The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #67071   Message #1118250
Posted By: McGrath of Harlow
18-Feb-04 - 05:38 AM
Thread Name: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
If I didn't think Brel was amazingly good anyway, the fact that Harvey Andrews reckons him would be enough to stop me in my track.

Why there should be something pretentious in admiring the work of a songwriter, apparently just because he writes in French, is a bit bewildering.

People should not be misled by the fact that, for a lot of English speakers, we mostly come across Brel as"co-author" on dire "translations" of his songs into English. For example "Seasons in the Sun", masquerading as a translation of Brel's "Le Moribond". Or Ne me quitte pas , turned into If you go away. Honestly, the originals are totally different, and vastly superior, songs. Just compare them.

So far as Brel is concerned the one song of his I'm aware of as making it across into English, still as a great song is Alasdair Clayre's translation of La Colombe, the Dove. But I may well be wrong here, and Harvey would know better.

(Georges Brassens has been fortunate in that he has escaped these kind of translations - about the only translations I've come across have been by Jake Thackray, and they were pretty good.)