Non, je ne regrette rien
"Non, je ne regrette rien" (French pronunciation: [nɔ̃ ʒə nə ʁəɡʁɛtə ʁjɛ̃], meaning "No, I regret nothing") is a French song composed by Charles Dumont, with lyrics by Michel Vaucaire. It was written in 1956, and is best known through Édith Piaf's 1960 recording, which spent seven weeks atop the French Singles & Airplay Reviews chart.
The composer Charles Dumont tells in the book Edith Piaf, Opinions publiques, by Bernard Marchois (TF1 Editions 1995), that Michel Vaucaire's original title was "Non, je ne trouverai rien" and that the song was meant for the popular French singer Rosalie Dubois. But thinking on Edith he changed the title to "Non, je ne regrette rien".
According to journalist Jean Noli in his book Edith (Éditions Stock 1973), on October 24, 1960, when Charles Dumont and Michel Vaucaire visited Piaf's home at Boulevard Lannes in Paris, she received them very impolitely and unfriendly. Dumont had several times tried to offer Piaf his compositions, but she disliked them and had refused them - the standard was too low according to her. She was furious that her housekeeper Danielle had arranged a meeting with the two men without informing her. So she let them wait an hour in her living room before she appeared. "As you can see I am extremely tired", she said to them very irritated. "Hurry up, only one song! Quick to the piano, go ahead!" she commanded. Nervous and perspiring Dumont sang the song in a low voice. When he finished there was a big silence waiting for Piaf's verdict. "Will you sing it again?" asked Piaf in a sharp voice. When he was hardly halfway she interrupted him. "Formidable [Fantastic]," she burst out. "Formidable," she repeated, "this is the song I have been waiting for. It will be my biggest success! I want it for my coming performance at L'Olympia!" "Of course, Edith, the song is yours," said Vaucaire, delighted.
Piaf dedicated her recording of the song to the French Foreign Legion. At the time of the recording, France was engaged in a military conflict, the Algerian War (1954–1962), and the 1st REP (1st Foreign Parachute Regiment) — which backed the failed 1961 putsch against president Charles de Gaulle and the civilian leadership of Algeria – adopted the song when their resistance was broken. The leadership of the Regiment was arrested and tried but the non-commissioned officers, corporals and Legionnaires were assigned to other Foreign Legion formations. They left the barracks singing the song, which has now become part of the French Foreign Legion heritage and is sung when they are on parade.
The rhymes of the words echo the rhythm of the melody following typical French meter, where words almost always stress the final syllable, in iambic and anapestic compositions. A literal translation is unable to maintain the internal harmony of lyric and tune, since English words usually stress an earlier syllable and are most often suited to trochaic (DA-da-DA-da) and dactylic (DA-da-da-DA-da-da) meter. A variety of English language versions have been recorded. Discussion of their merits is ongoing. The superlative, all-encompassing object arousing the transcendent emotions of the lover singing the song, and the good and bad that the lover has experienced are rendered by the use of the impersonal pronoun (ni le bien qu'on m'a fait / ni le mal: literally neither the good that one did to me / nor the bad; but the construction is usually translated with the passive voice, neither the good that was done to me / nor the bad).
The song has been recorded by many other performers, including :
- Shirley Bassey in 1965, (reaching No. 39 on the UK charts) and on the album Love Songs.
- Bad Boys Blue in 1989, on album "The Fifth" recorded an English version titled No Regrets.
- The rock band Half Man Half Biscuit recorded a 1991 English version titled No Regrets.
- La Toya Jackson in her 1992 Moulin Rouge revue Formidable.
- Emmylou Harris contributed an English version to the 1994 multi-artist "Tribute to Edith Piaf" album.
- Elaine Paige on 1994 album Piaf, released to coincide with her portrayal of the lead character in the play of the same name.
- Brazilian singer Cássia Eller in 2001 Acústico MTV album.
- Vicky Leandros on her 2010 album "Zeitlos" (Timeless) sung in German with the title "Nein, ich bereue nichts" .
