I first fell in love with Charles Aznavour years ago when I saw him in Shoot The Piano Player. I didn’t know then that he was one of the greatest French singers of the latter twentieth-century. How could I know? In the film, he is so quiet, playing his piano. At 85, he’s still performing concerts, and had appeared in over 6o films.
Aznavour wrote “Une Enfant,” a song as cautionary tale: a young girl of sixteen falls in with the wrong guy, he leads her astray, and she winds up “lying here by the road… DEAD.” It’s on his 1954 album Sur Ma Vie.
Cher sang the song in 1966, which is ironic, since as a sixteen year-old runaway she took up with the older Sonny Bono. Fortunately, Sonny was a good guy.
The English lyrics to the song were written by singer/songwriter/civil rights pioneer Oscar Brown, Jr. Often, Brown composed lyrics for popular instrumental jazz tunes, including Nat Adderley’s “Work Song,” song popularly by Nina Simone. Check out the words of praise this guy received for his first album.
I first heard “A Young Girl” on a great Parrot Records compilation, in which every song was a winner. Noel Harrison’s take on “A Young Girl” really struck me. I’ve always loved Noel Harrison’s deadpan delivery.
Here’s Noel, Rex Harrison’s son, singing “A Young Girl” on British show Hullaballoo.