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Jacques Brel - what's it all about?

Related threads:
Tribute to Jacques Brel Radio 4 Thurs am (9)
Lyr/Chords Req: Port of Amsterdam (30)
Lyr Req/Add: Ballade en novembre (Jacques Brel) (23)
Lyr Req: Seasons in the Sun (R McKuen, J Brel) (13)
Lyr Req: Seasons in the Sun (38)
Seasons in the Sun??? (17)
Jacques Brel anyone? (32)
Link(s) to Jacques Brel? (10)
Obit: Jacques Brel, Il est Mort ... (46)
Lyr Add: Ne Me Quitte Pas (If You Go Away) (2)


GUEST,Christine Hanson 18 Feb 04 - 03:15 AM
GUEST,Davy 18 Feb 04 - 03:32 AM
harvey andrews 18 Feb 04 - 04:45 AM
Dave Hanson 18 Feb 04 - 04:48 AM
harvey andrews 18 Feb 04 - 04:50 AM
The Shambles 18 Feb 04 - 04:58 AM
harvey andrews 18 Feb 04 - 05:01 AM
Steve Parkes 18 Feb 04 - 05:11 AM
GUEST 18 Feb 04 - 05:16 AM
The Shambles 18 Feb 04 - 05:21 AM
Dave Hanson 18 Feb 04 - 05:21 AM
harvey andrews 18 Feb 04 - 05:25 AM
Wolfgang 18 Feb 04 - 05:29 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Feb 04 - 05:38 AM
The Shambles 18 Feb 04 - 05:49 AM
Dave Hanson 18 Feb 04 - 05:57 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Feb 04 - 06:02 AM
GUEST,Davy 18 Feb 04 - 06:26 AM
mooman 18 Feb 04 - 06:43 AM
Dita 18 Feb 04 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,Christine Hanson. 18 Feb 04 - 10:56 AM
MAG 18 Feb 04 - 12:01 PM
alanabit 18 Feb 04 - 12:09 PM
harvey andrews 18 Feb 04 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,Christine Hanson 18 Feb 04 - 12:46 PM
harvey andrews 18 Feb 04 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,Van 18 Feb 04 - 02:34 PM
GUEST,moocowpoo 18 Feb 04 - 03:10 PM
John MacKenzie 18 Feb 04 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,Henryp 18 Feb 04 - 04:02 PM
GUEST 18 Feb 04 - 04:22 PM
michaelr 18 Feb 04 - 06:55 PM
Sunga 18 Feb 04 - 07:24 PM
michaelr 18 Feb 04 - 07:33 PM
Frankham 18 Feb 04 - 08:48 PM
DonMeixner 19 Feb 04 - 12:10 AM
Mark Cohen 19 Feb 04 - 05:16 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Feb 04 - 07:00 AM
JJ 19 Feb 04 - 07:43 AM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Feb 04 - 07:50 AM
GUEST,Dunkle at school 19 Feb 04 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,Sacha Distel 19 Feb 04 - 09:32 AM
GUEST 19 Feb 04 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,leeneia 19 Feb 04 - 05:57 PM
Compton 19 Feb 04 - 07:44 PM
Maryrrf 19 Feb 04 - 07:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Feb 04 - 08:03 PM
MAG 19 Feb 04 - 08:43 PM
DonMeixner 19 Feb 04 - 09:43 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Feb 04 - 10:17 PM
DonMeixner 20 Feb 04 - 12:06 AM
GUEST,moocowpoo 20 Feb 04 - 09:33 PM
musicmick 21 Feb 04 - 01:56 AM
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Subject: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,Christine Hanson
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 03:15 AM

What is it about Jacques Brel songs? I hear them sung in clubs in French and not speaking French they don't mean a thing to me and they sound ghastly anyway. I think it is oooh, so, pretentious to foist this kind of stuff on audiences in folk clubs, and despite being championed by singers like Robb Johnson and Barb Jungr, I really don't see what the appeal is, whether sung in English translation or in French. Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,Davy
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 03:32 AM

I just like them! They have an honesty that appeals.A correct translation of Seasons in the sun is refreshingly realist!


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 04:45 AM

Well Christine, if you don't get it, you don't get it.Personally speaking, for anyone interested in song as an art form and a way of expressing human feeling and thought Brel is just about the greatest ever.However, each to their own.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 04:48 AM

Whaaaat!!!!?
pretentious crap.
eric


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 04:50 AM

So you don't get it either Eric. Ah well!


