La Vie en Rose

Edith Piaf was a French cabaret singer, songwriter, and actress who became an international sensation. In 1945 Edith Piaf, along with songwriting collaborator Marguerite Monnot and composer Louis Gugliemi wrote what would become Piaf’s signature song: “La Vie En Rose.” At first, the singer and her partners didn’t think much of the song, and offered it to musician Marinne Michel. Michel changed the lyrics and released a version of the song in 1946 that became popular. After performing it in concert, Piaf decided to record the song herself. It was released as a single by Columbia House in 1947, and went on to become a hit. It was met with a warm reception and sold a million copies in the U.S. “La Vie en Rose” translates to “Life Through Rose-Tinted Glasses.” A large reason for the success of the single was the time the record was released. It was released to a ravaged Europe still reeling from World War II. “La Vie en rose” was the song that made Piaf internationally famous.  Its lyrics telling about the joy of finding true love appealed to those who had survived the difficult wartime. Reality was harsh and the song allowed people to temporarily live through rose colored glasses. Since then, many covers of this song have been done and it has been featured in many movies. The song won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998.The song has been covered by many artists including Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and Grace Jones.

English lyrics for the song were later written by Frank Eyton and Mack David. One artist who did a cover of the song in English is Louis Armstrong. Louis Armstrong was one of the most influential figures in jazz music. A trumpet virtuoso he charted a future for jazz in highly imaginative, emotionally charged improvisation. Armstrong began his career beginning in the 1920’s spanned decades, and he was instrumental in shifting the focus of jazz from collective improvisation to solo performance. Armstrong was also an influential singer,with his instantly recognizable gravelly voice. He   demonstrated  great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. I think his rendition of “La Vie en Rose” is a perfect example of this. He is able to set the stage for romance from the opening measures with trumpet. I think he accomplishes by slowing down the tempo a bit. it allows the melody to be more relaxing. Then he begins to sing and his gravelly voice is almost begging you to join in this idyllic experience. Armstrong makes the trumpet sing for most of the song. The romantic lyrics, indelible melody and vibrant sound make the Louis Armstrong version my favorite. 

-Kiana Carrington