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Jean Constantin

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Biography

Jean Constantin was a French singer, songwriter, and composer best known for writing Edith Piaf's 1958 song "Mon Manège à Moi (Tu Me Fais Tourner la Tête)" and for composing the soundtrack of François Truffaut's 1959 film Les Quatre Cents Coups. Born on February 9, 1923, in Paris, France, Constantin was primarily active during the 1950s and '60s in both the music and film industries. Charles Aznavour's "À T'regarder" (1955) and Zizi Jeanmaire's "Mon Truc en Plumes" (1956) were among the first instances of his songs becoming popularized. Edith Piaf's 1958 performance of his song "Mon Manège à Moi (Tu Me Fais Tourner la Tête)" would become the most enduring instance of his craftsmanship as a songwriter. Perhaps even more enduring is the soundtrack he composed for François Truffaut's 1959 film Les Quatre Cents Coups (known in English as The 400 Blows), one of the defining films of the French New Wave movement. Among the best-known singers to perform his songs over the years are Yves Montand ("Barcarolette," "Ellington Quarante et Love," "L'Enfant Ébloui," "Le Simple Jardinier," "Ma Gigolette," "Mon Manège à Moi," "Napoli Jolie") and Petula Clark ("Che Sbadato," "En Juillet," "Ne Joue Pas," "Tango de l'Esquimau"). Despite his success as a songwriter and composer, Constantin had little success as a singer himself. Though his solo output is quite obscure, some highlights of it were compiled for release by BMG on the best-of collection Les Plus Belles Chansons (1994). Constantin died on January 30, 1997, in Noisy-le-Grand, Seine-Saint-Denis, France. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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