Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Ne Me Quitte Pas
There is an interesting article in yesterday's New York Times about Leonard Cohen. In it novelist Pico Iyer is quoted as describing Cohen's songs as sounding like “collaborations between Jacques Brel and Thomas Merton.” Thomas Merton has featured here many times. But there is also a random path to the Belgian singer-song writer Jacques Brel (what is it about Belgians?) . Last year we were driving north through France to take the ferry home from Dunkirk after spending some time in search of Pablo Casals and hands-free harpsichordists. Our ferry was departing early the next morning and we had not booked overnight accomodation near the ferry terminal. It was a Saturday in June and finding somewhere to stay around the Channel ports proved to be difficult. At last we found a pleasant chambres d'hotes run by a charming middle-aged lady on a small farm a few miles inland from Hardelot-Plage . When we came down for an early breakfast we found the living room decorated with photos and other Jacques Brel memorabilia, and many of his recordings were stacked by the CD player. We talked briefly about Brel with the lady of the house, but no explanation was offered about any family connection. When I returned home I read that the Flemish singer had lived in Paris and had three daughters in the early 1950s. Could it be that we stayed in the home of one of the daughters (or nieces)? Or was our host just a fan? Jacques Brel sings Ne Me Quitte Pas above. While elsewhere, Thomas Merton has a different musical collabarator.
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