Entertainment

1001 Songs Challenge #122: Non, je ne regrette rien (1960)

On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.

My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.

I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.

So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…

 

Edith Piaf – Non, je ne regrette rien (1960)

We’re leaving the UK today and heading across the English Channel into France. It is a second appearance on this list for the legendary Edith Piaf. We previously enjoyed the stunning La vie en rose from Edith and are privileged today to have another of her signature songs. Written by Charles Dumont and Michel Vaucaire in 1956, the 1960 version of Non, je ne regrette rien would become the best known and one that no one else could rival.

Non, je ne regrette rien required me to seek out a translation, of course. Five years of GCSE French at secondary school clearly went down a treat with me! In the song, Piaf takes on a narrator who is looking back on their life and contemplating the good and the bad. They hold their head high and do not lament anything. Piaf sings powerfully and tells us she has no regrets about the past, nothing at all, and the reason she feels this way is she has found love and that is all that matters, the here and now, all begins anew from this moment on. To hell with the past, it is done and cannot be regained so why regret any of it when she feels this happy.

Researching this song I found a wonderful story of how Dumont and Vaucaire, invited without Piaf’s knowledge, visited a very annoyed Edith at her home and she firmly told them to play whatever song they had and be quick about it. The song was played once, Piaf was silent before asking for it to be played again. Before the song went through its second run, Piaf interrupted and said it was wonderful, it was the song she had been waiting for. When she asked Dumont and Vaucaire if she could have the song they agreed immediately. Piaf’s life was one of many highs and lows and Non, je ne regrette rien feels like her testament to the darkest and lightest moments of her life, a firm conviction that through success and pain in her memories she is resolute and has no regrets. Piaf died, aged 47, just three years after singing what is, for me, her masterpiece, better even than La vie en rose. Perfection.

 

Favourite songs so far:

Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel (1956)

Johnny Cash – I Walk the Line (1956)

Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode (1958)

Ritchie Valens – La Bamba (1958)

Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues (1958)

Peggy Lee – Fever (1958)

The Everly Brothers – All I Have to Do Is Dream (1958)

The Shirelles – Will You Love Me Tomorrow (1960)

Johnny Kidd & the Pirates – Shakin’ All Over (1960)

Edith Piaf – Non, je ne regrette rien (1960)

My name is Dave and I live in Yorkshire in the north of England and have been here all my life. I live with my amazing wife, Donna and our cats Razz, Kain, Bilbo, Frodo and Buggles. We had a sixth cat, Charlie, who sadly passed away in 2018.If you love running, books, films, music, writing, theatre, art or are a fellow Barnsley FC supporter then hopefully you will find something of interest here. I’m also hoping that other carers will find a warm welcome in some of the pages here. I will likely blog about MS from time to time but am happy to hear from all whose lives have been affected or even changed by an illness or disability.

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