Saturday, November 28, 2009



Pour Jacqueline et Sonia, avec l'amour et la misère noire*


I told my friend Jackie that Big Sis, My Sharona and I are going to Paris next fall. Jackie's mom was a Parisienne of Armenian descent, so Jackie has the look of a wild-maned gypsy and speaks dramatic, almost guttural French, complete with the exaggerated hand gestures.
Ever since I told her, she's been talking about Edith Piaf non-stop. I always just considered Piaf the epitome of an aging French chanteuse, but Jackie insisted I listen to her music. She burned me a special Edith Piaf CD, just knowing I'd be driving to Austin for Thanksgiving.
So I listened as I drove and bristled at first, but kept at it until a few little hooks caught my attention. And I started sort of liking her more, the more I listened.
I told my Parisienne friend Sonia about it and she went wild (as wild as she could via e-mail) and said she loved the song, "Non Rien de Rien, Non je ne Regrette Rien," but my French is so horrible I couldn't pick those words out of any of the songs on the burnt CD. I had to You Tube it.
I told Jackie that I'd enjoyed the CD, so she started telling me I must see the movie, "La Vie En Rose" as soon as possible. She offered to have me over to see it on her computer, but I doubted a small screen viewing would enhance it any. I mean, the subtitles would have read like 6-point type.
I mentioned the movie to Big Sis, who'd seen it but still got excited and offered to rent it for Thanksgiving night. Hell yeah, I said.
Imagine my shock to discover that Edith Piaf was France's Judy Garland, or like England's Amy Winehouse. The movie was a delicious bummer: huge losses followed by petit triumphs. She was a mess!
So now that I've listened to some of her music and seen her movie biography, I'm a little obsessed with her. Even though I can only hum to her songs and have no idea what she's going on about, she makes me feel a little French by proximity.
I know I'm awfully late to the Edith Piaf party, but what about you, do you like her?

*Apologies to J.D. Salinger's "For Esme, with Love and Squalor"

12 comments:

Fran said...

I like her funky-French-of-that-era style and she has always reminded me of Paris, a place that I have loved since my first visit in 1979.

She is also a bit sad and that whole huge loss/petit triumph thing.

And those songs, who knows what they say, I just love those songs.

Karen Zipdrive said...

I suspect that translating them would be anticlimactic.
I prefer to make up what they mean, ya know? ;)

Shelley T said...

Is it possible to be just a little obsessed? I hope so, 'cause I think that aptly describes my own relationship with the Little Sparrow (as Piaf is sometimes called) since seeing "La Vie en Rose" when it was in theaters. Tragic life, but what a talented lady.

Dusty said...

I love this song, but never got into the singer.

It's a trip..she has her hands clenched into fists through the entire song, only opening them at the end.

Karen Zipdrive said...

She was only 4'9" and from the rough streets of Paris, so I imagine she had to clench her little fists a lot.

Distributorcap said...

the only thing i know about Piaf is that she buried near Jim Morrison, Frederic Chopin, and Maria Callas

i went to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, because whenever i go anywhere i have to visit someone's grave

plus the morrison grave is a hoot and well worth the visit.

LOL

Karen Zipdrive said...

Wow D-cap, I was just taking the virtual tour of Pere Lachaise.
We are a lot alike. When I go anywhere major I visit at least one cemetery and one grocery store. Morrison's grave looks like shit with all that litter all over it, but Piaf really knew how to be interred in style!

Dusty said...

I love visiting cemetery's. One of my fave's is the big one in Boston at the old North Church.

KZ, post the linky for the French cemetery please?

Karen Zipdrive said...

Sure thing, Dusty.
Try http://www.paris.org/Expos/PereLachaise/
or just Google Pere Lachaise cemetery and you'll find everything you need to know.
The city of Paris is more than 2,000 years old, so some bigshots from ancient history are buried there.
Even that old butch dyke Gertrude Stein is buried there.

Dusty said...

Gertie is buried there? Interesting. Yep I bet they have a lot of famous and infamous folks buried in Paris.

Thanks for the link..I will check it out shortly as Sunday night foosball is starting up and I am watching the news to get the latest on Tiger woods getting beat up by his wife. ;p

Lulu Maude said...

My favorite waif.

herisson said...

Oscar Wilde as well !