Charles Aznavour – La Bohème

Three different versions of “La Bohème” from Charles Aznavour. I don’t know from what year the first version is (black/white), probably the late 60s. The second version is from 1991 and the third version is from 2004.

La Bohème is a song written by French songwriter Jacques Plante and Armenian-French artist Charles Aznavour.

It was first recorded by Aznavour in 1965. It is Aznavour’s signature song, as well as one of the most popular French-language songs and a staple of French chanson. It became an international hit song in 1965 and was in TOP10 charts of Argentina (No 3), Rio de Janeiro (No 5), France (No 1), Brazil and other countries.

The song is about: a painter recalls his young age Monmartre, he remembers his artistic life, the years, when he was hungry but happy. According to Aznavour, this song is a farewell to the last days of bohemian Monmartre. He also recorded Italian, Spanish, English, and German versions, as well as a rare Portuguese recording. It is performed at virtually every one of his concerts.

The First Version

The Second Version

Live at Paris’ Palais Des Congrès, 1991.

The Third Version

Live at Paris, 2004.

Update: The German Version

Thanks, Hendrik Krause!



Je vous parle d’un temps
Que les moins de vingt ans ne peuvent pas connaitre
Montmartre en ce temps-la accrochait ses lilas
Jusque sous nos fenetres et si l’humble garni
Qui nous servait de nid ne payait pas de mine
C’est la qu’on s’est connu
Moi qui criait famine et toi qui posais nue

La boheme, la boheme.
Ca voulait dire on est heureux
La boheme, la boheme.
Nous ne mangions qu’un jour sur deux

Dans les cafes voisins
Nous etions quelques-uns
Qui attendions la gloire et bien que misereux
Avec le ventre creux
Nous ne cessions d’y croire et quand quelque bistro
Contre un bon repas chaud
Nous prenait une toile, nous recitions des vers
Groupes autour du poele en oubliant l’hiver

La boheme, la boheme.
Ca voulait dire tu es jolie
La boheme, la boheme
et nous avions tous du genie

Souvent il m’arrivait
Devant mon chevalet
De passer des nuits blanches
Retouchant le dessin
De la ligne d’un sein
Du galbe d’une hanche et ce n’est qu’au matin
Qu’on s’asseyait enfin
Devant un cafe-creme
Epuises mais ravis
Fallait-il que l’on s’aime et qu’on aime la vie

La boheme, la boheme.
Ca voulait dire on a vingt ans
La boheme, la boheme
et nous vivions de l’air du temps

Quand au hasard des jours
Je m’en vais faire un tour
A mon ancienne adresse
Je ne reconnais plus
Ni les murs, ni les rues
Qui ont vu ma jeunesse
En haut d’un escalier
Je cherche l’atelier
Dont plus rien ne subsiste
Dans son nouveau decor
Montmartre semble triste et les lilas sont morts

La boheme, la boheme.
On etait jeunes, on etait fous
La boheme, la boheme.
Ca ne veut plus rien dire du tout

English translation

I’m talking of a time
that those under twenty years old
couldn’t know
Montmartre at that time
hung its lilacs up
up till our window
And if the humble decoration (house)
that we used as nest
went unnoticed
(Well) there’s where we met
Me, who cried from hunger
and you, who posed nude

The boheme, the boheme
that means that one is happy
the boheme, the boheme
we only ate one day each two

At the neighboring cafes
we were the ones
who waited for the glory
and despite our poverty
with our empty stomachs
we never stopped believing (that)
and when some bar
for some good hot meal
took a canvas
we recited verses
gathered around the stove
while forgetting winter

The boheme, the boheme
That used to mean that one is beautiful
The boheme, the boheme
and we were all genius

Often it used to happen
I received white nights
before my easel
retouching the sketch
of the stroke of a breast
the outline of a hip
and in the morning
when we finally sat down
before a cafe-creme
tired but satisfied
we weren’t too tired to stop loving each other
and to love life

The boheme, the boheme
That used to mean that one is twenty years old
The boheme, the boheme
and we lived our time

When by chance of the days
I’m going to make a travel
to my old address
I don’t recognize anything
nor the walls, nor the streets
that had seen my youth
atop a staircase
I look for the studio
where nothing has survived
in its new decorating
Montmartre seems sad
and the lilacs are dead

The boheme, the boheme
we were so young, we were so crazy
the boheme, the boheme
it no longer means a thing

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