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Four essential songs for your Piaf repertoire, courtesy of Elsie Parker and The Poor People of Paris

Courtesy of the artist
Elsie Parker and The Poor People of Paris

Elsie Parker and Édith Piaf.
Credit Courtesy of Elsie Parker, Wikimedia Commons
Elsie Parker and Édith Piaf.

Sure, you know La Vie en Rose. How could we not include the song that put the legendary French chanteuse Édith Piaf on the map? But do you know these others? Elsie Parker and Wayne Coniglio of Elsie Parker and the Poor People of Paris, a local band that specializes in popular French music and jazz, shared the backstories of three other Piaf songs you should know on Friday’s “Cityscape” with host Steve Potter. 

“For me, the singer Édith Piaf Piaf embodies what people think are all things French,” said Elsie Parker, the lead singer of the band. “She was a very earthy person and came from the streets. She rose to be one of the most famous stars of any generation in her very short life. She’s kind of like a patron saint, even though she was no saint.”

Parker’s band along with Les Amis, the St. Louis region’s French preservationist society, will host an Édith Piaf Piaf Centennial Concert at the Sheldon next Tuesday.  Piaf was born 100 years ago this December.

1. Milord, 1959

Parker said this song is recognizable to many people for its energetic tune. “A great example from the middle part of her career,” said Parker. “A trademark song.”

2. La Goualante du Pauvre Jean, 1954

This is the song that Elsie Parker and the Poor People of Paris is named for.

3. La Vie en Rose, 1946

This is Piaf's signature song. “A lot of times people think the title of this means something else,” Parker said. “The words it starts off with are ‘When he holds me in his arms and speaks quietly, softly to me, I see la vie en rose.’ I see life in pink, literally. It is not the song, ‘Through Rose Colored Glasses’ or ‘The Life of a Rose.’ The words are kind of unusual and Piaf actually helped write this song unlike many other songs she performed. Her pianist at the time actually discourage her from performing this song, she said the words were terrible. It became one of her biggest successes ever.”

4. Non, je ne regrette rien, 1960

Bassist Wayne Coniglio said this song, which means “I regret nothing,” embodies the French culture of perseverance, which can also be seen through the way Piaf lived her life.

What else should we add to this list? Let us know your favorite Edith Piaf tune in the comments below. Or tweet us at @STLonAir, #Cityscape. 

Related Event

Edith Piaf Centennial Concert

Tuesday, September 22, 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Blvd.

More information

"Cityscape” is produced by Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt and sponsored in part by the Missouri Arts Council, the Regional Arts Commission, and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis.

Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.