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Mon Vieux Lucien [edith Piaf]

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Édith Piaf was born 100 years ago on Saturday, around the same time Einstein made a breakthrough with his theory of general relativity. She arrived at the Hospital Tenon in the 20th arrondissement of Paris on 19 December, though according to her own version of events, she was delivered on the front steps of her home at 72 Rue de Belleville after a horse-drawn ambulance failed to show. If this was fanciful, then France’s most legendary chanteuse didn’t have to embellish the details of the rest of her life, such was the dramatic scope. From growing up in a bordello, to spending four years blinded by keratitis in her infancy, to joining her acrobat father on the road in her teens, to shooting up morphine, cortisone and falling into alcoholism to alleviate a dodgy back sustained in a car crash as an adult (precipitating what she described as her “years of hell”), it certainly wasn’t without event.

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