Jacques Brel

One of the most notorious Belgian singers of all time has to be Jacques Brel. Even a half century later, his songs and talent are still recognized across the world.

Personally, I am not sure what is more enchanting about him: his talent for poetic music or his eccentric performances. Shamefully, I hardly speak any French (even though I studied it for three years in high school), so I think that it was his performance that first drew me in. His voice is so dramatic that it tells a story unlike any singer I have ever heard. His somewhat awkward movements and gestures only add to his initial charm.

I could go on for hours explaining every single one of his songs, bit instead I’ll just focus on my favorite: Les Bourgeois. (i’ll just post the link here because it will not embed properly)


Literally speaking, Les Bourgeois is about three friends going out one night to have a good time drinking and such. Around midnight, the Bourgeois (implied here as established men) pass by from their hotel. As the pass by, the three boys mock them by mooning them and comparing them to pigs. By the end of the song, it is assumed that Brel is describing how the three friends have now become the bourgeois.

Although the story of the song has little meaning or impact on me (is that horrible to say?), it is still one of my absolute favorites. The theatrical element that it is sung with is unbelievable.

In addition to being a phenomenal singer, Brel was also an actor. Unfortunately, Brel passed away in 1978 at the age of 49. It is refreshing to see the honorable and honest life that he lived, and it is assuring to know that such a remarkable man is still remembered today.