musicology #164

malevocals2 #2

(Amsterdam – Jacques Brel)

stepping outside of the sounds of Jamaica and blazing new ground with a singer from Belgium who themusicologist came across by pure chance one night when I fell asleep on the sofa with the ‘Ned Kelly’ on and was woken from my slumber not only by this cats voice, but just as importantly his passionate delivery.

I must admit I was blown away and having never listened to a song sung in French I vowed to dig some of Jacques Brel’s work up and aquaint myself with it. I can’t translate a word of it but after watching and listening to this live performance of his on the documentary it brought tears to my eyes and sent a shiver up my spine…in other words I felt it.

apparently he was a huge star in France and obviously Belgium and I can hear why. He pulled no punches and was known and well loved for his ‘protest’ songs as much as his songs of love…

it was this 1964 cut that woke me from my slumber. it’s a song about Amsterdam, sailors on shore leave and the so called dregs of society about whom Brel was a passionate defender.

David Bowie is a big fan of Brel’s, (and this song in particular), recording it first in 1970 for a John Peel session live at the BBC.


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