Archive for June 17, 2016

Rear View Mirror #12: The Poor Surfers of Paris

The Poor People of Paris” is the English name of a French popular song, which was originally titled “La goualante du pauvre Jean” (“The Ballad of Poor John”), with music by Marguerite Monnot and words by René Rouzaud. Edith Piaf had one of her biggest hits with the original French version.

The song was adapted by American songwriter Jack Lawrence in 1954, and he wrote English lyrics, which are considerably different from the French. The English-language title arises in part from a misinterpretation of the French title, as “pauvre Jean” was taken for the same-sounding “pauvres gens,” which translates as “poor people.”

An instrumental recording of the tune by Les Baxter’s orchestra was a number-one hit on the Billboard chart in the US in 1956.

Seeking to continue the song’s history of misinterpretation, it seemed to me that since surfers in France would have to be seriously disadvantaged, a surf-rock arrangement was called for.

June 17, 2016 at 6:17 pm Leave a comment


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