Tuesday, March 27, 2018

C’était Ma Vie: Lys Assia (1924 - 2018)

Lys Assia, La Grande Dame De L'Eurovision passed away this weekend. She was of course the winner of the first ever Eurovision Song Contest, the Grand Prix Eurovision. She participated in three contests, had four entries and was a guest of honour at many Eurovision events in this millennium.

Below are some (edited) exerpts from a Eurocovers post from 2012 when she tried to get to the Eurovision Song Contest one more time with C’était Ma Vie, a song in the Swiss National Selection for Baku.

From 2012: C’était Ma Vie
Switzerland had a very extensive preselection for Baku with well over 200 songs participating in various broadcasters pre-pre-pre voting extravaganzi. (it was held in December 2011)
One artist that of course caught everybody’s attention is Lys Assia, who entered the selection with C’était Ma Vie penned by 'Mister Eurovision' Ralph Siegel with lyrics by 'Mister L’Oiseau Et L’Enfant' Jean Paul Cara.

The song is a big orchestra driven ballad reminiscing of the olden days. It's Lys Assia's My Way or This Is My Life (The Shirley Bassey one). I don't know if there's a place for the rather old fashioned entry in todays Eurovision field, but it's great to see the old gal is still at it.
C’était Ma Vie proceded on to the final and eventually ended 8th.

Eurovision fans will of course know (and some even remember) the Grand Dame / Grand Ma of Eurovision as the first ever winner of our annual music fest. With the song Refrain, written by Geo Voumard and Émile Gardaz, Lys Assia won the initial edition of the Eurovision Song Contest back in 1956.

In 1956 each of the seven participating countries had two songs in the (radio only) competition. Switzerland selected  Lys Assia with Das Alte Karussell (The old Carousel) and the eventual winner Refrain.

The Swiss must have loved Lys a lot as she went on representing the country in 1957 with L'enfant Que j'Étais (The child that I was, 8th place) and in 1958 with her best effort Giorgio (2nd place, brilliant song).

Lys Assia’s biggest hit was not one of her Eurovision songs (although Giorgio did quite well in several pre-historic charts) but her version of the evergreen Oh Mein Papa (First performed by Lys in 1950). Other hits include Arrivederci Roma (1956) Deine Liebe (1957), Ein Kleiner Gold'ner Ring (1961) and Die Sterne Von Syrakus (1962).
Probably Assia's oldest known record release is a 78rpm / Schellac disc from 1942 titled Ich Habe Heut' Ein Kleines Rendez-vous, so her recording career spanned 70 years, from Schellack to Digital and everything inbetween.

Lys Assia Eurovision Discography 

Das Alte Karussell (German)
-  Decca D18271  / 78RPM Telefunken F 46287
Refrain (French)  - Lys Assia 
- EP Decca 1861 (France) / 78RPM 22609 / 7" Decca 19265)
Last night (English version of Refrain)
- b-side to This is my boy (Decca D 18 535, Germany)
Refrain, du goldner Traum aus meiner Jugendzeit (German)
- 78 RPM Decca F 46 266/ 7": Decca 18265/18266 EP Telefunken DX 1861
- German 78 RPM Telefunken F 46287 features both songs in German.
Refrain (1964 recording in medley)
- Adorable Lys EP (DE:Telefunken UX 5193)
Refrain, du goldner Traum…. (2003 version, German)     
- CD Sehnsucht nach dir (Schloss records, CD 95-013)
Refrain (2008, German) & Refrain (2008, French)            
- on CD Refrain des Lebens (Cariblue 14030-2)

L'enfant Que J'étais  (French) 
-  EP DucretetThomson 460 V 370 (France), 7: Telefunken U 55 039, EP: UX 4819 (Germany)

Giorgio (German with Italian parts) 
-  Decca 18762 (Number for most international releases)
Giorgio (full Italian version)
-  Decca 45-C 16530 (Italy)
Giorgio (French)
- EP Duc.-Thomson 460V446 (France), EP Telefunken TFR 424 (Spain)

National Finals
1956 Sei doch nicht so eifersüchtig (German, probably unreleased)
1956 Le bohémien (French, probably unreleased)
1956 Addio bella Napoli (German)
- b-side to Refrain, Du goldner Traum…. (Decca 18266), and on EP Lys Assia International (Decca DX 1861)
Lys Assia also participated in the 1956 German selection, however, details on that selection have never been retrieved. We only know that the song was NOT Ein Kleiner Gold’ner Ring.

1957 Derrière la cathedrale (French, probably unreleased)
1957 Musst du schon geh'n (German, probably unreleased)
1957 Ein trautes lied vom turm herab (German, probably unreleased)
1957 Ça n'empechera pas (French, probably unreleased)
1958 There was a national final in Switzerland but no details have survived. We don’t know if Lys had other songs besides Giorgio in this selection.

2012 C’etait ma vie (French)
- Digital single, Chips records
Can also be found on the 4CD Ralph Siegel: Die Autodiscografie - Meine Stars Für Euch
2013 All in your head (with New Jack, in English), didn’t make it to the final
- Digital single, Jupiter records

In my book there are three Eurovision songs Lys Assia covered. There may be more, as Lys Assia must have recorded about a million songs in the 50’s and sixties.

Italy 1961: Al di là (Betty Curtis)
In Italian with the Dino Olivieri Orchestra
- on EP Philips 431 054, also LP San Remo's greatest hits 1958-1966

Denmark 1963: Dansevise (Grethe and Jørgen Ingmann)
Der Sommer ging voruber (German)
- single Telefunken U 55705

U.K. 1963: Say wonderful things (Ronnie Carroll)
Zwei blaue Vergißmeinnicht (German)
- single Telefunken U 55705
(Both 1963 songs were released on the same single)

Related Eurocovers posts and links
Lys Assia - The Road To Baku
Geo Voumard / Jula De Palma (Refrain)
Flo Sandon's (Refrain)

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