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Edith Piaf & Her Life in “Pink”

by Jobie Soo

Il me parle l’a tout bas (He speaks to me softly.)
Je vois la vie en rose… (I see life through rose-colored glasses…)

Photo credit: Opulent Toska

Edith Piaf, the legendary French songstress wrote the song La Vie en Rose in 1945.

Since then, it has been made into seven different versions, covered by influential artists like Louis Armstrong, who popularized the English rendition of the song across the United States.

Before letting you in on Piaf’s life, you will think of this song as a romantic hymn about a French woman falling in love. But the song meant more to Piaf than a love song. Over the ups-and-downs and countless heartbreaks throughout her life, this song is also gift of hope to those, including herself, who thought their life was a lost cause.

 

Life was not all roses for Piaf, on a contrary to the name of the song.

Born in the era of Nazi German, Piaf had a rough and challenging childhood. Her life was a series of unfortunate events, starting from the very moment she was born – her mother abandoned her at birth. Piaf’s father was a struggling street performer at the time who could barely make a living. He later discovered Piaf’s singing talent and performed with her on the street for money.

Two years were all it took for Piaf to find her true calling in singing and performing, enchanting everyone with her soulful voice.

However, everything changed when her father enlisted in the French army to fight in World War I. Her world stopped turning, and she became a lost child, drifting from places to places. Never had a place to call home or anyone to call her family, Piaf decided to stand her ground and make the world her stage. Writing songs about herself and singing her heart out on the streets of Paris became her therapy.

At the age of 20 she was discovered by a Parisian club owner who nurtured her into a professional singer. Even though her career blossomed into success, life struck her again – facing the sudden death of her beloved young daughter and husband. Two strikes did not knock her down when music became her beacon of light, turning her sorrowful tear and heartache into lyrics and melodies. La Vie en Rose was written to erase her pain.

 

Les ennuis, les chagrins, s’effacent (The pain and bothers fade away.)
Heureux, heureux à mourir (Happy, so happy I could die.)

Je vois la vie en rose… (I see life through rose-colored glasses…)

 

We are always told to “make lemonade” when life gives us lemons.

But for Piaf, when life threw her roses, she turned the thorns into words of a beautiful song that saved her from bleeding, into the beat of a hopeful anthem that reminded people to always see life through rose-colored glasses.

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