Sunday, May 3, 2015

Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris

As a boy, I was fascinated with this show. We had the cast recording, and the movie was frequently on HBO. But I had never seen it live. When Pittsburgh's PICT group announced they would be mounting a performance of it, I made sure to get tickets right away - and I wasn't disappointed! The performers were wonderful, and the staging was fun and clever. Even the venue was arranged like a cabaret, with cocktail tables ringing the seating area. There is something magical about the songs of Jacques Brel. I think it is that they are so deeply unafraid to speak directly, and emotionally, to the most powerful and important aspects of life. To my surprise, some of my Brel favorites were missing here -- Marathon (the director admitted that he hates it... it was always a favorite of mine, because it is so catchy... but I can see his point), and Last Supper, which apparently was not originally part of the play, but was a Brel song added to the movie. The lyrics that always stayed with me as a boy were these:

This is my last supper
Please come and dine with me
I want all of my old friends
To eat here by the sea

And then I'll climb a mountain
and throw rocks at the sky
and shout "God is Dead!"
one last time before I die.

To me, this is the essence of Jacques Brel. He worked alone, and each of his songs is a rock thrown at the sky. Each one an admission of our failings, of how truly pitiable it is to be mortal... but at the same time how wonderful, how powerful it is to be human. I remember, even very young, these songs making me want to live life fully, every day. Now that I am older, I feel it even more dearly. It is too easy, as we grow older, to forget what it means to be alive.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I've been trying to find the lyrics for the Jacques Brel movie for the Last Supper. Do you have the rest of the lyrics? Would be much appreciated!