Thanks, Charles

Most of us, if asked, would say that we would like to leave the world a better place for our having lived in it, to help others, to make a contribution. This week, coveted Nobel Prizes are being awarded to some who have made outstanding contributions. Most of us are not in that category, but we do strive to make a difference in little ways.

This Friday, France will conduct a ceremony to pay homage to singer Charles Azvanour, who died this week. He was 94. Last week, Azvanour told friends that he wanted to breathe his last on stage and was scheduled to perform in Belgium and France in the next few weeks.

We note his passing because of his enormous contribution to the rest of us. Consider this from his obituary in The New York Times:

“His accomplishments were prodigious. He wrote, by his own estimate, more than 1,000 songs, for himself and others, and sang them in French, Armenian, English, German, Italian, Spanish and Yiddish. By some estimates, he sold close to 200 million records. He appeared in more than 60 films, beginning with bit parts as a child. His best-known film role was probably as a pianist with a mysterious past in François Truffaut’s eccentric 1960 crime drama, ‘Shoot the Piano Player,’ a part that Truffaut said he had written specifically for Mr. Aznavour.”

Charles’ parents started him young, enrolling him in acting school when he was 9. Throughout his long singing career, Azvanour sang songs of loneliness and unrequited love, not unlike Edith Piaf, whom he admired and for whom he wrote songs. The Times reports that he spent nearly eight years working with Piaf as a secretary but never as a lover. The Times also notes that Azvanour continued writing songs all his life. He wrote the score for the musical “My Paris,” based on the life of artist Toulouse-Lautrec, which was performed in the Long Wharf Theater in Connecticut in 2016.

Safe to say that most of us won’t write 1,000 songs or sing as beautifully as Charles Azvanour, but we will make a positive contribution to the lives of others. Every new day gives us that opportunity.

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