Tuesday, 5 November 2013

There's at least one famous Belgian

Remember the old joke that it’s impossible to name five famous Belgians? Well, I can but I'm keeping the list to myself - with the exception of one: Jacques Brel. Chanson extraordinaire and an inspiration to the likes of Leonard Cohen, David Bowie and Lou Reed. It was listening to Leonard Cohen that brought Brel to mind and got me humming the tune of his song Amsterdam. Here's the man himself giving the song a passionate outing.

He's singing in French (and heavily accented French, at that) so, for the linguistically challenged, here's a snippet of the lyrics:
In the port of Amsterdam
There's a sailor who sings
Of the dreams that he brings
From the wide open sea
In the port of Amsterdam
Where the sailors all meet
There's a sailor who eats
Only fish heads and tails
He will show you his teeth
That have rotted too soon
That can swallow the moon
That can haul up the sails.
But the words are not enough, you really need the music: the speeding, stormy, tempestuous music. Scott Walker (remember he of the eponymous Brothers?) gave an excellent interpretation (in English) way back. Both versions are there to be enjoyed. 

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