I have always felt that it took all the control and discipline that we showed in the War for no UKDJ at the height of the Saville scandal to play Maurice Chevalier’s “Zank ‘eavon for leetle girls”. Not least as proof the le vice anglais, mark II ,had crossed the channel. Non, it was never played and that is hardly surprising. For that straw hatted ,blazered , beaming and shuffling crooner who was once the symbol of la belle Parree is today neither heard nor seen in the French metropolis. No picture no sound of the great man while of Johny Halliday the French(and hereto sexual) Cliff Richard they cannot get enough.
So many of the great chanteurs who made us lads as we toiled under rationing and Harold Wilson pine for the City of Light, have gone. At school our beds would heave to the sweet husky sounds of Francois Hardy, my eyes water when I think of that LP going on and its effect. Mais elle est no more.Another air brushed from the modern Paris where the queues for the recently opened Picasso Museum are only matched by the queues outside the cinema for the latest Woody Allen film.
And what of Charles Aznevour. The little man whose gravelly tones soaked a million pairs of knickers. Gone. Juliet Greco whose beauty and freedom epitomised the left bank in its last glorious hey day also no longer seen or heard.
But of course the biggest absence is the heart of the gutsy Paris 1920-60 , that is so much the subject of the great black and white photographers(Capa, Brassai ,Bresson,Doissneau). I talk of course of the little sparrow herself. Edith Piaf. I have just spent another glorious week in Paris and once again not a peep, not a whimper in any bar in any café. Great American classics, the Beatles, the Stones but of Piaf once the life and soul of the Paris party nothing. Rien.
One thing is for sure when Maurice sang in favour of leettle girls he did not have Piaf in mind. Similarly I doubt if Piaf had any regrets about never sharing a concert bill with the old shuffler. Whatever, all gone, flushed down the Paris gutter .
Listen to Non, je regrette rien 26 million others have watched the youtube. The only signature song that comes close is Sinatra’s My Way and that does not come all that close. Like the Paris of my memory its black and white.