The songs often have a secret history. Joe le taxi , the first success of Vanessa Paradis, has been inspired by the great lyricist Étienne Roda-Gil (1941-2004), the time of a race in Paris, by the colourful personality of a woman driver, who in the tradition of the taxis de Paname liked to converse with his customers.

This muse iconoclast, the real Joe who knows all the streets by heart, all the small bars and rum to mambo, the well-named Maria-Josée Léao Dos Santos, has passed away at the age of 64 years.

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The inspiration for Joe le taxi was a true figure of the nights of the capital. Of Portuguese origin, she was a refugee in France at the beginning of the 1970s to flee the dictatorship of Salazar. After a few menial jobs, she found her path: to become a “taxi driveuse” to the French. Very quickly, it makes the nights as it is said in the jargon of the drivers. From trendy nightclubs in clubs lesbian – her specialty – she is introducing its customers to the prohibited addresses in Paris. Stunned by his words above, his loquacity, his resourcefulness, the noctambule, the lost of the early morning is assured to spend an unforgettable night in the city of light.

Marie-Josée Dos Santos, a character in the Simenon

She will meet with Etienne Roda-Gil during these wanderings the night. Maria-Josée speaks to him of his life, in long, in wide, in across. A authentic for Simenon. The woes and the joys of life are interwoven. The songwriter understands that he takes the subject of a song. In adjusting his course, he asks him a last question: “It doesn’t bother if I write a song of your life?”. Never bégueule, Marie-Josée will answer him “no”. Joe the taxi had just been born.

The result, it is known. Vanessa Paradis, just 14 years old in 1987, will become overnight one of the stars of the French song. More than three million discs sold in the world, Joe the taxi it is a phenomenon of society. The lyrics of Roda-Gil jazzent still in our heads: In its case the music has Joe resounds It is the rumba the old rock mambo bogus. Vas-y Joe Vas-y Joe Vas-y fonce in the night towards the amazon…

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Joe le taxi sung by Vanessa Paradis in 1987, words by Étienne Roda-Gil, music of Frank Langoff