Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Jacques Brel: Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don't Leave Me)

This is my favourite song. I discovered it just a few years ago. Jacques Brel puts so much pure emotion into this version it really gets to me.

I don't speak French. Yet I love this video. I think it cannot be bettered by any other recording. The Brel lyrics are superbly poetic. The French language is so beautiful, even to a muppet such as I, who cannot speak it.

Brel was born in Belgium but lived half his life in Paris. He died in a Paris suburb of lung cancer; he was a very heavy smoker, giving up near the end of his life - far too late.

Jacques Brel died in 1978 aged only 49. His death was widely mourned in both France and Belgium. He is buried close to the painter, Paul Gauguin, on the Island of Hiva Oa in the Marquesas Islands.

I have most of his recordings; he sings with such passion. His recordings of "Amsterdam" and "Jef" are great, but Ne Me Quitte Pas is superlative, in my opinion.

There have been hundreds of different recordings of Brel's works. The English version of Ne Me Quitte Pas is "If You Go Away", recorded by numerous singers such as Dusty Springfield and Shirley Bassey. This version is very good, but you just cannot beat the original French version, especially the Jacques Brel rendition above.


Lynn said...

Philip, thanks for sharing. That was indeed beautiful. I don't speak French, either. My four years of high school French counted for nothing when I had the opportunity to visit France many years ago. However, I found the French people to be very tolerant and helpful. They have a bad rep in the US as being rude, but I didn't see that at all.

Just to clarify. I do know that it's Christopher Robin, not Robbins. My granddaughter has started putting an "s" on many proper names and I guess it just rubbed off on me. Made me start in the middle of the night thinking "Oh no, you didn't really do that, did you?"

Barry said...

Of course we can't forget Canadian Terry Jacks' version of Brel's "Seasons in the Sun" which became a global pop hit in 1974, topping the charts internationally. And one of my own personal favourites.

DUTA said...

'Ne Me Quitte Pas' is a very moving song. It has been translated in many languages, and performed by many singers from all over the world. Jaques Brel who was also an actor , is no doubt, the legendary and best performer of this french music jewel.

Star said...
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scarlethue said...

I don't know why I've never seen that before. I feel like it's been missing from my life and I didn't know it. Beautiful-- poetry in both words and actions.

PhilipH said...

Thank you all for your comments. It is really good to know that you found this song enjoyable.

Cliff W said...

Hi Philip

I'd only ever heard the English-language version of the song as sung by Marc Almond (an underated vocalist of Soft Cell fame).

All the best