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La Vie En Rose

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La Vie En Rose

A really beautiful French love song is “La Vie En Rose”, which means something like “Life in Rosy Hues” (literally Life in pink). It was the signature song of French singer Édith Piaf.

Legend has it that Edith Piaf was born under a lamp-post in the rue de Belleville, a lively working-class district in Paris's 20th arrondissement. But Edith Gassion's birth on 19 December 1915 was decidedly less dramatic - it appears far more probable that Edith's mother gave birth to her baby in a local hospital.

La Vie En Rose

Her father, Louis Alphonse Gassion, earnt his living as a street acrobat and was rarely at home. Edith's mother, Anita Maillard, spent precious little time with her child either - she was pre-occupied with launching a career as a singer on the local cabaret circuit.

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Little Edith Gassion

 

When Louis Alphonse returned from the war two years later, he decided to send his daughter to live with his mother in Normandy. Edith would spend the happiest years of her childhood growing up amidst farm animals in the countryside around Bernay. But this country idyll soon came to an end when the young girl returned to Paris to live with her father. The father and daughter team would tour the country together for several years, earning their living in the street.

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Edith with accordion

 

Edith left her father at the age of 15 and began singing on the Paris streets while her friend Simone passed the hat round. She proved extremely popular with the crowds, her amazingly expressive voice managing to move even the most impassive listener.

Edith was performing on a street corner in Pigalle when Louis Leplée, the director of a cabaret on the Champs Elysées happened to walk by. Stopping to watch Edith's act, Leplée was absolutely bowled over the young singer's voice and offered her a job on the spot. It was Leplée who would invent Edith's famous stage name, billing his new singer as La Môme Piaf (which in street slang meant little sparrow).

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Louis Leplee

 

In 1936 Piaf recorded her very first 78 rpm single, "Les Mômes de la cloche". In 1940 Piaf met and fell in love with the French actor Paul Meurisse. He acted as a kind of Pygmalion figure in Piaf's life, educating her about French culture and teaching her how to behave in society. By this point in her career Piaf had left her street urchin origins far behind. Indeed, by 1940 the singer had become the darling of Paris's intellectual elite. Piaf would go on to become a close friend of Jean Cocteau.

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Paul Meurisse

 

In the summer of 1944 Piaf would meet a young singer from Marseille by the name of Yves Montand. Impressed by Montand's film star looks and his easy-going charm, it was not long before Piaf fell head over heels in love with the young singer. In 1945 Piaf and Montand would form a famous double act in Marcel Blistène’s film "Etoile sans lumière".

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Yves Montand

 

Later that same year Piaf would try her hand at songwriting, composing "La vie en rose". Piaf's friends and songwriting team were initially rather dismissive of the song, considering it to be weaker than the rest of her set. At first Piaf bowed to their judgement, putting the song to one side, but a year later she decided to perform her own composition at a concert and "La vie en rose" proved an instant hit with the audience.

Encouraged by the phenomenal success of "La vie en rose", Piaf would go on to write 80 more of her own songs throughout the rest of her career.

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Edith Piaf

 

This song, which would go on to become one of Piaf's most popular hits of all time, was originally registered as being written by Louiguy. Louis Guglielmi (3 April 1916 – 4 April 1991) was a Catalan musician of Italian extraction who wrote under the nom de plume Louiguy. He was born in Barcelona.

Louiguy wrote the melody for the Latin jazz composition made famous in English as "Cherry Pink (and Apple Blossom White)", which was recast as a resounding mambo hit for Pérez Prado. He created almost three dozen film scores, beginning in 1946 with La Rose de la mer and including Mourir d'aimer (1970; in English To Die of Love). Among the last was the score for Jean Gabin's final gangster flick, Verdict(1974). He died at Vence.

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Louis Guglielmi (Louiguy)

 

An English version of the lyrics was written later by Mack David. Mack David (July 5, 1912 – December 30, 1993) was an American lyricist and songwriter, best known for his work in film and television, with a career spanning from the early 1940s through the early 1970s. Mack was credited with writing lyrics and/or music for over one thousand songs. He was particularly well known for his work on the Disney films, and for the Édith Piaf's signature song gained much of its familiarity among native speakers of English.

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Mack David

 

Owing to its popularity, the song appeared on most of Piaf's subsequent albums. A 1998 documentary about Édith Piaf was called La Vie En Rose, as was the 2007 biographical feature film La Vie En Rose, which won Marion Cotillard an Academy Award for Best Actress for portraying Piaf in the film from the age of 19 until her death at 47.

The song received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998.

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Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf

 

La Vie En Rose, french lyrics:


Des yeux qui font baisser les miens,
Un rire qui se perd sur sa bouche,
Voilà le portrait sans retouche
De l'homme auquel j'appartiens

Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parle tout bas,
Je vois la vie en rose.

Il me dit des mots d'amour,
Des mots de tous les jours,
Et ça me fait quelque chose.

Il est entré dans mon coeur
Une part de bonheur
Dont je connais la cause.

C'est lui pour moi. Moi pour lui
Dans la vie,
Il me l'a dit, l'a juré pour la vie.

Et dès que je l'aperçois
Alors je sens en moi
Mon coeur qui bat

Des nuits d'amour à plus finir
Un grand bonheur qui prend sa place
Les ennuis les chagrins s'effacent
Heureux, heureux à en mourir.

Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parle tout bas,
Je vois la vie en rose.

Il me dit des mots d'amour,
Des mots de tous les jours,
Et ça me fait quelque chose.

Il est entré dans mon coeur
Une part de bonheur
Dont je connais la cause.

C'est toi pour moi. Moi pour toi
Dans la vie,
Il me l'a dit, l'a juré pour la vie.

Et dès que je l'aperçois
Alors je sens en moi
Mon coeur qui bat

 

La Vie En Rose, Mack David:


Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is La Vie En Rose

When you kiss me heaven sighs
And though I close my eyes
I see La Vie En Rose

When you press me to your heart
And in a world apart
A world where roses bloom

And when you speak angels sing from above
Everyday word seems to turn into love song

Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be
La Vie En Rose

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Edith Piaf

 

Last Updated (Friday, 13 March 2015 18:10)

 

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