Friday, 12 September 2014

Jacques Brel

I've been to Brussels and it's a place that doesn't live to the stereotype, at least in my eyes anyway. It was quite a while ago and I'm sure it's changed a lot since, but I witnessed a city of quite eerie contrasts. I'm told the city was built up substantially from the profits of  Belgian colonial exploits and it was interesting to see that, although the northern baroque portion of the city was well tended and restored, the 19th century quarters were left in incongruous state of the decay. Almost as if the city were a living entity trying to leave the past behind, as it chased a future as a modern European hub of commerce, free from the associations of colonialism.

I was there scouting for a project that never took off the ground but it wasn't an altogether fruitless trip, the museum of modern art was well worth the effort alone. Unfortunately though one of the main attractions, Le Théâtre Royal de Toone, Toone's, as we refereed to it on the trip, was inaccessible, being booked solid. 

Name a famous Belgian is a game oft spawned when the subject turns to that nation and although I'm no expert on the country, I know enough to disrupt the anticipated hilarity. The person in question would be Jacques Brel, yeah that's right he's not French but Belgian, there's at least a chance though, that you've never heard of him. If that should be the case, then think of some of those embarrassing songs peddled by the balladeers of yesteryear like: If You Go Away--Dusty Springfield, et al and Seasons in the Sun--Jerry Tacks or would that be Terry Jacks? Well it turns out they're rather mawkish translations of Brel's original works, which, in their original form, are rather more--vibrant. Anyway to prove the point, here's Brel performing one of his own works, that happened to be one work of his that wasn't accompanied with a wobbly chin when performed in English by Alex Harvey, of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.

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