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Behind the Brel Mar 27

It was only a few years ago that I first heard of Jacques Brel. He was a Belgian singer-songwriter, famed in France for his complex, poetic songs and energetic performances. Although his songs were nearly all in French, they have been widely translated into English – the best known are Scott Walker’s Jackie (Spotify link), an accurate reflection of Brel’s original, and Terry Jacks’s Seasons in the Sun, which is, erm, less so – the original, Le Moribond, has a markedly darker emphasis.

Scott Walker recorded English versions of a number of Brel’s songs, as did David Bowie. Compare versions of Amsterdam by Walker, Brel and Bowie

Anyhoo, the reason I’m writing about Brel now is to plug Radio 2’s three-part documentary about his life and music, Behind the Brel. You’ve missed episode 1, I’m afraid, but episode 2 is on the iPlayer and episode 3 will be on Radio 2 on Tuesday night at 11.30pm. At the time of writing, obviously. If you’re in the far distant future, you may need to hunt the space internet for a copy of visit your local space library.

You can of course read more about Jacques Brel on teh Wikipedia.

One Response

  1. My main memory of Brel is a song of his called, I believe, ‘Les Bourgeois’, which I used to hear a lot at Tom Robinson gigs in the early ’90s where Tom had translated it freely as ‘Yuppie Scum’.