Our top 10 Édith Piaf songs introduce us to an iconic French multi-genre singer and cabaret performer. Born in 1915, Édith Piaf was discovered by a nightclub owner, Louis Leplée, who would persuade to sing. At the time, Édith Piaf was quite nervous about performing before crowds of people. Her height inspired Leplée to give her the nickname La Môme Piaf (the little sparrow), a moniker that would stick throughout her life.
The nightclub owner is also credited with teaching Édith Piaf basics in stage presence, instructing her to wear black dresses, which became her trademark wear. Later on, Leplée would run an intense publicity campaign that had Édith Piaf perform on her opening night in front of celebrities. Édith Piaf’s nightclub gigs would have her bag her first two records with Marguerite Monnot aiding her lyrics for one of the records.
Édith Piaf was on the verge of losing her musical career after she negative media attention following the murder of Leplée by mobsters with who she had tied earlier. She hired Raymond Asso to help her rehabilitate her image, after which the two would get romantically involved.
Raymond had Édith change her stage name from La Môme Piaf to her famous moniker Édith Piaf. Édith Piaf went on to release smashing singles thanks to Marguerite Monnot, who helped her pen most of her song’s lyrics. Most of the songs Monnot penned for Édith Piaf alluded to Édith’s life on the streets. After an entry into the film industry as an actress, Édith Piaf would later meet Yves Montand, with whom she would have a love affair. She would later write a song for Yves only to break up with him when Yves became almost popular as she was. Here are the top 10 Édith Piaf songs that prove her revolutionary role in the cabaret music genre.
#10 – La Foule
Ushering us into the top 10 Édith Piaf songs is the famous French song “La Foule.” By the time “La Foule” (translated to “The Crowd”) became a reputable French hit, the song was already making moves in Latin America. In Latin America, the song went under the title “Que Nadie Sepa Mi Sufrir,” which translates to “Let No One Know My Suffering.” Édith Piaf would take the song, which dates back to the 1930s, using new French lyrics ending up releasing one of the most famous international renditions ever.
#9 – Avec Ce Soleil
“Avec Ce Soleil” is another great release by Édith Piaf during her prime years. The song’s title translates to “With This Sun,” having the lyrics penned by Jacques Larue and Philippe Gerard. Édith Piaf provides some awe-inspiring vocals that make her a rare gem in the cabaret music genre.
#8 – Hymne À L’amour
You might have heard tons of love songs, but listening to this French love song written from the heart might have you look at love songs in another dimension. Singer Édith Piaf had quite some hard life before she rose to fame. From being abandoned at birth, growing up in a brothel, to giving birth at seventeen out of wedlock, it is quite evident that she had seen a lot in life. The song was penned by Marguerite Monnot, with the title translating to “Hymn To Love.” “Hymne À L’amour” reminds us Marcel Cerdan, who was Édith Piaf’s fiancée despite having him have another wife. Sadly, the iconic boxer and father of three died in a plane crash before he “left” his wife for Édith Piaf. Celine Dion went on to perform this song at the American Music Awards in 2015.
#7 – L’Accordéoniste
“L’Accordéoniste” is one of the best Édith Piaf songs released in 1940. The song was written by Michel Emer, who offered it to the awe-inspiring vocalist Édith Piaf. “L’Accordéoniste” has its lyrics allude to a narrative about a prostitute who loves an accordion player who has to leave for war. The prostitute finds refuge in music, hoping that they will be reunited later.
#6 – Les Feuilles Mortes
Number six on our top 10 Édith Piaf songs is the ballad “Les Feuilles Mortes.” The song was originally composed by Joseph Kosma with lyrics to the song penned by Jacques Prévert. Johnny Mercer would later release the English version of the song whose title translates to “Autumn Leaves.” Édith Piaf is among the many artists who have released a version of this timeless ballad. Other artists to release this song in French or English include Andy Williams, Susan Boyle, Eric Clapton, and Yves Montand.
#5 – Mon Dieu
The song “Mon Dieu” is a 1960 release from Édith Piaf translating to “My God.” While she might have released the song originally in French, Édith Piaf later recorded it in English. Charles Dumont and Michel Vaucaire collaborate on writing the song. Earlier Édith Piaf felt like Charles Dumont’s songs were mediocre but changed her perception after Charles proved him wrong by penning down several hits for her. The song has been performed by tons of other artists, including Mireille Mathieu.
#4 – Padam, Padam…
Written by Henri Contet and Norbert Glanzberg, “Padam, Padam…” is one of the best Édith Piaf songs from the 1950s. Time to time, the song has been described by many as a maddening catchy ballad having it live up to the tag even more than seven decades after its release. “Padam, Padam…” has its lyrics bring a person who experiences music-related memory. The song vividly describes how a given melody evokes in her memories of an ex-lover. It is part of being human! We all can relate to the song having us remember about the same people or something else through some item, sound, or even scent.
“Milord” brought together regular collaborator Marguerite Monnot with Georges Moustaki on songwriting. Also known by some “Ombre De La Rue” (shadow on the street), the song takes us back to Édith Piaf’s life as a youth. Its lyrics point towards a young persona, who is most likely a prostitute to an English guy. While Édith Piaf never confesses to being a prostitute, she shares the agony of growing up in a brothel.
#2 – La Vie En Rose
The hit “La Vie En Rose” is a song famed for its distinctive melody. Édith Piaf penned down the song’s lyrics, having it be her an international breakthrough hit. The song’s title translates to “Life is Pink,” but it alludes to the well-known saying ‘Looking through rose-colored glasses.’ Tony Bennett performed “La Vie En Rose” as a duet with k. d. lang with the song nominated for a Grammys for the Best Pop Collaboration. However, the song lost to “Whenever I Say Your Name” by Sting and Mary J. Blige.
#1 – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien
Number one on our top 10 Édith Piaf songs list is “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.” It is quite amazing and surprising that Édith Piaf had decided to retire in 1960 only to have Charles Dumont and Michel Vaucaire persuade her to head to the studio to record this song. Dumont revealed that Édith Piaf had her attitude change when she heard him play the piano to the song’s beats. The song translates to “No, I Regret Nothing,” words that suit best Édith Piaf’s comeback ballad to music, having this song become her best release.
Photo: Eric Koch / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 Edith Piaf Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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