- Cajun band Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys on their 2011 album Grand Isle.
- Rammstein included the words to a chorus to their song "Frühling in Paris" on their album Liebe ist für alle da.
- Frances McDormand sang the song during a scene of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.
- Mireille Mathieu sang the song on "Stars 90" in 1993.
- Raquel Bitton sang No Regrets in her award winning Film "Piaf..Her story..Her songs"(on DVD Lionsgate) and in her acclaimed CD tribute to Piaf: Raquel Bitton sings Edith Piaf( The Golde Album
- Dina Garipova at the singing competition The Voice – in December 2012
- Aleš Polajnar recorded the song in Slovenian language in 2014 with the title Ne, ni mi žal
- "Nej, jag ångrar ingenting" (Swedish) by Anita Lindblom in 1961.
- "Ne oplakujem" (Croatian) by Tereza Kesovija in 1962.
- "Ne oplakujem" (Croatian) by Ana Štefok in 1964.
- "Ne, ne žalim ni za čim" (Serbian) by Lola Novaković in 1964.
- "Nej, jag ångrar ingenting" (Swedish) by Gun Sjöberg in 1966.
- "Ne,ni mi žal" (Slovenian) by Aleš Polajnar in 2014
In popular culture
- In the United Kingdom, the song was at one time associated with the former Conservative politician Norman Lamont, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who quoted the song's title to sum up his political career.
- The song was adopted as "a personal anthem" by the former Dutch colonial soldier Johan Cornelis Princen (better known as Poncke Princen).
- Édith Piaf's 1960 recording of the song is sampled in the track "Nique La Police" by Cut Killer which is featured in the 1995 French film La Haine.
- The song is used in many movies, including Bull Durham (1988); Doris Dörrie's German film Keiner liebt mich (1994), titled Nobody Loves Me in English; Babe: Pig in the City (1998); Bernardo Bertolucci's film The Dreamers (2003), the Coen Brothers' film Intolerable Cruelty, the 2005 film Monamour, the 2006 film Piaf Her story Her songs starring Raquel Bitton, the French criminal biopic Mesrine and Valiant (2005), a British animated film about World War II.
- It is featured extensively in Christopher Nolan's 2010 film Inception. Furthermore, the film's main theme is derived from a slowed down version of this song. In addition, Inception's running time of 2 hours and 28 minutes is a reference to the original length of the song, which lasts (on its first recorded edition) 2 minutes and 28 seconds.
- In 2012's Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, the first minute of the song was sung by the antagonist, Captain Chantel DuBois, to inspire her subordinates.
- The film La Vie en rose, a biographical film about Piaf life, ends with her singing the song at the Olympia.
- Archives on "InfoDisc" site. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
- Cooke, James J. (1990). "Alexander Harrison, Challenging de Gaulle: The O.A.S. and the Counterrevolution in Algeria, 1954–1962". The International Journal of African Historical Studies. Boston: Boston University African Studies Center.
- While the officers were interned, they sang a variant of the song using lyrics relevant to their situation, which was recorded and is now available on YouTube. Video on YouTube
- apis, tag (8 November 2009). "Edith Piaf's Non, je ne regrette rien discussion thread". Song Meanings Lyrics website. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- amw1978, tag (26 February 2010). "Edith Piaf's Non, je ne regrette rien discussion thread". Song Meanings Lyrics website. Retrieved 31 July 2010.
- Johnston, Philip (16 March 2004). "It ain't over till the Home Secretary sings". The Daily Telegraph.
- McWilliams, Ed (28 February 2002). "Princen sided with people" (Letter from Ed McWilliams, former US foreign Service Officer). The Jakarta Post.
- "La Haine – Cut Killer "Nique La Police"". YouTube video. 9 March 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2013.
- "Inception Music Comparison.". YouTube video. 22 July 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
- "Inception soundtrack created entirely from Edith Piaf song.". The Guardian. 29 July 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2013.