This Europe: Lost songs of Piaf discovered in archives of national library

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The title may sound more like a track from Dolly Parton's repertoire than a recording by the French chanteuse. But back in the 1940s "I Don't Want to Do the Washing Up Anymore" would have been a bold feminist declaration.

The track is one of six recorded by Edith Piaf in the Second World War that have been discovered in the National Library in Paris. They were part of a pile of master recordings that the music company Polydor, to whom Piaf was signed, cleared out of its basement in the 1960s to make space. The master tracks were later bought by the National Library and stayed there until 1999, when Universal Music, which owns Polydor, began restoring the masters for a compilation CD. They were then found by two music specialists, Eric Didi and Marc Monneray.

The songs may have lain undiscovered because they were not considered good enough for an album. "Piaf was very demanding of herself, which probably explains why this treasure was never uncovered," M. Didi said.

The "Sparrow of Paris" died in October 1963. Universal has transferred the masters to CD and will release them to coincide with the 40th anniversary.

One track - "La fille de joie est triste" (The Party Girl is Sad) - is an early version of a well-known Piaf song, "Accordeoniste". The others sound true, in name at least, to her nostalgic style: "C'etait si bon" (It Was So Good), "La Valse de Paris" (The Paris Waltz) and "Chanson d'Amour" (Love Song).

The snag for Universal is that all of Piaf's songs for Polydor before 1953 are out of copyright, so they can be reproduced without permission. A case of the record producers seeing red rather than "La Vie en Rose".

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