La Marseillaise and Edith Piaf

 

Something for the weekend.  Rushing Bastille Day a bit, we have Edith Piaf, as a child in a film about her life, singing the French National Anthem.

Without a doubt the greatest French songstress of the last century,  Piaf led a life of tortured immorality, and yet she, by her own account, was  the beneficiary of a miracle.  From three to seven she was blind as a result of keratitis.  She was cured when the prostitutes of her grandmother, who ran a brothel, contributed money to send her on a pilgrimage honoring Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.  On her deathbed, dying an agonizing death of liver cancer at age 47, she had a last moment of moral clarity when her final words were uttered:   “Every damn fool thing you do in this life, you pay for.”  May she now be enjoying in the next world the peace that eluded her in this.

My favorite Piaf song is “Non, je ne regrette rien” (No, I regret nothing) which she dedicated to the French Foreign Legion.  When the First Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment surrendered after their involvement in the failed coup attempt against the government of Charles de Gaulle in 1961, they marched out of their barracks singing this song:

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It is of course impossible for me to have a post in which La Marseillaise is mentioned without including this clip:

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3 Responses to La Marseillaise and Edith Piaf

  • On her deathbed, dying an agonizing death of liver cancer at age 47, she had a last moment of moral clarity when her final words were uttered: “Every damn fool thing you do in this life, you pay for.”

    Never heard that. Interesting given that one of her signature songs was “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”.

  • Ah, but she didn’t say she regretted anything Thomas. She said that she realized that she had to pay for her actions which is certainly a beginning of wisdom. I rather hope that she offered up the pains of her dying as her atonement for her sins.

  • The Marseillaise was made the official French national anthem by the decree of 26 messidor an III, which was the 14 July 1795 in the old calendar.

    It has had a chequered history. The decree of Messidore was abrogated after the Peace of Amiens in 1801. Under the Restored Monarch it was banned outright. It enjoyed and unofficial revival under the July Monarchy (1830), when Hector Berlioz wrote an orchestral and choral arrangement for it, and the Second Republic (1848) It was dropped under the Second Empire.

    The Third Republic re-enacted the decree of Messidore, in 1889, after a two-year deliberation over the authentic words and lyrics

    It was given constitutional status in 1947 and 1958.

    “It is much more than a national anthem” said Léon Blum, “this cry of France prolonged from echo to echo, is a message sung on every continent by the fighters for freedom.”

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