Popular music in the 1930s

Hard times beginning in the 1930s resulted in a wave of nostalgia and romanticization of working-class Paris that was especially evident in film and popular song. In René Clair's 1933 film, 14 juillet [14 July], a character sang:

A Paris, dans chaque faubourg
Le soleil de chaque journée
Fait en quelques destinées
Eclore un rêve d'amour

In every Paris district

The sun, as it rises,
For some brings into blossom

A dream of love

In 1931, Vincent Scotto and Jean Rodor wrote "Sous les ponts de Paris":

Sous les ponts de Paris,
Lorsque descend la nuit,
Comme il n'a pas de quoi s'payer une chambrette
Un couple heureux vient s'aimer en cachette.

Under the bridges of Paris,
When darkness falls,

With no money to pay for a room,

A happy couple can secretly make love.

No one embodied this trend more than Edith Piaf, a singer who rose from working-class origins in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris to become a successful performer. Her most famous songs, "Je ne regrette rien," and "La vie en rose," both date from 1946, but this song from 1936 evokes the world of Parisian street children. The French lyrics and an approximate English translation can be found here.

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