“It takes a very warm person to say the things that this song says. And, you know, it’s plain; it’s not difficult. You don’t have to be a scholar to understand it.”–Ray Charles ON Jacques Brel! (Song referred to is “Ne Me Quitte Pas” or in English, “If You Go Away.”)
Two wonderful songwriters, one French, one American share this day in common. Jacques Brel died today in 1978 and Jackson Browne was born today in 1948, same year as my brother, May he rest in peace. Both men composed beautiful thoughtful songs; both men had their own way of using their music to voice their concerns about the world; both men had a way of singing that is distinct.
I remember seeing “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris” at the Village Gate, probably sometime in 1969. I couldn’t get over the songs, the singers, the messages that Brel was conveying. This was Viet Nam War time and Brel’s song, “If We Only Have Love,” which he wrote during the Algerian War, echoed the sentiments of the 60s “Flower Children” and activists who marched against the war. I was one of them. Brel stopped visiting the U.S.A. as a protest against the war so it was quite a celebratory night when I saw the show again, but this time at Carnegie Hall to honor the 5th Anniversary of the show. Jacques Brel literally jumped on stage from the audience near the end and took his just applause from a wildly enthusiastic appreciative audience. It was called “Homage a Jacques” to celebrate the man and his music.
“He’s (Jackson Browne) a tender troubadour with a fierce social conscience, whose message speaks loud and clear through his simple and often poignant lyrics. The stories of lost love, melancholy, despair and hope still ring true decades after many of his songs were written.”–Jim Moret, Huff Post Entertainment
Jackson Browne is alive and well and living in California, still performing, touring, writing beautiful songs. I used to see him at anti-nuke rallies along with Bonnie Raitt. I first saw Jackson as the opening act for Joni Mitchell at Carnegie Hall. In those days you could get tickets right at the Box Office and I remember my dad and my brother driving into the city to get me the tix. No scalpers and no online scalping. This was 1972. Jackson and his guitar…unplugged; ditto for Joni; a magical night. I do have
some fave songs: These Days, For a Dancer, Fountain of Sorrow…
Allow the music to speak for itself: