frida, beautiful as the sun

At the risk of sounding like an old lady, I'm not going to say that I wish musicians today could sing and perform like they did in the good old days. But I wish musicians today could sing and perform like they did in the good old days.

I've been listening to a lot of Jacques Brel over the past month and his absolute passion definitely translates through speakers - like a nice breeze and maybe a light drizzle. But his passion comes through like a bloody monsoon of heart wrenching bombast (what?) on all these old video recordings of his performances.

Brel's 1967 performance of "Ces Gens-Là":

And his infamous 1964 performance of "Amsterdam" at the Olympia in Paris - Brel never recorded this song for a studio album, yet this live performance has become one of his most enduring works. He received a three minute standing ovation afterward (this video cuts off just as the song ends).

It's almost as if he is eating the words and then spewing them out unabashedly onto his audience. I love it.


Will Rucker said...



how have i never heard this guy? i've heard of him. but oh wow. i was completely on the edge of my seat the whole time. that was one of the most poetic and just plain beautiful things i've ever seen.

p.s., i couldn't even talk to you about the movie last night because i was speechless. but i'll talk to ya later tonight.

benjamin said...

i know. he is the most engaging singer i've seen in a while.

i read an anecdote somewhere (prob wikipedia) about when he wrote "amsterdam". apparently he was in his home on the french riviera writing the song. one day, early in the morning, he read the lyrics he had written to some fisherman who was about to go out on the mediterranean, and when he finished reading, the fisherman broke down in tears and had to slice open a sea urchin to help ease his intense emotion.

could you imagine reading a poem you had written and people started sobbing and slicing things? wow.