December 1, 2015

20,000 Vinyl LPs 48: Édith Piaf ~ Piaf at the Olympia & Milord

detail from Piaf at the Olympia 

photo by Styrous®

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I started the Vinyl LP series because I have a collection of over 20,000 vinyl record albums I am selling; each blog entry is about an album from my collection. Inquire for information here.   

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This month will be the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Édith Piaf in 1915. One of her songs, Milord, was a landmark in my life at the age of 19 or 20. One of the many albums I have of hers is this concert recording that includes this song. To hear Milord while reading the rest of this, click on this link.      

Piaf at the Olympia 
vinyl LP cover
photo by Styrous®

Piaf at the Olympia was recorded in October, 1962 at the Olympia music hall in Paris, France, during her last concert.    

at the Olympia music hall, Paris in 1961
photograph by Roger Lipnitzki Viollet
Getty images

Olympia music hall 
photobrapher unknown
from Wikipedia

Milord, written by Georges Moustaki, is one of the songs featured on the album. I remember Milord very well as it was the first song of hers I heard. The song also marked one of the turning points in my life. It was in 1960; I was twenty years old and I was about to embark on the journey of discovery of who and what I was.

There are years in a person's life that are turning points; when things happen that will change a life forever. 1960 was one of those years for me; it was as equally profound a watershed for me as 1958 was (see link below).

I was in the bloom of my youth and I heard Milord at a restaurant/bar/cabaret in North Beach, The Paper Doll. It was located on Cadell Place just off Union Street, it was owned by Dante Benedetti, a collegiate baseball coach. I thought the food was terrific; however, I was completely unsophisticated about food at the time, so, who knows if it really was. A steak was $1.65 but my very favorite item on the menu was prawns stuffed with crab meat. Oh, my God! I would go into Ecstasy (capped E intended) when I took a bite of one. The prawns were enormous! I have never seen any as large as them since (perhaps memory has enlarged them). I kept one of the menus for decades and would fondly look it over from time to time until I had to throw it out (with tons of other stuff) when I was evicted from the studio I'd lived in for 30 years in the Mission in 2001 (during the first dot com frenzi). Another story.

I remember a Halloween party there once during which there was a contest for the best costume and drag queens vied for the crown. I was dumbfounded at the scene of men in drag; not just men in the plural, it seemed like there were hundreds. I'd never seen anything like it. I was later to discover Polk Street (way, way, WAY before the Castro). The Paper Doll closed in 1961 and I was heartbroken.

Milord is a 1959 song with lyrics by Georges Moustaki, music by Marguerite Monnot. It is a chanson that recounts the feelings of a lower-class "girl of the port" (perhaps a prostitute) who develops a crush on an elegantly attired, upper-class British traveller (or "milord"), whom she has seen walking the streets of the town several times (with a beautiful young woman on his arm), but who has not even noticed her. The singer feels that she is nothing more than a "shadow of the street" (ombre de la rue). 

The song was a #1-hit (biggest selling song that year) in Germany in July 1960. In UK it reached #24 (1960), in Sweden #1 during 8 weeks (15/6-1/8 1960), in Norway #6 (1959), and in the United States #88 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961 (but I'd heard it earlier, as usual).

There have been many interpretations of the song: Milva of Germany, a Czechoslovakian version by Hana Hegerová, a Swedish one by Anita Lindblom, England's Frankie Vaughan (in which he explains to a man he refers to as Milord that the woman he loves is with someone else and he should forget her, relax, be happy and find another woman). In the US Cher, and even Bobby Darin took a shot at it in 1964, with slightly altered French lyrics, to account for the fact that Darin was a man (the original lyrics were written to be sung by a woman). In-grid sang a remix of Milord in her album La Vie en Rose released in 2004. The song was edited to have a faster speed (read disco) than the original. The Mo-dettes did an interesting post-punk cover of it in 1980 and believe it or not, even Benny Hill managed to mangle it (links to these songs on YouTube below).  

Piaf at the Olympia 
vinyl LP cover back
photo by Styrous®

An exhibition opened on April 14, 2015, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France François Mitterrand, the French National Library, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Édith Piaf (see link below). For the occasion, the BNF – hosts a special exhibition on the private life of the singer through 400 recordings, pictures, letters, lyrics, posters, personal objects and her famous little black dress.

Piaf at the Olympia 
vinyl LP back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Piaf at the Olympia 
vinyl LP back cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

Capitol Records vinyl LP inner sleeve
photo by Styrous® 

Piaf at the Olympia 
photo by Styrous®

Piaf at the Olympia 
vinyl LP  label, side 1 
photo by Styrous®

Piaf at the Olympia 
vinyl LP  label, side 2 
photo by Styrous®

Piaf at the Olympia was released in 1963 on Capitol Records


Side One:

A1     Roulez, Tambours    
A2     Le Diable De La Bastille    
A3     Musique À Tout Va    
A4     Le Petit Brouillard    
A5     Le Droit D'Aimer    

Side Two:

B1     Le Billard Électrique    
B2     Toi, Tu L'Entends Pas    
B3     À Quoi Ça Sert L'Amour    
B4     Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien    
B5     La Foule    
B6     Milord    

Companies etc:
    Mastered At – Capitol Mastering

    Producer [For U.s.a.] – Dave Dexter, Jr.

Recorded in France.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

    Matrix / Runout (Side A): SP1-10368-B2
    Matrix / Runout (Side B): STX-2-10368 J-8
    Other (Mastering Stamp): Mastered By Capitol

Net links:   
Lyrics for Milord      
Edith Piaf á la Bibliothèque nationale de France   

Versions of Milord on YouTube:  
Édith Piaf    
Piaf on the Ed Sullivan show      
Hana Hegerová
Bobby Darin 

Styrous® ~ Tuesday, December 1, 2015 

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