"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 invited me over to Paris to see him in concert at The Olympia, and in the afternoon, I watched the band call from the stalls. This was early in our relationship, and I was fascinated by his apparently casual, yet meticulous, control of the rehearsal..........the sheer professionalism of the man, missing nothing that any member of the orchestra was playing, his supreme mastery of the whole show, as well as his own performance.
The songs were, of course, in French: and although I recognised many of them, the majority were, at that time, unknown to me.
In the dressing-room afterwards, he asked me what I thought........
"Brilliant!" I said. "And there was one song I particularly liked - the rather jolly up tempo one about Paris", I told him.
He looked puzzled. "A jolly one about Paris?" I don't have a jolly song about Paris".
"Yes!" I said, "the one that goes.........." and I 'da da da daa da -ed' it to him!
A smile slowly widened across his face........
"Aaah, THAT jolly song about Paris! You liked that one?"
"Oh yes, it sounded great fun! Is there an English lyric for it?"
"No", he replied. "That song can never be written in English!. It can't be done!"
So then naturally I said
"Let me have a go..please!" He grinned again.
"I told you, it can't be done......"
"Okay then", he suddenly said. I'll give it to you, then you'll see!"
And a couple of days later, when I received it, I saw alright.......!! That 'jolly' up tempo song was one of his most brilliant examples of the dramatic impact of making the music a complete counterpoint to the content of the lyric!
So I wrote it as soon as I got home to England.!
Aznavour called me......
"Well - what do you think?" I asked him.
And all he said was
"That jolly song that could never be written in English? Well...... I was wrong!"
Truly a case of Aznavour's words being music to my ears!"
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