.
What I say to myself is:
Not too late, please.
It doesn't scare me.
Death waited before coming to pick her up, this Wednesday at the age of 93, in Ramatuelle (Var), where she had arisen after decades of concerts and a stroke in 2016 which had weakened her.
Six years ago, she had chosen to leave the stage.
A last tour in 2015 to end in style.
“I want to go standing.
I wouldn't want to be sorry.
I hate that, ”she explained to justify her final shows.
Unlike others who chained false farewells, we believed her.
Because Greco was a woman of her word, straightforward, incorruptible.
Not the type to feel sorry for himself.
VIDEO. Juliette Gréco gets naked for her farewell
Juliette Gréco gets naked for her farewell
A character born very early during the war when, as a child, she found herself imprisoned in Fresnes while her mother, resistant, and her older sister were deported to Ravensbrück.
At the Liberation, she landed at one of her French teachers, close to Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
This is where it all begins for the teenager, ex-little rat of the Opera, who takes drama lessons in a neighborhood full of culture.
She becomes its muse.
Jean-Paul Sartre takes her under his wing, Boris Vian becomes her best friend.
An unknown named Gainsbourg wrote to her "la Javanaise" in 1963. She was the first to sing Brel, to popularize "Jolie Môme", by Ferré in 1961. The singer celebrates the poets - Prévert, Queneau -, falls in love with Miles Davis in 1949 who is about to marry her.
Juliette Gréco and Miles Davis at the Salle Pleyel (Paris VIIIe) in May 1949. Rapho / Jean-Philippe Charbonnier
A mixed history, not to everyone's taste in conservative France at the time.
She did not care, to the point, one evening, of spitting into the hand of a butler who had refused a table to the black musician before seeing the white singer behind him.
Newsletter - Most of the news
Every morning, the news seen by Le Parisien
Your email address is collected by Le Parisien to enable you to receive our news and commercial offers.
With the musician, and somewhat of an actress, especially in the mythical soap opera "Belphégor" in 1965, the fantasy became reality, the legendary stories were suddenly told to you by the one who had lived them.
We were kids then, eyes wide open in front of her magical tales that she never tired of telling like that night of accomplice with Gainsbourg who gave "la Javanaise".
Always paying homage to his friends who missed him.
Never with nostalgia.
“What is past is past.
The only thing that concerns me is earlier, ”she said.
In Chile, she provokes Pinochet
Gréco has always sung in the present tense.
Even when we no longer saw her here, she was there, playing very far from France, sometimes taking risks with her health and her ideas too.
As during a concert in Chile then under the influence of Pinochet.
“I only sang songs that the authorities didn't like, like
the Military Cemeteries
Our passports were confiscated.
The police took us to the hotel, then the next day to the airport, and we were kicked out.
And after that, Gréco returned to France, celebrating every evening its authors, its composers whom she meticulously quoted before each piece, even the best known such as "Undress me" or "I hate Sundays".
"Interpreter, it's a beautiful job", she confided to us in 2003 when young artists like Miossec, Benjamin Biolay and Art Mengo had just written her a new album.
She then received them in her house in Verderonne, a small village in the Oise that she had taken over after her marriage to Michel Piccoli in 1966. A former presbytery, now the priest's house.
A shame for this free spirit, far from the religious tricks.
Upstairs, there was the music room where the singer had recorded “I remember everything” in 2009.
This is where we found the piano on which her husband Gérard Jouannest, who died in 2018, a composer for Brel, became his own in 1968, then her husband twenty years later.
These two were inseparable, driving by car, alone on tour, shopping at Leclerc de Liancourt (Oise), next to their home, where Mme Gréco pushed her cart like everyone else.
Juliette Gréco and her husband, Gérard Jouannest, in their house in Oise in May 2014. Le Parisien
Always in action, movement.
Until time played tricks on him.
She had discreetly treated cancer in 2007, which she mentioned in her autobiography.
“It's painful, annoying.
It's one more fight.
I'm used to it, ”she told us.
Greco always went to the end of his strength. In recent months, she still resisted Ramatuelle. We called her to tell us about her former companion Michel Piccoli who died in the spring. She had politely declined before speaking again this summer in "Télérama" to give some news. Like us, in 2015, the journalist had questioned her about the death. "Are you afraid of it?" The answer had been the same as five years ago "Me?" No. What I'm afraid of is not to be loved. We will love him forever.