During the week I was thinking of my father who passed away a few years ago and I remembered some of the things we did together. One memory that popped into my mind was an outing we took to see a French movie. It was my first year at university, and my first year of French. My dad was pleased that I was learning the language of his childhood and wished to share one of his favourite singers with me.
Her name was Piaf (the little sparrow). She was born in Paris as Edith Giovanna Gassion on 15 December 1915 and abandoned by her mother at two months old. Her father sent her to live with his mother, a madame in a Normandy brothel, while he went to war. After the war he took her with him on his travels while he worked as an acrobat. As a result of the travelling, Edith had little education. At seventeen, she left her father for Paris where she earned her living by singing in the streets and in a seedy cabarets. A proprieter saw her, named her Piaf, and set her on her journey to become a well-loved and successful Parisian singer. However, her personal life was not as successful as her singing career: she had a string of lovers, lost her child when the girl was an infant, and mourned the death of her loved one in a plane crash. To ease her suffering, Piaf became dependent on drugs and alcohol. She lost her fortune in her lifetime and was penniless when she died on 11 October 1963.
The black & white film I saw with my father depicted Edith Piaf’s life and included moments of her singing well-loved songs. I knew most of the songs as I had been listening to them for a year while spending time with my godfather. I have always enjoyed the upbeat tempo of Milord:
My favourite song, though, has always been Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien:
A few years ago, I watched a remake of the film (2007) titled La Vie en Rose . I enjoyed watching it immensely though it did not have the impact of the film I had been to see with my dad all those years ago.
The melancholy in her songs (many of which she composed) reflected the life she had led: a life she had lived to the full. Even today I enjoy listening to her music.
Do you enjoy the music of Piaf, the French sparrow?
(This post is linked to French Friday)