THE 1000 BEST SONGS IN THE WORLD EVER.
178-Edith Piaf-Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
1960-It has never charted in the UK.
Best Bit-At 1.47. ‘Formidable.’
Edith Piaf was born Edith Giovanna Gassion on December 19th, 1915, in Paris, France, she died on October 10th, 1963, at the age of 47, from liver failure, die to liver cancer and cirrhosis, although no autopsy was ever performed. Piaf had been an alcoholic for many years, and was also taking large amounts of medications for rheumatoid arthritis, and insomnia.
Edith Piaf was discovered singing in the Pigalle area of Paris in 1935 by the nightclub owner Louis Leplee (1883-1936) who also gave her her stage name Piaf, which is Paris Slang for ‘The Little Sparrow,’ Piaf stood at only 142 centimetres (4 feet and 8 inches tall.) During her lifetime Piaf became one of France’s most celebrated singers, and since her death her legend has grown even further, with several biographies and films written about her very colourful life. Piaf recorded dozens of songs between 1933-1963, including one her her signature songs ‘La Vie en rose in 1964, to which she wrote the lyrics.
‘Non Je Ne Regrette Rien,’ which in English translates as ‘No I regret nothing,’ was co-written by Charles Dumont who wrote the melody, and Michel Vaucaire, (1904-1980) who provided the lyrics. Dumont and Vaucaire had written the song in slightly different form in 1956, with the French singer Rosalie Dubois in mind, but after that didn’t come to fruition they modified the song with Edith Piaf now in mind. The story goes that Dumont and Vaucaire visited Piaf’s home on October 24th, 1960, where she received them in a very impolite and unfriendly manner. She was furious that her housekeeper Danielle had arranged a meeting with the two men without informing her, so she left them waiting an hour in her living room before she appeared. ‘As you can see I am extremely tired,’ she said to them, very irritated,’Hurry up only one song! Quick to the piano, go ahead,’ she commanded. Nervous and perspiring Dumont sang the song in a low voice. When he finished there was a big silence, as they waited for Piaf’s verdict.Will you sing it again?’ asked Piaf in a sharp voice. When he was hardly half way through, she interrupted him,’Formidable, this is the song I have been waiting for, it will be my biggest success.’
Piaf dedicated her recording of the song to the French Foreign Legion who at the time of recording were engaged in the Algerian War (1954-1962.) The song has since been adopted by the Foreign Legion, and is now sung when the soldiers are on parade. ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’ has been recorded by many artists down the years, and I highly recommend you take time to listen to the English language recording by Shirley Bassey (see also best songs 441) entitled ‘No Regrets,’ which when released as a single in the UK in 1965 reached Number 39.
‘Non, rien de rien, Non, je ne regrette rien. Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait. Ni le mal, tout ça m’est bien égal. Non, rien de rien.’