Thursday, October 11, 2012

Songs 269 & 270 - It's Thursday, but also TWOsday!

Song #269 of 9999                                                  Song #270 of 9999

Title: Seasons in the Sun                                        Title: Le Moribond
Artist: Terry Jacks                                                    Artist: Jacques Brel
Year: 1974                                                               Year: 1961
Album: N/A - single release only                             Album: 5

Not writing a blog is so much easier than writing a blog. (Go ahead, try not writing a blog. Easy, right?) And the urge to stop is strong and I have succumbed more than once, as you have probably noticed. But occasionally, I will learn something so interesting that makes it all worth it. This is one of those times.

I have a short (somewhat embarrassing) list of songs I loved as a child (i.e. age in the single digits) and Terry Jacks' "Seasons in the Sun" is on it. The fact that I was digging this morbidly sad song as a six-year-old probably says a lot about who I am and could set a nature vs. nurture debate alight, but we'll just have to set that aside for the time being. I'm sure I was initially just attracted to the sing-along chorus which seems like it could have popped up on the relatively new Sesame Street show, but I certainly remember contemplating the lyrics (perhaps as a slightly older child of, say, eight), which seemed to suggest the singer's days were numbered. I didn't mind; I understood it; I cried; no big deal.

Now, almost forty years later, I learn it is a cover of a Jacques Brel song! Brel's French lyric tells a similar but much more complex story. It's still about death ("Le Moribond" translates to "The Dying Man"—duh.), but it's more of a comic farce, as the protagonist first says goodbye to his friend Emile, entrusting him to take care of his wife; then to his Priest, asking him to also take care of his wife; then to Antoine, his wife's.....LOVER, asking that he continue to take care of his wife. And finally, he says goodbye to his wife:

Adieu ma femme je vais mourir
C'est dur de mourir au printemps tu sais
Mais je pars aux fleurs les yeux fermés ma femme
Car vu que je les ai fermés souvent
Je sais que tu prendras soin de mon ame
Goodbye, my wife, I'm going to die,
It's hard to die in springtime, you know,
But I'm leaving for the flowers with my eyes closed, 
my wife,
Because I closed them so often,
I know you will take care of my soul

Apparently, the implication of "eyes closed" being that he looked the other way when it came to her infidelity!

I still like Terry Jacks' single, but I love the Jacques Brel song. It's especially fun to watch a live performance by the Belgian singer as he seems to inject the whole thing with loads of vitriol. The creative arrangement helps tell the story with flutes and oboes representing birds in the spring, violins representing love, and a muted trumpet punctuating the raucous chorus ("I want to laugh/I want to dance/I want to party like a bunch of fools/I want to laugh/I want to dance/When they come to put my in my grave"). Such a fun discovery!

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