Hold me close and hold me fast
The magic spell you cast
This is La Vie En Rose
When you kiss me heaven sighs
And though I close my eyes
I see La Vie En Rose
When you press me to your heart
I’m in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
And when you speak…angels sing from above
Everyday words seem…to turn into love songs
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be
La Vie En Rose
“La Vie en rose” (French pronunciation: [la vi ɑ̃ ʁoz]; French: Life in pink) is the signature song of popular French singer Édith Piaf, written in 1945, popularized in 1946, and released as a single in 1947. The song became very popular in the US in 1950 with no fewer than seven different versions reaching the Billboard charts. These were by Tony Martin, Paul Weston, Bing Crosby (recorded June 22, 1950),Ralph Flanagan, Victor Young, and Louis Armstrong.
A version in 1977 by Jamaican singer Grace Jones was also a successful international hit. “La Vie en rose” has been covered by many other artists over the years, including a 1993 version by American singer Donna Summer. Harry James also recorded a version in 1950 on Columbia 38768. Bing Crosby recorded the song again for his 1953 album Le Bing: Song Hits of Paris.
The song’s title can be translated as “Life in happy hues,” “Life seen through happy lenses,” “Life in rosy hues”; its literal meaning is “Life in Pink.”
La Vie en rose (May 1945) is a song by Édith Piaf, with music by Louiguy, Édith Piaf being the lyricist, but not the composer, registered with SACEM. It was probably Robert Chauvigny who finalised the music, and when Édith suggested to Marguerite Monnot that she sign, the latter rejected “that foolishness.” It was eventually Louiguy who accepted the authorship of the music. It was broadcast before being recorded. Piaf offered the song to Marianne Michel, who modified the lyrics slightly, changing “les choses” (“things”) for “la vie” (“life”). In 1943, Piaf had performed at a nightclub/bordello called “La Vie en Rose.” Initially, Piaf’s peers and songwriting team didn’t think the song would be successful, finding it weaker than the rest of her repertoire. Heeding their advice, the singer put the song aside, only to change her mind the next year. It was performed live in concert for the first time in 1946. It became a favorite with audiences. “La Vie en rose” was the song that made Piaf internationally famous, with its lyrics expressing the joy of finding true love and appealing to those who had survived the difficult period of World War II.
“La Vie en rose” was released on a 10″ single in 1947 by Columbia Records, a division of EMI, with “Un refrain courait dans la rue” making the B-side. It met with a warm reception and sold a million copies in the US. It was the biggest-selling single of 1948 in Italy, and the ninth biggest-selling single in Brazil in 1949. Piaf performed the song in the 1948 French movie Neuf garçons, un cœur. The first of her albums to include “La Vie en rose” was the 10″ Chansons parisiennes, released in 1950. It appeared on most of Piaf’s subsequent albums, and on numerous greatest hits compilations. It went on to become her signature song and her trademark hit, sitting with “Milord” and “Non, je ne regrette rien” among her best-known and most recognizable tunes. Encouraged by its success, Piaf wrote 80 more songs in her career.
English lyrics were written by Mack David and numerous versions were recorded in the US in 1950. Those that charted were by Tony Martin (reached the No. 9 position in the Billboard charts), Paul Weston (No. 12 position), Bing Crosby (No. 13 position), Edith Piaf (No. 23 position), Ralph Flanagan (No. 27 position) and Victor Young (No. 27 position). Louis Armstrong recorded C’est si bon and La Vie en rose in New York City with Sy Oliver and his Orchestra on June 26, 1950 and this reached the No. 28 position in the Billboard charts. Bing Crosby also recorded the song in French in 1953 for his album Le Bing: Song Hits of Paris.
Jamaican singer Grace Jones covered “La Vie en rose” in 1977 for her debut studio album Portfolio. It was the third and the last single off that album, and at the same time, her first single release on Island Records after having signed with the label.
The single version was heavily edited from its original album version being more than seven minutes long to a 3.5-minute track. Jones’ fairly radical bossa nova interpretation of Édith Piaf‘s signature tune became her first international hit single and a staple of her repertoire. It was later performed as part of her 1981 A One Man Show, then the only track from her disco era to be included in the show. In Spain and Mexico the track was billed as “La Vida en rosa” on the 7″ single release, although it was not a Spanish version of the song. Jones’ recording of “La Vie en rose” was later re-released a number of times in the early 1980s and finally reached #12 in the UK charts when re-released as a double A-side with “Pull Up to the Bumper” in 1985. The single was certified Gold in France and Italy.
Grace Jones about the song: “That’s a very special song to me. Oh God, I cry every time I sing it. I had quite a few French lovers, so every time I sing it I think about them.”
It has sold 158,700 copies in France. The music video for the song was made using the chroma key technique. It presents Grace dancing and singing the song with the famous 1978 montage picture of herself in the background, which was later used for the cover of her 1985 Island Life compilation. The video begins with Grace wearing a rose-patterned coat. Having removed it, the singer dances in a scant gold dress which reveals her right nipple as well as black underwear.