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 04:58 AM

I think that it would be fair to say that there is a little bit of snobbery involved here. Not that this is the songwriter's fault - he just happens to be French. That fact does not make his songs automatically better than those of non-French speaking songwriters. It does not make them worse either.

For I feel that the snobbery is from both sides and that we should not take it out on the songwriter just because some of his supporters are motivated by snobbery. An objective view of his work is required but is difficult to obtain.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 05:01 AM

Shambles, explain what you mean by snobbery as opposed to opinion please.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 05:11 AM

And what you mean by French as opposed to Belgian!

Here are a couple of threads which may enlighten you, Christine:
Ne me quitte pas
Seasons in the sun

Steve


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 05:16 AM

Can't be Snobbery with me cos I learned and sang his songs without knowing whos they were! If you don't like them then ok, but I do.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 05:21 AM

If you serve up an ordinary English dish and give it a fancy French (or Belgian) name, some folk are prepared to pay a lot of money for it.

That is the snobbery to which I refer.

Some folk will refuse to eat any food with a fancy French (or Belgian) name but will eat the same dish served up at home.

That is also the snobbery to which I refer.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 05:21 AM

I quite like Brel Harvey, I enjoy provoking people also.
eric


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 05:25 AM

Bastard! (LOL)


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 05:29 AM

The labeling effect for me too can't explain why I love Brel's songs. I first encountered them in German translation on a recording by a German. I considered all the songs on that record as good but three of them as brilliant. I then looked up the author of these songs and each of these three was originally by Brel. Then only I bought Brel recordings in French.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 05:38 AM

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.)


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 05:49 AM

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

Now I am a little bewildered - are you saying that it would NOT be a litle pretentious to admire the work of a songwriter apparently just because he writes in French?


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 05:57 AM

Harvey, who told you my middle name?
eric


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 06:02 AM

The "just because" in my sentence referred to the "thinking it pretentious", rather than to the "admiring".

Obviously, as you commented Shambles, the kind of snobbery you mentioned is pretentious. Admiring things because they are, for example, French, is not very different from sneering at them for the same reason.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,Davy
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 06:26 AM

The amazing thing is that even poor translations are so popular.
The one I like is Amsterdam, either by Denver, or Bowie.
Jon Harvison does a version of Seasons based on a better translation.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: mooman
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 06:43 AM

Mostly Brel doesn't thrive in translation and really has to be listened to in the original French (it helps to know some French here!) where many of the songs then are real pearls.

Incidentally, Jacques Brel was born in Brussels, Belgium in 1929 and went to live in France (thereafter his "adopted" country) at about age 24.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Dita
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 06:46 AM

I first encountered Brel in the sixties, sung by Scott Walker on his albums. Liked it then still do.

Don't speek french so have had to make do with translations.

Pretentious? Moi?


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,Christine Hanson.
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 10:56 AM

In terms of Art Song and human expression and feelings, I think probably Schubert, Wolf and Richard Strauss are probably in a higher league than Brel. I'm not sure that you don't do them a disservice in saying that he is probably the greatest ever. However you need singers with better voices than you find in your usual folk club to get the best out of their songs! Also a fluency in German. As to snobbery I do believe that there some performers who see themselves as elitist and they home in on something that makes them feel a bit Hipper-Than-Thou, and when it becomes popular they move on to something else they can be elitist and cliquey about. This is why Donegan moved on from "My Old Man A Dustman" to such art songs as "World Cup Willie" and "Beans in my Ears".


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: MAG
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 12:01 PM

Fred Holstein's version of "Port of Amsterdam" is/was to blow you away. Depressing, but masterful. First time I ever got a glimpse of what Brel was all about.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: alanabit
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 12:09 PM

The thing I have noticed which seems to be uniquely British is the boorish dismissal of songs written in another language. I have, on occasion in Germany, encountered howls of outrage from compatriots when I have dared to sing a song in German! I think it has something to do with the thick headed refusal of some Brits to learn a second language.
My French is pretty miserable, but I like Brel's work very much. I think his songs mean a bit more if you can actually get to see some film of him performing them. He was a wonderful performer and his mannerisms and body language put over so much more in what was a very stylised way of performing. I guess there are people who (quite reasonably) don't like Brel. However, a lot of the criticism I have heard smacks of that, "I don't want to be clever like no bloody foreigner..." attitude of so many Brits. I don't like opera and I know nothing about it, but I am not proud of my ignorance.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 12:13 PM

