C'est La Vie

Album: Works, Volume 1 (1977)
Charted: 91

Songfacts®:

  • Works, Volume 1 was a double album with Keith Emerson the focus of the first side, Greg Lake the second, Carl Palmer the third, and the entire band sharing equally on Side 4. "C'est La Vie" was one of the songs Lake wrote for his side with help from lyricist Pete Sinfield, who was his bandmate in King Crimson. Telling the story of the song, Lake said: "I used to live in Paris for a while. A very beautiful city. I sometimes would go out walking in the streets there, and you'd often hear this instrument playing. I don't know what they call it, really, but it's one of these barrel organ things you wind up. It's the sort of sound, it's a bit like a Las Vegas casino. It kind of lives with you.

    Anyway, I'd heard this barrel organ playing. And I walked on back home towards my apartment. I went past this cafe and I heard the voice of Edith Piaf, the famous French lady singer. And when I got back to the apartment I thought, I really would like to write a sort of French song with some French feeling. I don't really speak French, but I knew this phrase, 'c'est la vie,' that's life. And so I thought, That would make a good idea for a song.

    So I wrote this song, "C'est la Vie," and we recorded it and put it onto Works Volume I. However, a couple of years later it was covered by a French singer called Johnny Hallyday. And he's a sort of French Elvis Presley. Anyway, he had a #1 hit with it in France, which as an Englishman, of course, gave me a great deal of pleasure."

Comments: 1

  • Bill from UsYou see kids, in the 70's a lot of young people smoked dope, and they layed around and listened to records on the stereo all night, and that's how we got bands like these.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Michael Schenker

Michael SchenkerSongwriter Interviews

The Scorpions and UFO guitarist is also a very prolific songwriter - he explains how he writes with his various groups, and why he was so keen to get out of Germany and into England.

Jeff Trott

Jeff TrottSongwriter Interviews

Sheryl Crow's longtime songwriting partner/guitarist Jeff Trott reveals the stories behind many of the singer's hits, and what its like to be a producer for Leighton Meester and Max Gomez.

Band Names

Band NamesFact or Fiction

Was "Pearl" Eddie Vedder's grandmother, and did she really make a hallucinogenic jam? Did Journey have a contest to name the group? And what does KISS stand for anyway?

Who Wrote That Song?

Who Wrote That Song?Music Quiz

Do you know who wrote Patti Smith's biggest hit? How about the Grease theme song? See if you can match the song to the writer.

Graduation Songs

Graduation SongsFact or Fiction

Have you got the smarts to know which of these graduation song stories are real?

Top American Idol Moments: Songs And Scandals

Top American Idol Moments: Songs And ScandalsSong Writing

Surprise exits, a catfight and some very memorable performances make our list of the most memorable Idol moments.