Friday, January 2, 2009
The great romantics : Jacques Brel
After posting about Roy Orbison a few weeks ago, I thought about all those great romantic singers in the history of popular music.
In my memory, the first is Jacques Brel. Not only in time, but in my life. My parents had all his albums (as well as Brassens').
At 17 or 18, I fell in love with his songs. They expressed so many things you can't put words on when you're a teen : sadness and humor, hope and scorn.
Brel was a storm. His interviews and live performances were astonishing. I think that if I could travel in time just once, I'd go see him at the Olympia in the '60s.
See Brel's biography on AMG
He was the archetypal free bird. At the height of his success, he stopped touring then stopped recording. He learned to drive a boat, and then to fly a plane and then he went for a big trip and ended up in French Polynesia where he settled down and married. When lung cancer struck him, he went back to Paris to record his "swan album", which I think is his definite masterpiece.
Here's my favorite song on this album. Happy new year 2009 while the snow falls on Paris and all is white.
Jacques Brel - La Ville s'endormait(buy)
Of course, Brel was a big influence in French chanson but also in international music : Bowie covered his "Amsterdam", Marc Almond made an album called "Jacques"; But his biggest fan is probably Scott Walker who in turn inspired Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy.
Scott Walker - Mathilde (buy)
Posted by Nicolas