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     Jacques Brel, I know the tune but I don’t know the original?


The Music of Jacques Brel

has for too long been ignored outside of France and for many he is still an almost unknown artist.

Many of his songs however are very familiar to us, having been translated and recorded by other artists.

La chanson de Jacky - 1966 is a splendid rant of a song dealing with an alleged semi autobiographical theme.

As the evil Jackie despises and charms his way through life getting drunk, sleeping with old women and ends up with his death and playing the harp and seducing virgins. It was re recorded into English as "Jackie" and performed by Scott Walker

His songs have a haunting and disturbing quality and he deals with difficult and unusual subjects. His performances were incredibly passionate and full of emotion, as he acted out many of the gestures and characters of the songs he was performing.

He has a timeless and unpredictable quality. He seems that he may do anything and that he is always singing from the heart. Many of the most innovative artists including David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Scott Walker cite him as a major influence.

Celebrated Jacques Brel songs that you already know.

Amsterdam - a song to the life of the sailors and the whores of the Port of Amsterdam
David Bowie

La chanson de Jacky - familiar to English speakers as Jackie and re recorded in the late 60s by
Scott Walker

Ne me quitte pas - re recorded into English as "If you go away" performed by many artists including  - Tom Jones and Dusty Springfield

Le Moribond Recorded as Seasons in the sun recorded by
Terry jacks.

brel sings

Brief Biography of Jacques brel.

Jacques Brel was born in Schaarbeek, Belgium, a district of Brussels on the 8 April 1929.

His father owned a cardboard factory and Jacques started work in the family business.

However he was more interested in culture and joined a Catholic-humanist youth organisation Franche Cordée, which put on cultural events and this gave Jacques his first experience of singing and acting.

By 1954 he was pursuing a modest international singing career and had moved to Paris. He lived for over half his life although his wife and three children moved back to Brussels by 1959. This always caused much speculation as to the nature of their relationship in the French media.

His songs and music became more complex and his themes more diverse, exploring love society, and spiritual concerns, love, death, and the struggle that is life.

He recorded 15 albums between 1954 and 1975.his first album was Grand Jacques, his last Les Marquises a retrospective in 1977 playing to sell out audiences.

In 1975 he embarked on a plan to take a break and to sail round the world. Unfortunately he became ill whilst he was in the Canary Islands and was diagnosed with lung cancer after having been a heavy smoker for all his life.

He returned to Paris for treatment and then took up the voyage, reaching the marquesa islands where he stayed until he died aged 49 in 1978. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands, only a few yards away from painter Paul Gauguin.


Experiment and enjoy!