Jacques Brel – Ne Me Quitte Pas

Reblogged from Feeling My Age.

An object lesson in How To Deliver A Dramatic Ballad… British acolytes from David Bowie to Marc Almond to Scott Walker to Bryan Ferry have all taken inspiration from the Belgian artist Jacques Brel, but none of them has ever come close to the original.

Somehow when English people attempt this kind of thing in their own language – or even in the original French – they just look as thought they’re taking themselves too seriously. And I speak as a repented sinner.

For my money the most important leap Brel took when developing this stage persona was his decision in 1959 to stop accompanying himself on the guitar and start working with a pianist and musical director. At a stroke Brel stopped being a “singer-songwriter” and became a Recording Artist.

If you think about it, Morrissey and Billy Bragg are both singers who write songs. Billy is seen as “a singer-songwriter” whereas Morrissey is An Artiste. The only reason for this is that Moz – like Ferry, Walker, Almond, Bowie and Brel himself – always employs somebody else to do the dirty work of making the actual music.

Tom Robinson

London-based broadcaster & songwriter, born 1950. His best known songs are 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby; he has also co-written songs with Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Dan Hartman and Manu Katché. Read More...


  1. I know which one I’d rather go and have a pint with, though… 🙂

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