French lyricist Eddy Marnay, who wrote for legendary singers like Edith Piaf and contributed the lyrics for Celine Dion’s first album, died Jan. 3 in Neuilly, Paris, after a long illness. He was 82.
In a six-decade career, Marnay wrote lyrics for about 4,000 songs, mostly for French singers. He was also esteemed abroad: When Barbra Streisand recorded her hit “Evergreen” in French, Marnay supplied the lyrics.
Marnay was born in France’s former colony of Algeria and came to Paris in 1937. He got his big break at the end of the 1940s when he and singer Leo Ferre wrote lyrics for “Les Amants de Paris” (The Lovers of Paris), which was recorded by Piaf.
He also contributed famous lyrics to French hits like the anthemic “Que sera sera” (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) before embarking on a prolific partnership with French composer Michel Legrand that would last through the 1960s.
Marnay wrote French lyrics to Legrand’s composition “Les Moulins de mon coeur,” based on the original English version, “The Windmills of Your Mind,” which was commissioned for the Steve McQueen starrer “The Thomas Crown Affair.” Prior to that he composed the title song for Charlie Chaplin’s 1957 pic “A King in New York.”
Marnay met Canada’s Dion when she was only 13 and quickly recognized her talent. He called her “the divine voice” and wrote the lyrics for her breakthrough album in 1981.
Marnay also held several top posts at France’s Society of Authors, Composers and Music Editors, a union for the music business.