“That’s the city I was born in, grew older and got the fame. Paris has brought me up, but in some
time, you cannot live with your parents any longer. There comes an age, when you want a nature
instead of the city and crowds. Parisian statues are awesome, but its nature is not so fascinating.
However, there are some olive trees in my window. I changed the grey colour into green one.”
Charles Aznavour in the streets of Montmartre in Paris, 1959
Charles Aznavour walking down a street of Montmartre, Paris, 1959
Georges Ulmer, J’ai bu, 1946
That changed in 1946, when the 22-year-old Aznavour was spotted by Edith Piaf,
who invited him to tour with her in the US. “She never gave me any advice,”
says Aznavour with a sly twinkle.
“She gave advice only to the men she loved. But I knew she loved my way
of writing, and that gave me confidence. And she was very funny – not like
she is shown in the movies.”
< Michel Emer, Charles Aznavour, Edith Piaf, Micheline Dax, Roland Avellis, 1951
Eddie Constantine, Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour
Manuel Litran, Charles Aznavour occurs on the scene of a Parisian club in a cellar, March 1956
are my voice, my height, my gestures, my lack of culture and education, my frankness and
my lack of personality.” What prompted this brutal self-analysis?
who you are. Your faults and your abilities – and often you should keep the faults, which
can be very spectacular, and avoid some of the good things.
Even now, I’m in search of who I am.”
The tradition of French chanson is notoriously melancholic, but Aznavour brought gritty street
drama to his lyrics and his performance. “When I write a song, it is as if I write a scene for
a movie,” he says. “The writing is very precise. If I find one word difficult, I don’t sleep
for nights until I find the right one.
Aznavour at the Olympia music hall in Paris in 1971. Photograph: Michel Ginfray
“Travelling is much more important than performing. To meet other people, to see other cultures –
I’m a curious man. Curious because I want to learn, and curious because I’m a very special