Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Non, je ne regrette rien

"Non, je ne regrette rien", meaning "No, I have no regrets", is a French song composed by Charles Dumont, with lyrics by Michel Vaucaire. It was written in 1956, and is best known through its 1960 recording by Édith Piaf.

Edith Piaf was born Edith Giovanna Gassion on December 19, 1915 in Paris, France. She died on either October 10 or October 11, 1963 (the date is frequently disputed) in Cannes, France. 
Edith Piaf stood at only 4'8". 
She was married twice and had one child who died in infancy.
She was a French singer and cultural icon who became widely regarded as France's national popular singer, as well as being one of France's greatest international stars. Her singing reflected her life, with her specialty being ballads. Among her songs are "La Vie en rose" (1946), "Non, je ne regrette rien" (1960), "Hymne à l'amour" (1949), "Milord" (1959), "La Foule" (1957), "l'Accordéoniste" (1955), and "Padam... Padam..." (1951).

Personal life
Legend has it that Edith Piaf was born on the streets of Paris on a cold winter night to a 17-year-old mother who was a café singer and a father who was a street acrobat. Her mother soon abandoned her, and she was sent to live with her paternal grandmother, who was the madam of a brothel. She was completely blind from ages 3-7, and she claimed to have been miraculously cured when the prostitutes prayed for her on a religious pilgrimage.

In 1929, Edith Piaf left the brothel and joined her father as a street performer. At age 16, Edith Piaf fell in love with a young man named Louis Dupont and bore his child. Sadly, their daughter, named Marcelle, died before the age of two of meningitis.
Louis Leplee, the owner of a popular Paris nightclub, discovered Piaf in 1935 and invited her to perform in his club. It was Leplee who gave Edith her nickname, "La Môme Piaf" (The Little Sparrow), in reference to her height. She adopted this as her stage name. Years of touring brought Piaf moderate financial success, but great popularity.

The love of Piaf's life, the married boxer Marcel Cerdan, died in a plane crash in October 1949, while flying from Paris to New York City to meet her. Cerdan's Air France flight, flown on a Lockheed Constellation, crashed in the Azores, killing everyone on board, including noted violinist Ginette Neveu. Piaf and Cerdan's affair made international headlines, as Cerdan was the former middleweight world champion and a legend in France in his own right.

In 1951, Piaf was seriously injured in a car crash along with Charles Aznavour, breaking her arm and two ribs, and thereafter had serious difficulties arising from morphine and alcohol addictions. Two more near fatal car crashes exacerbated the situation. Jacques Pills, a singer, took her into rehabilitation on three different occasions to no avail.

Piaf married Jacques Pills in 1952 (her matron of honour was Marlene Dietrich) and divorced him in 1956. In 1962, she wed Théo Sarapo (Theophanis Lamboukas), a Greek hairdresser-turned-singer and actor who was 20 years her junior. The couple sang together in some of her last engagements.

Death and legacy
Piaf died of liver cancer at age 47 at her villa in Plascassier, on the French Riviera, on 11 October 1963. She had been drifting in and out of consciousness for several months. Her last words were "Every damn fool thing you do in this life, you pay for." It is said that Sarapo drove her body back to Paris secretly so that fans would think she had died in her hometown. She is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris next to her daughter Marcelle, where her grave is among the most visited.

Although she was denied a funeral mass by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Paris because of her lifestyle, her funeral procession drew tens of thousands of mourners onto the streets of Paris and the ceremony at the cemetery was attended by more than 100,000 fans. Charles Aznavour recalled that Piaf's funeral procession was the only time since the end of World War II that he saw Parisian traffic come to a complete stop.

In Paris, a two-room museum is dedicated to her, 
the Musée Édith Piaf (5 rue Crespin du Gast).

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