Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Music and Memory- La Vie En Rose

I was lying down on a lounge swing staring up into the night sky about two weeks ago. That day it had been 102 degrees in the Pacific Northwest and the night seemed to remember the heat. Not one breeze came to ruffle my hair. Not one. And the air seemed to vibrate with a dusky, warm energy and it smelled of dust and pine needles with a hint of blackberry. Every once in a while a mosquito would buzz by my ear.
It was a perfect time to sing. So I did. I hummed just as the warmth hummed on my skin. I hummed as the stars winked at me. The song that came from my mouth was none other than the French ballad La Vie En Rose by Edith Piaf. I didn’t even think about it. The notes found me and the music fit that moment. Perfectly lazy and warm, buzzing with emotion. If that song could have a smell it would smell like that night.

It was a fateful day when I first discovered Edith Piaf’s music. I was working at the library and I was putting away the movie La Vie En Rose. I have a penchant for French movies (one of my favorite movies is Amélie) so I took it home and watched it. I loved it. The movie told the story of Edith’s life from her early childhood until her death in 1963. The best part the film, of course, was the music. I probably would have turned it off if Edith’s music had not spoken to me so deeply.

La Vie En Rose…La Vie is “the life” and En Rose is “in pink.” The life in pink. A change in how you see your life. A way of living your life and viewing the world with rose colored glasses…

Music, especially good music, often brings back memories that I’ve forgotten. Memories that I never thought I held until they surface to be relived in rhythm to a song. The memories are always small insignificant moments, but they always hold the most meaning, the most beauty, the most humanity. They are detailed, but simple things. I remember every sensation being awoken. The smell, the feel, the sight, the hearing, the taste. Everything comes into sharp focus. That night I made another memory. The feel of the rocking and the stars streaking as my body sways with the swing. The sound of my cat pawing through the dried grass. The taste of dust and smoke in the air and the feel of my dry throat hitting the notes of the song. There is beauty in those moments. For it is those small moments that allow us time to be in our own minds. They hold the most reality. I felt so alive, so apart of everything. I felt present with no past, no future, just the now.

Make your own memory and listen to La Vie En Rose…Dance…Sing…Look at the stars…


  1. I wish that I was listening to this whilst sitting upon a checkered blanket at twilight with a mysterious stranger.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Olive. Hmm, a mysterious stranger indeed.