Wow. That was a fruitful life and a ginormously long career. So lets’ not be too sad. Sure it’s always hard to lose someone dear, but he left so much behind for us to enjoy… Here are just a few impressive facts!



How many singers had a 80 year career?

Recorded more than 1,200?

Wrote hundreds of songs for other singers?

Sold 180 million records?

You’ve guessed, I am writing about Charles Aznavour, the French-Armenian singer, who died on October 1st 2018.

And he wasn’t just super famous in France. In fact, did you know that he was named Entertainer of the 20th century by CNN? That he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?



He wasn’t just a singer, but also a lyricist, an actor, and a diplomat! I told you he had lead a full life! I also recommended not being sad but now that I listen to all my favorite C.A. songs while preparing this week’s blog post, I find myself feeling a little sorrowful.



Until I hit this song on my Youtube playlist! This is working, it is cheering me up, so I’m guessing the same will happen to you. You tell me!

The song below called For me, Formidable, is upbeat, playful, and full of sweet little play on words. How many play on words can you spot? And you’ll be happy, I even found a version with all the lyrics.



Adorable, wasn’t it?



Charles Aznavour’s Armenian parents escape the genocide began by the Turkish authorities in 1915 (the map below is from Wikipedia). They arrive in France where they must wait for a visa the family needs to travel to the US. In the meantime, in 1924, little Shahnour (Charles) is born, which decides the family to finally settle down in Paris, where they open a small restaurant popular among artists: singers, poets, actors. How would a child constantly surrounded with such intriguing & magical beings not wish to become one?



He tries his first audition at age 9!

He joins the Théâtre du Petit Monde & meets important people who will help him on his path of fame and fabulousness, including Édith Piaf who decides to take him with her on her national and international tours.


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He begins writing for others and in 1960 he achieves his first triumph with the song Je m’voyais déjà.

Again, you’ll be pleased to be able to listen to the video below while reading the lyrics at the same time.

In other words, sing sing sing along! It’s the best way to celebrate him now!



Charles Aznavour has been an international artist ever since he performed at the Carnegie Hall in New York in 1963. He performed all over the world and was even invited to a Muppet Show episode in 1976 where he sang Inworm:



He sang in several different languages even though his various accents were really quite bad. It didn’t stop wild successes every time. Makes you think twice about your fear of sounding silly when you speak French, doesn’t it? He usually got away with it by making fun of himself. Here’s an example:

I heard a program on the radio the day after he died. He was performing in some NYC venue where he introduced a song he was about to sing in Spanish, and said something along those lines: “Sorry  for those of you who don’t speak Spanish as you won’t understand what I’m about to sing. But then again, those of you who do speak Spanish, won’t understand me either.” I then listened to him and had to admit he was right ha! I may not have guessed he was singing in Spanish if he hadn’t “warned” his audience!



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Armenia, December 7th 1988, 11:41am… 45 seconds later, 25 thousand orphans.

On year later, Charles Aznavour and his Armenian friend & colleague Georges Garvarentz write and compose Pour toi Arménie. This charity song was recorded by a group of popular French singers, actors, and TV presenters to raise funds to help the Armenians who suffered the earthquake. It sold more than 1 million copies.




You know how much I believe in learning a foreign language via music! And I’m a living proof it works because that’s one of the ways I taught myself English from a very young age. I’ve never said that to you before but I started at 6 with cassette tapes and I still remember all the songs… there were the classics such as My Fair Lady but also slightly less classic including one about “fat sausages sizzling in the pan”! Lol.

I used this technique for other languages too so I know it can do wonders!

As always, it’s hard for me to choose one song, so I’ve picked one that equally touches my heart every time I listen to it, even though I’ve done so hundred, and maybe thousands of times.

La Bohème was written by Charles Aznavour in 1965. It tells the story of a nostalgic painter who remembers his youth in the artistic Paris neighborhood of Montmartre. Below you’ll find the video, the French lyrics, and the English translation.



La Bohème by Charles Aznavour

French lyrics = English translation

Je vous parle d’un temps = I am telling you about a time

Que les moins de vingt ans = That people under twenty years old

Ne peuvent pas connaître = would not know

Montmartre en ce temps-là = Montmartre at the time

Accrochait ses lilas = was hanging its lilacs

Jusque sous nos fenêtres = Up under our windows

Et si l’humble garni = and even if our modest furnished

Qui nous servait de nid = That we used as a nest

Ne payait pas de mine = did not look great

C’est là qu’on s’est connu = This is where we met

Moi qui criait famine = Me starving

Et toi qui posais nue = and you posing nude

La bohème, la bohème

Ça voulait dire = it meant

On est heureux = we are happy

La bohème, la bohème

Nous ne mangions qu’un jour sur deux = we only ate every other day

Dans les cafés voisins = In the coffee shops nearby

Nous étions quelques-uns = We were a few

Qui attendions la gloire = Waiting for glory

Et bien que miséreux = and although poor

Avec le ventre creux = With our empty bellies

Nous ne cessions d’y croire = We would not stop believing

Et quand quelque bistro = and when some bistro

Contre un bon repas chaud = For a nice warm meal

Nous prenait une toile = Would take a painting

Nous récitions des vers = we recited verses

Groupés autour du poêle = Gathered around the stove

En oubliant l’hiver = while forgetting the winter

La bohème, la bohème

Ça voulait dire = it meant

Tu es jolie = You are pretty

La bohème, la bohème

Et nous avions tous du génie = And we all were talented

Souvent il m’arrivait = Often I would

Devant mon chevalet = In front of my easel

De passer des nuits blanches = Spend sleepless nights

Retouchant le dessin = Altering the drawing

De la ligne d’un sein = Of the line of a breast

du galbe d’une hanche = Of the curve of a hip

Et ce n’est qu’au matin = and only in the morning

Qu’on s’asseyait enfin = We would finally sit

Devant un café-crème = In front of a coffee with milk

Épuisés mais ravis = Exhausted but happy

Fallait-il que l’on s’aime = We must have loved each other

Et qu’on aime la vie = and loved life

La bohème, la bohème

Ça voulait dire = It meant

On a vingt ans = We are twenty

La bohème, la bohème

Et nous vivions de l’air du temps = we lived from the air of the time

Quand au hasard des jours = When on a random day

Je m’en vais faire un tour = I go for a walk

À mon ancienne adresse = To my old address

Je ne reconnais plus = I no longer recognize

Ni les murs, ni les rues = Neither the walls, nor the streets

Qui ont vu ma jeunesse = That witnessed my youth

En haut d’un escalier = At the top of a stairway

Je cherche l’atelier = I look for the studio

Dont plus rien ne subsiste = Of which nothing remains

Dans son nouveau décor = In its new setting

Montmartre semble triste = Montmartre seems sad

Et les lilas sont morts = and the lilacs are dead

La bohème, la bohème

On était jeunes = We were young

On était fous = We were foolish

La bohème, la bohème

Ça ne veut plus rien dire du tout =  It doesn’t mean anything anymore

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