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American in Paris (song)

I am an American.... in Paris
And though I hardly speak the tongue
The love of my life lived here
When she was very young
You can never know how much I love this town

I want to live and die
Where a man could easily cry
For the things that touch his heart so deeply

Je t'aime
C'est la vie
Parlez-vous français?
Parlez-vous anglais
I am an American
I am an American
An American in Pahree

I'm sure you know the price of love is pain
And tragedy that kills us twice again
But did you know that love
Can never... never... never be in vain
Especially for an American in Paris

I've been living in a dream
Believing in this joie de vivre and
The sadness of walking in the rain
As if it could ever kill the pain

I feel like the hunchbach of Notre Dame
Searching for his Esmeralda
With gypsy eyes telling him
You can never be free, you're just like
An American in Paris

I hear the Little Sparrow and Jacques Brel
Breaking through the walls of la Bastille
Each prison of the heart unfolded
In an old hotel
Where a broken heart remembers love

Paris.... how can.... I leave you (emphatic, crescendo)
I do... not deceive you
I love you truly
Deep in the whole of my heart

I am.... an American
In Pahree


Genevieve & daughter in the
little town of Frouard near the
City of Nancy (Lorraine),
France, 1947

Paris is often viewed as the cultural capitol of the world. My interest in Paris centers largely around the eccentric artists, writers, film makers, outlaws and intellectuals of its history. This song was largely inspired by the French half of my blood, coming from my mother, Genevieve. She told me that the love of her life was her father, who she lived with in Paris in the 1930s into the early 1940s in the suburb of Le Perreux-sur-Marne as a little girl years before the above photo.

Genevieve came from a Catholic family and was reportedly prisoner in a German labor camp at age 18 in Wuppertal, Germany from 1944 to Spring, 1945. But she did not discuss the matter openly. During her early years after coming to America, and after my own birth in the USA, she was still extremely French in her manners and accent. She died in April, 2010 after 63 years living in America, but still a French citizen whose medical problems kept her from returning to her beloved homeland.

In April, 2011, less than two months after writing American in Paris, I made my first journey to France. The journey lasted three months. I lived in Paris for seven weeks of that period and did intensive street photography, shooting at least eight thousand high resolution raw digital images and videos all over the city.

Beyond Paris, I traveled to Charleville near Belgium, to explore the home turf of poet Arthur Rimbaud for ten days. Then I went to Lorraine, France where I met and got to know my French relatives for a few weeks.

footnote: The American in Paris song was essentially completed 2011 February 18 Friday (12:47am/night) when the latter half of it was written. Posted online 2011Fe22Tu.

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© Vincent B. Rain

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