Songwriter, Author & Master Coach
Helping people to write their own tickets to success...

Dee Shipman  Dee Shipman  Dee Shipman

"Every song I have translated is well translated, the one who works on the very difficult songs with me is Dee Shipman. I know her telephone number by heart, and her fax. It goes back and forth - 'No! I don't like this word!' And she comes back and says 'Because you don't understand English!' So I have to convince her and she has to convince me, and the rapport is fantastic." 

- Charles Aznavour

"Charles called me, and asked if I could fly over to Brittany, where he was filming on location...........

They were shooting some scenes in a cafe near Quimper; the front room was the set, and the room at the back was the green room, where the cast came between takes. 

It was at a table here that, sitting with Charles, he told me about this amazing song he'd written, called Autobiographie - and even I could make easy work of translating that title! - and he asked me to write it in English....... while he carried on filming!

So that's what I did. And every now and then, when he came off the film set in the front of the cafe, and into the back, I'd bring him up to date with progress, whispering in each other's ears, so as not to disturb the other scenes being shot!

At one point I was sitting gazing into space when he came and sat down.

"Charles, I'm stuck", I whispered. "I've written myself into a corner...! I've got to where you're singing about the immigrants who were all round you when you were a child, and I can't find a rhyme for 'needle' ".

"That's easy!", he whispered back to me. "Little".

"But little doesn't rhyme with needle!"

"It does when I sing it......... listen!"

And he whisper-sang it to me - and he was absolutely right....... his wonderful accent made it work! So I finished the song by the end of that day's filming, and we went back to the hotel for dinner.........

Some time later, he asked me to go over to New York for the opening of his one man show on Broadway. There was an amazing atmosphere as the celebrity audience took their seats........ and then, with the house lights still up, Aznavour's voice could be heard, before he even made his entrance......... and for 9 minutes, as the audience became hushed, and the lights dimmed for the curtain to rise, Broadway listened to my lyric - Autobiography! 

And I received my first, albeit second-hand, Broadway applause!!




(Dee Shipman / Charles Aznavour)

I came into life in the Latin Quarter
Under Paris skies, in a rented place
The world I saw was penniless, a sorting-shed
Of entertainers, remnants of their race 
Living the past in Russian and Armenian
No futures ahead
Only yesterdays

Father used to sing in the operetta
Blessed with such a voice, I envy it today
My mother was an actress, a soubrette
Their little group could barely pay its way
And from the wings, as though we were on holiday
My sister and I 
Stood watching them play

All those actors had families to care for
But the times were hard, and their French so bad
They had to accept, no matter how little
The first work that came, just to pay their board
Some were driving cabs, others plied a needle
With accents so broad
No job was ignored

Each day after work, these frustrated actors
Came in to rehearse far into the night
Forgetting for a little while that they were poor
Their only pleasure was the weekly chance
To come to life, though shivering with fear
Before an audience of other immigrants

End of every month it was 'beg or borrow'
Fingers blue with cold, hungry for a crust
We often used to go, with shame and sorrow
Into the pawn-shop, where we would entrust
A samovar, some unimportant trivia
Old things of the past
But precious to us

We talked of those left thirsting in the deserts
We'd drink to their souls, and to drown our hurts
The women would sit and silently cry
While each man would sing songs from days gone by
Of another place, and another lifetime
Where there used to shine
Love, and hope, and wine

There would always be many round our table
Everything we had would be shared with friends
My parents used to say "To hell with poverty!
You give, and God will give it back to you!"
It wasn't just a gesture out of charity
They loved everyone...
And the Lord came through!

In an old cafe, working in the kitchen
Father used to cook, as he planned and schemed
For fashion-houses mother would be stitching
As through the night her oil lamp always gleamed
And every day, before we used to leave for school
My sister and I
Went shopping and cleaned

And so I grew up, free as birds above me
Boozing every night, working every day
I've learned all the games that fortune can play
Fallen out with death, fallen in with love
Now my children know when my heart is praying
To capture again
Those days way back when....

Under Paris skies, in a rented place
The world I saw was penniless, a sorting-shed
Of entertainers, remnants of their race
Living the past in Russian and Armenian
No futures ahead
Only yesterdays



All lyrics and all texts are copyright Dee Shipman and no unauthorised use will be permitted