SONG: Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
ARTIST: Édith Piaf
Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3Kvu6Kgp88&ab_channel=ondrejtis
“Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” was written in 1956 by French songwriters Charles Dumont and Michel Vaucaire. Originally the title was going to be “Non, Je Ne Trouverai Rien” (No, I Will Not Find Anything) but thinking of Piaf, they changed it. According to legend, the two met with Piaf at her home in 1960 with the hopes of presenting songs to songstress, but she was not impressed at having to meet with them and was very ornery that a meeting had been scheduled without her permission. Piaf acquiesced that Dumont and Vaucaire could show her ONE SONG and one song only, so they showed her “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”. Piaf took to it immediately and declared it would be her biggest hit. She dedicated her recording to the French Foreign Legion and to this day the song is sung when they are on parade. The song has been covered many times in many different languages.
For more information on Édith Piaf, check out our review of La Vie En Rose!
As a result of complications from meningitis Piaf went blind at age 3, but got her sight back 4 years later after the prostitutes at her mother’s brothel pooled their money and accompanied her on a pilgrimage.
Piaf was only 142 centimetres tall, or 4’8”.
Ah, another Piaf. I would say this song is equally as famous, or perhaps just slightly less famous than our previously reviewed Piaf song, La Vie en Rose. From what I can tell from the lyrics, this song is basically the 1960 equivalent of “I don’t care who you are/Or where you’re from/Or what you did/As long as you love me”, but from the other point of view – Piaf basically sings that every mistake, victory, heartache, great love, accomplishment or regret doesn’t matter, because she’s starting at zero with her new love. Again, Piaf’s voice is instantly recognizable – it’s that lamb vibrato – and it’s in play for the first note, the sustained “noooooooon”. Anyway, besides of course the song being in French, the orchestra, melody, entire attitude of the song feels so fucking French. Like how can you not sing this without taking a draw from a Gauloise between verses? The lyrics are relatable too. Who hasn’t felt reborn entering a new relationship, that free, fresh feeling of newborn romance. It’s a great song.
Ah, from the first jaunty little brass background, this song is very recognizable. It’s incredibly cheesy, with harp arpeggios, a full orchestra, and a generalised over-the-topness. Piaf’s voice is so easily recognized and her attitude and approach to this song is at least half of its success. I know it’s probably because it’s such a huge trope but this piece just screams Paris, and I love it for it. I like that the lyrics are much more aggressive than most songs of this time, and I love how unapologetic Piaf sounds. I also like how the melody is so meandering and directionless at times, but still somehow remains memorable. This song deserves to be remembered!
Average mark out of 10:
Other notable versions of this song:
French superstar Johnny Halliday:
Listen with us!
Link to 1,001 Songs to Hear Before You Die spotify playlist:
Link to the Best of the Best 1,001 Songs to Hear Before You Die spotify playlist: