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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5 comments:

pathogan said...

while reading the Times article, after mentioning Pico Iyer's quote, I knew there would be an overgrown path.The best description I have read on Cohens voice was by an anonymous Austrailian commenting on a recent concert. Cohen voice, he said"was sex." Now THAT is a compliment that Merton would have appreciated and been howling at with peals of laughter

Pliable said...

Interestingly, the link between Leonard Cohen and Thomas Merton does have some substance.

In 1979, eleven years after Merton's death, Cohen visited Gethsemane Monstery in Kentucky, where Merton had been a monk. He also went to the headquarters of the American Trappist Order in Spenser, Massachusets. On both visits Cohen was accompanied by his Buddhist teacher Joshu Sasaki Roshi.

My source is Ira B. Nadel's Various Positions - A Life of Leonard Cohen.

http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/books/nadvap.html

Pliable said...

A piece of very unlikely music trivia.

Franco Zeffirelli's first choice to score his film about St. Francis of Assisi, Brother Sun, Sister Moon was the partnership of Leonard Bernstein (music) and Leonard Cohen (lyrics). In 1969 Bernstein and Cohen met in Rome at the film director's villa and travelled to the Saint's tomb.

For reasons that aren't clear (Ira B. Nadel says, enigmatically, that Cohen was 'unhappy with the scene') neither Bernstein nor Cohen contributed any music to the film. Instead they were replaced by, of all people, the English folk singer Donovan.

The path does not end there - some of the preliminary sketches produced by Bernstein were incorporated into his Mass.

pathogan said...

NOw that would have been,interesting. I like Donovan,but his music was out of place in that film.Bernstein also consulted Daniel Berrigan, S.J. about his Mass and visited Dan while he was imprisoned in Danbury, CT. for bruning draft files in Contonsville Maryland in May of 1968. And Dan Berrigan was a dear dear friend of Thomas Merton, also...

Pliable said...

Email received:

There is:

Fondation Jacques Brel

Telefoon:
02-511.10.20

Faxnummer:
02-511.10.21

Wijk:

Adres:
Vieille Halle aux Blés, 11
1000 Brussel
Website:
www.jacquesbrel.be

Openingsuren:
Maandag: gesloten
Dinsdag - Zaterdag : 10u30-18u
Zondag: gesloten