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"