Songs as an art form...not Art song.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,Christine Hanson
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 12:46 PM

Well then if you like, in terms of song as an art form, I still hold to what I wrote. Each to his or her own taste but Brel dosn't move me.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: harvey andrews
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 02:24 PM

Fair enough Christine, but certainly the lyrics of the songs you quoted are not their strength.Brel deals with real life, sometimes brutally,whereas the lyrics of art songs seem more mannered.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,Van
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 02:34 PM

It's a pity you don't understand French and that some translations used the tunes and turned the words into trashy pop songs.
He is one of the best songwriters - easily up there with Dylan, Cohen etc. Learn French well enough to understand what he is saying, experience life enough to feel what he is feeling, or give up and listen to Beyonce.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,moocowpoo
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 03:10 PM

Can you really rate a song when you don't know what it means?
I don't know what they mean and I do really like a couple of Jacques songs for the emotive quality of his singing. I have heard quite a few of his songs that I don't like the sound of (the lighter souding, fluffy ones) but I don't know what they mean so I can only go on the sound....   One French singer who I'm pretty obsessed with at the moment sounds, in my mind like he was strongly influenced by Jacques brel (but has dark melodies that appeal more to me, sort of twisted carnival music) is..........yann Tiersen. Yann wrote (almost)all the music for the film Amelie and his other stuff is also AMAZING!, He has a lot of songs on the other albums. Songs like, 'a ton etoile are so stirring, but all his music is where, Jacques only does it for me with a few songs.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 03:51 PM

Brel is wonderful, but the aforementioned George Brassens was superb.
John 'Im not a snob' MacKenzie!


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,Henryp
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 04:02 PM

Brel wrote in Flemish too.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 04:22 PM

Dave Van Ronk, my late friend and guitar teacher, did several magnificent Brel songs in English translation. Most particularly "Port of Amsterdam."


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: michaelr
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 06:55 PM

That's the second mention of "Port of Amsterdam".

Could someone please post the lyrics (in English)?

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Sunga
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 07:24 PM

Here you go, Michael. One of the most powerful songs I know. Incidentally, I first became a Brel fan about 15 years ago, and, up until a year or so ago, had only heard the english translations.

In the port of Amsterdam
There's a sailor who sings
Of the dreams that he brings
From the wide open sea

In the port of Amsterdam
There's a sailor who sleeps
While the riverbank weeps
With the old willow tree

In the port of Amsterdam
There's a sailor who dies
Full of beer, full of cries
In a drunken down fight

And in the port of Amsterdam
There's a sailor who's born
On a muggy hot morn
By the dawn's early light

In the port of Amsterdam
Where the sailors all meet
There's a sailor who eats
Only fishheads and tails

He will show you his teeth
That have rotted too soon
That can swallow the moon
That can haul up the sails

And he yells to the cook
With his arms open wide
Bring me more fish
Put it down by my side

Then he wants so to belch
But he's too full to try
So he gets up and laughs
And he zips up his fly

In the port of Amsterdam
You can see sailors dance
Paunches bursting their pants
Grinding women to paunch
They've forgotten the tune
That their whiskey voice croaks
Splitting the night with the
Roar of their jokes

And they turn and they dance
And they laugh and they lust
Till the rancid sound of
The accordion bursts
Then out to the night
With their pride in their pants
With the slut that they tow
Underneath the street lamps

In the port of Amsterdam
There's a sailor who drinks
And he drinks and he drinks
And he drinks once again

He drinks to the health
Of the whores of Amsterdam
Who have promised their love
To a thousand other men

They've bargained their bodies
And their virtue long gone
For a few dirty coins
And when he can't go on

He plants his nose in the sky
And he wipes it up above
And he pisses like I cry
For an unfaithful love

In the port of Amsterdam
In the port of Amsterdam

Cheer,
Sunga


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: michaelr
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 07:33 PM

Thank you Sunga! A powerful song.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Frankham
Date: 18 Feb 04 - 08:48 PM

Christine,

I think that Brel defines a European point of view about the
struggles in life. Many of his songs carry a sub-textual meaning.
He is a commentator on a personal level but also on a political
one. There is a kind of world-weariness in his songs that may
not reach some folks who haven't experienced a lot of suffering or grief. The songs are passionate and not in the least pretentious
but I can see that there is a possibility that they can be
misinterpreted by some performers and as such come off as phony.

