Four 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 Montmartre, he remembers his artistic life, the early years when he was hungry but happy. According to Aznavour, this song is a farewell to the last days of bohemian Montmartre. 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.

La Bohème – One of the most memorable songs of Baron Charles Aznavour.
Charles Aznavour – La Bohème – Olympia 1968 with lyrics and English translation

Live at Paris’ Palais Des Congrès, 1991.

Charles Aznavour – La Bohème (1991)

Live in Paris, 2004.

harles Aznavour – La Bohème (Paris- 2004)

Update: The German Version

Thanks, Hendrik Krause!

Charles Aznavour – La Bohème, German version

La Bohème Lyrics

French lyrics

Je vous parle d’un temps 
Que les moins de vingt ans 
Ne peuvent pas connaître 
Montmartre en ce temps-là 
Accrochait ses lilas 
Jusque sous nos fenêtres 
Et si l’humble garni 
Qui nous servait de nid 
Ne payait pas de mine 
C’est là qu’on s’est connu 
Moi qui criais famine 
Et toi qui posais nue 

La Bohème, la Bohème 
Ça voulait dire on est heureux 
La Bohème, la Bohème 
Nous ne mangions qu’un jour sur deux 

Dans les cafés voisins 
Nous étions quelques-uns 
Qui attendions la gloire 
Et bien que miséreux 
Avec le ventre creux 
Nous ne cessions d’y croire 
Et quand quelque bistro 
Contre un bon repas chaud 
Nous prenait une toile 
Nous récitions des vers 
Groupés autour du poêle 
En oubliant l’hiver 

La Bohème, la Bohème 
Ça voulait dire tu es jolie 
La Bohème, la Bohème 
Et nous avions tous du génie 

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 café-crème 
Épuisés mais ravis 
Fallait-il que l’on s’aime 
Et qu’on aime la vie 

La Bohème, la Bohème 
Ça voulait dire on a vingt ans 
La Bohème, la Bohème 
Et nous vivions de l’air du temps 

Quand au hasard des jours 
Je m’en vais faire un tour 
À 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 décor 
Montmartre semble triste 
Et les lilas sont morts 

La Bohème, la Bohème 
On était jeunes, on était fous 
La Bohème, la Bohème 
Ça ne veut plus rien dire du tout.

La bohème…

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

La bohème…

Sources

M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, an ex-road racing cyclist and also an amateur musician. I opened andantemoderato.com to share my favorite music.
M. Özgür Nevres

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