Posted by: gypsytales | March 26, 2009


PIAF by Simone Berteaut

Edith Piaf was a female music icon of the 40’s and 50’s.  Simone Berteaut maintained that she was Edith’s half-sister, although there is speculation to the accuracy of this claim.  When Simone was 14 years old and Edith was almost 16, they met for the first time.  It is believed that they remained inter-woven into each others lives for almost 30 years.  Piaf by Simone Berteaut, was first published in 1970, seven years after Edith’s death.  In her book, Simone’s opening soliloquy reveals her confession,

“For you Edith I have written this book faithfully, without cheating; it contains your laughter and your tears.  Since you died I have been waiting for you to take my hand, but God, the way is long!”

Having spent her formative years in an insalubrious environment, Edith was raised in a brothel by her biological grandmother.  These childhood experiences were the shaping influences that permeated her decision making, life choices and ultimately resulting in an early death. 

Small in stature and plain in appearance, Edith was discovered busking on the streets of Paris.  She quickly gained popularity through her regular singing recitals at the nightclubs of the day.  Her first manager launched her new persona by changing her name to Piaf, which means “The Little Sparrow”.  Her distinctive voice and lyrics resonated with melancholic heartbreak, attracting and repelling the Epicurean’s of French society. 

Emulating her childhood examples it was no secret she shamelessly swathed herself with a legion of men.  Having developed a number of quirks, she loved to knit and more so for her lovers.  Each of them would receive hand-knitted items as tokens of her love and affection.  Sooner or later her lovers would have to succumb to blue suits and crocodile leather shoes, another fetish of hers.  Known for her superstitious rituals, she often held a little rabbit’s foot for luck and from her very first stage appearance until her last, she always performed in a simple black dress.

But fame and fortune came at a high price.  Demanding work schedules, illness, two car accidents and a life characterised by controversy, decadence, hedonism, indulgence, pleasure and pain led to alcohol abuse and later in life morphine addiction. 

It is believed that Edith herself confessed that her licentious lifestyle wore her body out.   She died on the French Riviera in 1963, at the young age of 47.   



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