Thursday, June 16, 2011
SONGS FOR A GRAY DAY - JACQUES BREL / DAVID BOWIE / NINA SIMONE
Jacques Romain Georges Brel; 8 April 1929 – 9 October 1978) was a Belgian singer-songwriter. Brel composed and recorded his songs almost exclusively in French, although he recorded a number of songs in Dutch. Brel was born in Schaarbeek, Belgium, a district of Brussels, but lived half of his life in Paris. He died in Bobigny in the suburbs of Paris, of lung cancer, and is buried in the Marquesas Islands. Although his family did speak French, they were of Flemish descent, with some of the family originating from Zandvoorde, near Ieper. Brel came to consider himself a francophone Fleming. Brel's father was co-owner of a cardboard factory and Brel started his working life there, apparently destined to follow his father's footsteps. However, he had no interest in it and showed an interest in culture instead, joining the Catholic-humanist youth organisation Franche Cordée, where he sang and acted. At Franche Cordée he met Thérèse Michielsen ('Miche'). They married in 1950.
In the early 1950s Brel achieved minor success in Belgium singing his own songs. From 1954 Brel pursued an international singing career. He quit his job and moved to Paris. Songs for drinking, songs for strolling through the night, songs to laugh with and cry with. Here are some of my favorite tunes by Monsieur Brel and some covers of the songs by other folks.