Non, je ne regrette rien
|"Non, je ne regrette rien"|
|Song by Édith Piaf|
"Non, je ne regrette rien" (French pronunciation: [nɔ̃ ʒə nə ʁəɡʁɛt 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 1959 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" (No, I will not find anything) and that the song was meant for the popular French singer Rosalie Dubois. But, thinking of Edith, he changed the title to "Non, je ne regrette rien" (No, I do not regret anything).
According to journalist Jean Noli, in his book Edith (Éditions Stock 1973), when Charles Dumont and Michel Vaucaire visited Piaf's home at Boulevard Lannes in Paris, on October 24, 1959, she received them in a very impolite and unfriendly manner. 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. On that day 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, as they waited for Piaf's verdict. "Will you sing it again?" asked Piaf in a sharp voice. When he was hardly halfway through, she interrupted him. "Formidable [Fantastic]!," she burst out. "Fantastic," 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!" Vaucaire, delighted, replied, "Of course, Edith, the song is yours".
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 other performers, including:
- Piaf herself recorded an English version, titled No Regrets.
- Shirley Bassey in 1965, (reaching No. 39 on the UK charts) and on the album Love Songs.
- Karen Akers on her 1981 album "Presenting Karen Akers".
- 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.
- Mireille Mathieu sang the song on "Stars 90" in 1993.
- 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.
- Dina Garipova at the singing competition The Voice – in December 2012
- Raquel Bitton sang "No Regrets" in the film "Piaf..Her story..Her songs" and CD "Raquel Bitton sings Edith Piaf"
- Frances McDormand sang the song during a scene of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.
- "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
- "Nelituj" (Czech) by Světlana Nálepková in 2005
- "Niczego nie żałuję" (Poland) by Michał Bajor in 2011
- "Ne, ni mi žal" (Slovenian) by Aleš Polajnar in 2014
- "No dico no" (Italian) by Dalida
- "No me puedo quejar" (Spanish) by Dalida
- "Nah de Nah" (Spanish) by Javiera Mena
- "Nem, nem bánok semmit sem" (Hungarian) by Vári Éva
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).
- 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 (2008), Valiant (2005), a British animated film about World War II; Inception (2010); and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012).
- The song features prominently in the biographic movie La Vie en Rose, which tells the story of Édith Piaf (portrayed in the film by French actress Marion Cotillard, who won several "best actress" awards for her portrayal of Piaf)
- This song was played throughout the Supernatural episode, "The Vessel" (Season 11, Episode 14)
- A Spanish version of the song performed by Javiera Mena, plays during the end credits of the 2012 Chilean film Young and Wild.
- 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.
- "Hans Zimmer Explains the Intersection Between Edith Piaf and the Inception Score – /Film". Slashfilm. 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2017-11-01.