They are cabaret songs in the manner of Edith Piaf. I think of them
as songs that might be sung by jazz singers such as Billie Holiday
in the tradition of "Lush Life" or "Strange Fruit".

The French expression "tranche de vie" comes to mind. Slice of life in the way you see a Gorky play or hear a down and out blues
about the inequities of life.

Brel is an acquired taste and when he is interpreted well, the
impact is unmistakeable.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 12:10 AM

The Brel songs I have heard in english I understood very clearly and I liked them. The ones I heard in French I couldn't understand, being typically American and Mono-lingual. Then I heard Amsterdam in both French and English, The original language song was still not understandable by me and I can't tell you if it was superior to the English version or vice versa.

This gets back to thread from days long ago when I stated that I felt doing a song in a language you know your audience doesn't speak and doesn't understand is not only arrogant but it is insulting. I thought so then, I think so now. But I will add some qualifiers that I didn't have in the earlier post.

People from one culture going to a different culture and demonstrating their art. Native throat singers from Tibet for instance or Navajo chanters from Arizona demonstrating their traditional music and folklore. These folk should be supported and sanctified as Carriers of a dying tradition.

But when the local Diva in the Folksong society who speaks no French beyond her learning Le Moribond phonetically from the record and says "this is the only way Brel should be sung" she should be pointed at and spoken of behind her pretentious back.

Don


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 05:16 AM

For the record, that translation of "Amsterdam" is by Mort Shuman. It was one of the songs in the show, "Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris", which was a revue of Brel songs translated by Shuman, and performed by him, his wife Elly Stone, and two other singers whose names I've forgotten. I think that some of Shuman's translations were excellent, and the show was a joy to see and hear. (It was revived some years ago, as "Jacques Brel Is...", since he was no longer alive and well.) I had the good fortune to see the show in Philadelphia in the 70's with Elly Stone, who was breathtaking.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 07:00 AM

A more literal translation of "Amsterdam" was given in thread 3230, also much closer to the thoughts expressed by Brel in this great poem-song that he first presented in 1964. Amsterdam
Translation Marie de Grazia (with slight modification by Wolfgang and others) Six Songs by Brel


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: JJ
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 07:43 AM

Mark, the translation of "Amsterdam" is by Mort Shuman and Eric Blau. Blau is married to Elly Stone. The original cast of JACQUES BREL also featured Alice Whitfield and Shawn Elliott.

The film version, with Shuman, Stone and Joe Masiell (and a cameo appearance by Brel singing "Ne Me Quitte Pas") has just come out on DVD. I remember it as being pretty awful from seeing it thirty years ago, but the songs are good.

Brel's songs in these versions burned through my twenties...


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 07:50 AM

You don't need to understand all the word to understand a song. With Geoirges Brassens, for example, I believe there are plenty of French people who don't understand all the words and the idioms he uses.

Often enough with a song it can be years after I've been enjoying hearing it, before I actually make sense of the details of what is being sung, and that can apply just as much in English as in a foreigh language.

If we turn a deaf ear to people singing in laguages we don't understand, we turn a deaf ear to most of the music of the human race. We should never fool ourselves that any translation can ever tell us the whole story and give us the whole picture.

Sometimes a translation can be a great song in itself ("The Dove"). More often it can give us the key to making sense of the original. Very rarely indeed can it do both things at the same time. Translating songs is hellishly difficult, and as Rod McKuen demonstrated in the case of Jacques Brel (eg "Seasons in the Sun", "If you go away"), it is all too easy to make a complete Cod's arse of it.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,Dunkle at school
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 09:18 AM

As a language teacher I've long been of the opinion that having direct access to songs in a second language - in my case, French and Spanish - is a sufficient reason in and of itself for learning that language. Brel and Brassens are only two of many (dozens? hundreds? thousands? brazilians?) examples. My life has been enriched by the music of Michel Rivard, Maxime LeForestier, Renaud, Boris Vian, Edith Piaf, Leon Gieco, Los Fronterizos, Pablo Milanes, Juan Luis Guerra, Carlos Mejia Godoy...the list goes on and on!
(Nobody has mentioned Brel's sense of humor - how about "Les Bourgeois"?)
So, if you're someone who has learned to appreciate songs in a second language, how about sending a note of thanks to your old language teacher?
Dunkle


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,Sacha Distel
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 09:32 AM

jacques Brel? he's bloody rubbish he is!


