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A Sad Song in Paris

The hotel was called Normandy Etoile dans Paris. There was a group of tennis players staying there, carrying equipment with the name Dunlop plastered all over it, and going off to play their matches in some kind of international tournament.

Bill Burkett
2 min readFeb 8, 2024


I was walking past the front desk when the concierge received a call that the car was coming for “the U.S. girl who is playing Mlle. — “ I didn’t catch the name, but the tone implied she was a big deal. I got upstairs to lie down and rest my feet from all the walking and gawking, and I heard a high, clear feminine voice singing from two doors down the hall.

At first I thought it was a French radio station, but soon realized it was a woman in the room singing. I had heard a baby crying behind that door when I left earlier, and now thought this seemed like a strange lullaby. The song, as I struggled to interpret the words, took on a lonesome, despairing tone: “why a man must die alone…” I listened and tried to find the words in English. “Night comes on, wild and…” I missed something there. Then the refrain, melodic and haunting: “My love, my love has died today — and now I weep… Why love, why weep, why die?”

The voice gave me a chill that had nothing to do with the cold spring rain through which I had been ambling. I got up and put on some pants and went out into the hall. I really don’t know why — perhaps to hear better.

She paused in her singing and I had a brief fantasy that she would walk into the hall so that I could put a face and form with that heartbreakingly lovely voice. But she didn’t. Instead she resumed singing, this time in English.

The song of love is a sad song, hi lilli hi lilli hi lo. The song of love is a song of woe — don’t ask me how I know…”

The chill got loose and ran all down my spine. My Georgia grandmother called that a fox running across your grave. I knew that song. If this had been a movie and I had been a crooner, I could have chimed in with the next stanza, and drawn her out to me that way.

For a crazed moment I considered trying it anyway, but sanity got the better of me. I just stood and listened, and when she finally grew quiet, I went quietly back into my room and thought about my own reasons for a sad song in Paris.



Bill Burkett

Professional writer, Pacific Northwest. 20 Books: “Sleeping Planet” 1964 to “Venus Mons Iliad” 2018–19. Most on Amazon for sale. Il faut d’abord durer.