Sunday, 25 January 2009

Lost in translation?

Growing up, I occasionally heard a remarkably bitter song by Scott Walker (formerly of the Walker Brothers).

As I listened to Radio 2, I listened to a lot of music from the 50s and 60s even into the 70s (rock just passed Terry Wogan by) and 80s. I heard this version of Jacky a few times.

It was always introduced by the radio announcers as written by "the incomparable/the genius/the extraordinary Jacques Brel" who had apparently had a lot of his work translated into English in the 60s.

Later on, I bought the Marc Almond version. Which seems very much weaker than the Scott Walker version I grew up with.

But nowadays, with the power of YouTube - a lot of small miracles can happen. I looked up the song and found a Jacques Brel video with English subtitles. Imagine a cross between Lee Evans and Kenneth Williams and you're half way there to getting an idea of the guy.

Absolutely extraordinary. And the lyrics....even accounting for the spanning of the new English lyrics to the melody - some of them are just, well, wrong.