“Edith Piaf by Balasko. Journey into the intimacy of a tumultuous life”, on France Musique: the work and days of “la Môme”

It’s like a passing of the baton

“Edith Piaf by Balasko. Journey into the intimacy of a tumultuous life”, on France Musique: the work and days of “la Môme”

It’s like a passing of the baton. From Piaf to Balasko, a cheeky and poetic France is heard in this series of France Musique podcasts.

Josiane Balasko’s voice lends itself masterfully to that of the legendary singer of La Vie en rose and L’Hymne à l’amour. Doesn’t “La Balasko” itself embody a France that is both popular and steeped in nobility, from the good friend of Les Bronzés to the concierge of Le Hérisson (2009)?

She literally slipped into the character of “la Môme”, resurrected by the author of the podcast, Marianne Vourch, who made a book from it (The Intimate Journal of Edith Piaf, Editions Villanelle, 96 pages, 24 euros) .

These seven episodes of around ten minutes allow us to share the joys and sorrows, the work and the days of the music hall and variety singer who has become an icon of eternal France. We (re)discover the incredible list of encounters she made, and who made her, throughout her short life (she died at age 47, in 1963).

Meaning of the formula

Everyone knows her love stories, with Yves Montand, whom she ends up leaving ("you must not wait for love to end, you must leave before...", she would have said), and especially with the boxer Marcel Cerdan, who disappeared while crossing the Atlantic in 1949 in the crash of the plane she had asked him to take rather than the boat so that she could find him as quickly as possible.

But who knew that she met Jean Mermoz, who gave her flowers? That Jean Cocteau found his artistic name for him in 1937, suggesting to the young Edith Giovanna Gassion to add to his nickname “Piaf” – “it sounds too cabaret”, he said – his “pretty first name”? That Marlene Dietrich – “the unforgettable interpreter of The Blue Angel”, sighs Balasko – was a witness at his wedding in New York in 1952? That Dwight D. Eisenhower himself, who came to see her on stage, like Greta Garbo, Orson Welles, Judy Garland, sang to her some old popular songs in perfect French? That she was ordered – in vain – by the Kommandantur, during the Occupation, not to sing My Legionnaire?

Besides the voice, Edith Piaf had a sense of formula. Charles Aznavour (one of his revelations, with Montand)? “This kid has a genius cow! With the voice of a guy whose lungs have just been ripped out, he seems to cry in his songs..." True or false, the diary of the woman who said, at 16, "I am free; free to lie down, to get drunk, to dream” (episode 2)? No matter, the main thing is that we believe in it. And we believe it. We’re excited to hear Aya Nakamura…