'Dans Paris y a-t-une brune'
'Dans Paris y a-t-une brune'. A chanson of which several variants exist in Canada. It tells the story of a serving-girl who, wishing to be as pretty as her mistress, a dark-haired beauty, buys some makeup at the apothecary's. The latter advises her not to admire herself while applying it. She follows his advice, and when she meets her suitor he laughs at her black smeared face: she had been sold shoe polish because 'a servant has no right painting her face'.
A notable early published version of the song appears in Ernest Gagnon's Chansons populaires du Canada (Quebec City 1865). Marguerite and Raoul d'Harcourt, in Chansons folkloriques françaises au Canada (Quebec City 1956), give a version with similar words, 'Dedans Paris y a-t-une brune,' but which has a different ending: on Sunday the maidservant waits in vain for her beau 'because he had found her too black in the street'. In the same collection may be found two other versions of the song, one of which bears the title 'C'est dans Paris y a-t-une brune,' but with a very different story. A young wife who looks at herself in the mirror loses her temper because she does not receive the compliments she was expecting from her servant. Then the husband intervenes, reproving his wife for her silliness. There are also four versions collected by Marius Barbeau in the Journal of American Folk-Lore (vol 32, no. 123, 1919) and one by Sister Marie-Ursule in the Archives de folklore (vols 5-6, Quebec City 1951). All versions, it may be noted, make use of a varied refrain. The song served as the inspiration for the first of Leo Smith's Two Sketches for string quartet (1927). Claude Champagne made an arrangement for voice and piano, 'In Paris' (Harris 1961). Joseph Saucier recorded the chanson on 78 (Col E-2364).as did the group Garolou on LP (Kébec-Disc KD-526).