Adieu, Jacques (2002)
Listeners who don't speak French will struggle here, as only one song is sung completely in English.
The CD followed Noel's one-man musical, Adieu Jacques, which he put together to celebrate the life of the Belgian troubadour Jacques Brel.
In the sleeve notes, Noel explains why he has chosen to stick with the original French lyrics and provides handy translations into English for those who want to follow the songs closely.
But even in French, some of the tracks will be familiar to English listeners, particularly Marieke, which Noel recorded an English version of as a single in 1966.
Next to Gauguin
Mon Pere Disait
Ne Me Quittes Pas
Le Plat Pays
La Chanson Des Vieux Amants
La Valse A Mille Temps
A Cote de Gauguin
It is always difficult to translate songs or poetry and remain true to the original. Some of the songs in this collection have English language versions which have become quite well known. Being firmly attached by the heart to the nuances of French, I constantly find myself thinking "... but that's not what it really says...". That's why I've chosen to sing the songs in Adieu, Jacques as they were written.
I've put literal translations together without regard for rhyme or meter so that you can have an idea of what Jacques Brel was saying. If some of it sounds odd it's not just the French idiom, it's because Brel boldly invented new words and twisted the French language around for his poetic ends. Sometimes he was deliberately silly and sometimes he created new combinations of words that literally make the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.
I hope you feel the same.
Listen to Noel's1966 English language version of the Jacques Brel song Marieke.