Fr : version française / En: english version

mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

Le tube de toilette

Boby Lapointe

© Chappell SA / Polydor

View this work in the Bathing exhibition

The work

Le tube de toilette, released in 1970 on the album Comprend qui peut produced by Joe Dassin on Philips records, is a kind of digest of Boby Lapointe's humor. A totally absurd introduction (a songwriter wants to write a hit... set in the bathroom) sets the scene and offers the key, using words that sound almost like something else as the focus of the song.

Short of inspiration, the songwriter enlists the help of a sidekick who picks up the puns, which would otherwise be incomprehensible. Of course, to hold the listener's attention, the puns become gradually more approximate and were based on sonority:

"Ma face de carême, harassée, CRÈME A RASER
Pour sûr aura ce soir les tics RASOIR ÉLECTRIQUE"

To the extent that, for his rare television appearances, Boby Lapointe's songs had to be subtitled.

The artist

Robert (Boby) Lapointe was born in Pézenas in 1922. A brilliant scholar, particularly in mathematics, he was studying for the entrance examination to the Ecole Centrale engineering school at the start of the war when he was conscripted into the STO (the compulsory labor organization set up during the German occupation), from which he escaped by changing his identity to Robert Foulcan. After the war, he did a series of casual jobs, including deep-sea diving, selling baby clothes and installing TV aerials, while at the same time writing his first lyrics for which he attempted to find singers. Although his style, all puns and approximations, did not arouse much interest. He resolved to sing them himself and met a producer from Fontana while installing an aerial at his home. Then began the hunt for gigs and cabarets. In parallel, he started a film career, playing supporting roles in Tirez sur le pianiste, Les choses de la vie, Max et les ferrailleurs and others, when he met Georges Brassens who helped him a lot. He composed some fifty songs in total, the best known being Aragon et Castille. The breaking wave of French-style rock'n' roll was the reason for the beginnings of success, in spite of support from some unlikely quarters (Joe Dassin produced his last album for example). A mathematician of words (Méli-mélodie, Le papa du papa, Je suis né au Chili, etc.), he nonetheless retained a love of numbers and designed a hexadecimal numeration system called "bibi-binary", praised by certain computer scientists. Boby died of cancer at Pézenas in 1972. And serious people finally started to take an interest in his work...