“non Je N’ai Rien Oublié” – Charles Aznavour

It seems only fitting that with Charles Aznavour’s passing, we should select a song about memory. Aznavour is a French musical legend. In his time, the French-Armenian singer recorded more than 1200 songs. He had a very varied career: a singer, an actor, a diplomat, and a humanitarian. Just his singing career extends across languages and genres of music! He was in the music industry for 70-odd years and gave us hits such as: ‘Non je n’ai rien oublié’, ‘La Bohème’, ‘Emmenez-moi’ and ‘Hier encore’.

‘Non je n’ai rien oublié’ is a song about meeting a lost lover and the feelings of nostalgia that it brings. The sweet memories, the disputes, the break-up. In the song, Aznavour has not forgotten anything and tries to rekindle their lost relationship. Certainly the world will not forget Charles Aznavour and the music he has given to his audiences.

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Je n’aurais jamais cru qu’on se rencontrerait
Le hasard est curieux, il provoque les choses
Et le destin pressé un instant prend la pause
Non je n’ai rien oublié

Je souris malgré moi, rien qu’à te regarder
Si les mois, les années marquent souvent les êtres
Toi, tu n’as pas changé, la coiffure peut-être
Non je n’ai rien oublié

Marié, moi ? allons donc, je n’en ai nulle envie
J’aime ma liberté, et puis, de toi à moi
Je n’ai pas rencontré la femme de ma vie
Mais allons prendre un verre, et parle-moi de toi

Que fais-tu de tes jours ? es-tu riche et comblée ?
Tu vis seule à Paris? mais alors ce mariage ?
Entre nous, tes parents ont dû crever de rage
Non je n’ai rien oublié

Listening to this song is kind of like watching a film or a montage. Aznavour’s lyrics are descriptive of each moment passing between him and the women he has met. Thus he creates a clear narrative in the song: the first encounter, them agreeing to go for a drink, discussing each other’s lives. He intersperses his descriptions with snippets of their conversation, making it easy to imagine the scene playing out before you. Later in the song, he also mentions their past together, creating a sort of flashback effect.