Monday, February 13, 2012

Music: Jacques Brel

"Moi je t'offrirai des perles de pluie venues de pays où il ne pleut pas"

It’s not a secret that I spent a lot of my life in France, as I moved there at an early age and grew up there, only moving away when I was well into my 20’s. It will always be the country I first and foremost call home, before England (although it has been a struggle to choose between the two at times). One of my favourite things on earth is literally sitting en terrasse with a café and a cigarette, watching the world go by, or with my head buried in a book or writing in my journal. I dream and think in French as much as I do in English and miss it so much at times that I feel like moving back (until I remind myself why I love New York so much and why I have made this city my home). I grew up surrounded by French music, even before we moved to France I already knew of and listened to some of the classic French singers, such as Gainsbourg, Edith Piaf, France Gall, Juliette Gréco, but when I moved to France I discovered the infamous Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel.And fell completely in love.

You can read a pretty informative biography over on Wikipedia, as I am not going to use this space to rehash it (and wouldn’t be able to do such a good job seeing as I am very bad at paraphrasing content that has already been written… Probably a remnant of the excellent French education I received growing up). I just mainly want to say how much I love Jacques Brel. That voice, full of emotion and power, those beautiful lyrics… Multi-talented and so creative, he not only released 13 full-length studio albums and toured extensively for years, he also appeared as an actor in several films, directed others and adapted, translated, directed and played in a musical. I’m so happy that he recognized what an amazing array of talents he had and made the most of them, leaving us with so many wonderful songs and movies and soundtracks. I also have a secret crush on his Belgian accent, which is deeper and harsher than the French accent (those of you who speak French will probably laugh at this because everyone usually dislikes the Belgian French accent).

I wish I had been alive to see one of his wonderful performances. Sadly he died a few months after I was born, leaving me to just imagine what it was like. He wrote some of the most beautiful and heart-breaking love songs of all time. Enjoy.

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