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 09:43 AM

Now then Slacha don't get upset.
eric


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 05:57 PM

I enjoy Brel's music, but I do feel sympathy for the person who started this thread. A person who takes over the stage at a folk club and sings a song people don't understand is sending the message "I don't care if YOU participate."


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Compton
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 07:44 PM

No one in this thread has mentioned the influence Brel had on Jake Thackery..who for a time sat at the knee (and other low joints!)of Brel..Jake admitted that Brel was a great influence...Perhaps if there was no Brel, there wouldn't have been Jake (Life, Jim, but not as we know it!)


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 07:52 PM

I totally agree with Dunkle. I speak French and Spanish and have been grateful over the years for the access it has given me to music in those languages. To that list I would add (and there are more) but these come to mind - Charles Aznavour, Georges Moustaki, Joan Manuel Serrat, Silvio Rodriguez, Victor Jara, Inti Illimani, Mercedes Sosa, Susana Rinaldi - so many greats!


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 08:03 PM

A person who takes over the stage at a folk club and sings a song people don't understand is sending the message "I don't care if YOU participate."

Well, that'd bugger up Sean Nos singing in Gaelic, wouldn't it? Or Klezmer, or... I agree, this kind of thing has to be done with some sensitivity. But that doesn't mean there should be some obligation to pretend English is the only langauge around. Which of course it isn't, even in Anglophone countries.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: MAG
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 08:43 PM

Someone else who likes (let alone has heard of) Inti Illimani! Up with Nuevo Cancion!

If you haven't heard of it, thank the people who tried to ban certain Andean folk instruments in the relevant countries.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 09:43 PM

McGrath you are correct that English isn't the only language. And your example is fair and honest. But it also presupposes that the Sean Nos singer in gaelic knows what the words are and speaks language as well. It also supposes that the Klezmatiste speaks Yiddish if they are singing a song in Yiddish.

BUT, how does the audience who doesn't speak the language be sung at it know for certain that the singer is singing a ballad of great folk loric import or just melodically calling the audience a bunch of fuckin' idiots and smiling sweetly as it is done?

Don


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Feb 04 - 10:17 PM

Well, they'd be unlikely to sing the song too well if they were thinking that. And after all, it's perfectly possible to think like that and sing songs in English.


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 20 Feb 04 - 12:06 AM

Right you are again Mc Grath, right you are. :-)

Don


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: GUEST,moocowpoo
Date: 20 Feb 04 - 09:33 PM

Why does everything have to be in ENGLISH??. The meaning of a song is not ONLY conveyed in its lyrical content. A tune is no accident, it is written to convey mood   (wheather it is written first or not). Tonal quality and expression in voice is also a factor in delivering meaning and feeling. Songs are not as one-dimensional as being primarily about 'the words'(they are very important, of course but not everything)   From these other elements In a song I have often guessed the emotion of a song and found i've been pretty close to it on perusal of the lyrics. My musical world would would be incomplete if it weren't for- le mystere des voix bulgares, Varttina, Muzikas, Yan tiersen They all have as much place in a folk-club as a sea shanty band, bush-music or diddle de de(all of these, I also like)


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Subject: RE: Jacques Brel - what's it all about?
From: musicmick
Date: 21 Feb 04 - 01:56 AM

The "translations" in Jaques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris were by Mort Shuman and Eric Blau in conference, concurance and colaboration with Brel, himself. It is true that great liberties were taken with many selections. Carousels (valse de mille temps) tells a somewhat different story in translation but it retains the power and dizzying pace of the original. Marathon is much the same as Brel intended as is Timid Freda and If We Only Have Love (which Brel entitled the more optimistic When We Only Have Love). I had occasion to meet Blau and Stone at a recording session in the late 60's. They loved Brel's work and felt that no one could sell his songs as well as he could even though, at the time, Ellie Stone was the most noted interpreter of Brel's songs.
I am a Brel fan and I wonder why I have seen so little mention of my favorites like Madelaine or Jacky or that one word prescription for all our cares, NEXT!


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