Saturday, November 17, 2007


My best friend's father, Steven, was French-Hungarian who grew up in Paris. Luckily he was able to leave France for America with his brother just before the Nazis took over the country.

He was a fashion designer while still back in Paris and personally knew most of the fashion icons of that time -- from Yves St. Laurent to Balenciaga. In New York, he
thrived as a fashion accessories designer, and discovered the potentials of Geoffrey Beene and gave him his first break.

Immensely enjoying a carefree bon vivant lifestyle as a Manhattan bachelor, it wasn't until he was in his mid-fifties when he married my friend's mother, a fashion model from Chicago who was barely out of her teens at that time. The marriage turned out to be a tempestuous affair that ended in divorce; neither one remarried. My friend grew up dividing his time between two homes, but when school time came, off to boarding school he went.

What I remember most about Steven was his fondness to dine at some of Manhattan's fine restaurants, and oftentimes, my friend and I would be invited to join him. They would sometimes speak in French, especially when involved in some emotional repartee. Steven would also absentmindedly talk to me in French. I never learned to speak it despite their urging, but I somehow learned enough to understand the language so, it was quite all right with me that they conversed in French while I responded in English.

Nonetheless, after dinner one evening as we walked him back to his apartment, I admitted that I would love to learn to speak French even if only to sing Edith Piaf's LA Vie En Rose. Steven's eyes lit up and he began to talk about Piaf who was one of France's most beloved singers. We ended up going back to his apartment for I don't remember how many cups of coffee, but it was way beyond midnight when I went home.

Nonetheless , I didn't have the heart to tell Steven thereafter that although I respected Edith Piaf, it was only her La Vie En Rose that I will always love about her.

The lyrics of this beautiful song I've included below; whereas click
here to listen to it.

La Vie En Rose

Des yeux qui font baiser les miens,
Un rire qui se perd sur sa bouche,
Voila 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 ca me fait quelque chose.

Il est entre 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 jure pour la vie.

Et des que je l'apercois
Alors je sens en moi
Mon coeur qui bat

Des nuits d'amour a ne plus en finir
Un grand bonheur qui prend sa place
Des enuis des chagrins, des phases
Heureux, heureux a 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 ca me fait quelque chose.

Il est entre 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 jure pour la vie.

Et des que je l'apercois
Alors je sens en moi
Mon coeur qui bat

* * *

posted by Señor Enrique at 6:53 AM


Anonymous cacofonix said...

salut monsieur! j'aime "la vie en rose" beaucoup aussi! en anglais c'est....

"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
I'm in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
And when you speak
Angels sing from above
Every day words
Seem to turn into love songs
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be
La vie en rose"


you probably hate edith's guttural voice eh? you gotta agree she sings with a passion though, i think part of her appeal stems from her childhood story and how she got to the top - a real rags to "fame" story (she ended up broke, didn't she?).

anyway, this song became an instant favorite when my French language teacher (who's a cross between George Clooney and Brad Pitt) asked me to lead our class in singing it - never mind that my tongue twisted all over the place....he he he. he then translated it in English, with my eyes never leaving his.....(me) enthralled! hahahaha....

nice story, merci! it transported me to your fine dining nights in Manhattan with your French-speaking friend/s. and voila! the mix of glamour - j'aime la fashion design!

November 17, 2007 8:05 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

I like this song too. Many times, from out of nowhere, it just creeps to me, then I hum it in my mind.

But it made me cry one time when I heard it over on FEN radio (operated by the US military bases, during those years). And I didn't even know what the lyrics meant.

I was in college then - still up at the wee hours of dawn, desperately cramming for a term paper due next day.:) Tapos, sinundan pa ng DJ ng isa pang song: Send in the Clowns by Judy Collins. Very haunting. And I felt desperate that time, thinking of failing grade if I didn't finish the paper. Naku, napahagulgol na ako. haha! Memories.

November 17, 2007 8:34 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comme vous, j'en parle pas Français aussi.

Merci bien. Salamat.

November 17, 2007 3:26 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Edith Piaf! Indeed, one of the best! A monument!

Next time we meet I speak French with you !

November 17, 2007 7:51 PM  

Blogger ScroochChronicles said...

I love this song, even if I don't really understand a single word of the lyrics. It's the melody that gets me. That's why I hated it when some nutty composer decided to "discofy" it and to make matters worse, sinayaw pa sa TV ng isang paseksing dance group!

But despite the fact that the closest understanding of French that I have is Pepe le Pew and French vanilla, I will always manage to swoon when I hear this song...played the proper way :)

November 17, 2007 8:00 PM  

Blogger dave (",) said...

Too bad I hardly understand French, but the English translation made me feel the romance (not that difficult for a hopeless romantic like me). Add to that the passion of the photo.

It has a dance version? Hmm.

November 17, 2007 9:38 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

The melody and title have always captivated me, Dave, since I was very young. And although I've heard the English version, it is the original French version that haunts me so to date. Perhaps, it is the mystery of both the French language and love itself that give this song its impeccable allure.

Yes, Grace Jones did a dance version of it, which I happen to like as well :)

November 18, 2007 6:40 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I wouldn't be surprised if there was a disco version of this song which had become a standard, Scrooch.

From what I heard, many of Piaf's friends didn't see any potential for success for this song when she showed the lyrics which she wrote to her friends. Fortunately, the right person came along who wrote the music for it, and the rest is history.

Truly a gem of a song that will soothe the soul of many romantics :)

November 18, 2007 6:44 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

She was truly an icon, though her life was rather tragic.

My ability to eventually understand my friend and his father when they spoke French had a lot to do with perception as well, Sidney. For the most part, I was familiar with what they they were passionately discussing which enabled me to understand, though in a foreign language.

However, if someone, out of the blue, approached me to say something in French, I probably wouldn't know what to make of it ... hehehe. So, Sidney, let's stick to English :)

November 18, 2007 6:48 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

But you seem adept writing in French, Anonymous, and that proves a more advanced understanding of the language :)

Thank you as well!

November 18, 2007 6:50 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I can understand your reaction to this song, Rhoda. Much like those haunting opera arias, they seem to penetrate my being without my even knowing the story the singer was telling. The melody and the passionate manner it is being sung are often enough to convey the joy or sadness. Kaya siguro napahagulgol ka!

November 18, 2007 6:53 AM  

Anonymous kyels said...

It's one of the best songs that I've heard. Always a favorite!


November 18, 2007 11:05 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Lol ... that must have been surely a nerve-wracking experience in your French class, though exhilarating as well, Cacofonix.

I totally appreciate Edith Piaf, including her story, but much like Charles Aznevour, because most of the catalog were performed in a language too foreign for me, I found them not as accessible. But nonetheless, both French artists I acknowledge as incredibly talented and worthy of great fame.

Besides, America has an abundance of just as equally wonderful female singers such as Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaugh, Etta James, and etc., so that left me with limited opportunities to delve into the recordings of foreign artist beyond those who sing English songs.

By the way, Dinah Krall's jazzy version of La Vie En Rose is worth a listen.

November 18, 2007 12:29 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That beautiful song happens to capture the hearts of many people regardless of age, Kyels -- you happen to be among them :)

November 18, 2007 12:33 PM  

Blogger mtan said...

A movie about Piaf was shown at the recent Eurocinemanila film festival, title is La Mome. You might be able to find a dvd of it.

November 22, 2007 11:04 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, MTan. Yes, I did hear that there was a movie released on Piaf's life. Perhaps, I should see it once I get back to DVD bingeing :)

November 22, 2007 5:52 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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