Did Ollie Fury, the host of the open mic at the Ptit Bonheur la Chance, get an idea from Thomas Stock? Last week I posted a recording of Stock singing Serge Gainsbourg’s “La Javanaise” and I commented on how I wished more of the young generation of French singers would sing some of the French classics, instead of just the English rock songs. Yesterday, Ollie did a fabulous rendition of Jacques Brel’s “Le Plat Pays.” But remember, Ollie is one of those people who is as French as he is American in his upbringing and language abilities – when he speaks French, you think he’s French, and when he speaks English, you think he is American – so he can honestly lay claim to any English or French (or Belgian) music that he wants….
I am frequently asked by French people if I sing in French, and my usual response is: No. The thing that has always stopped me from singing in French is that the only French songs I ever wanted to sing were those of Jacques Brel, and I felt I could not get close to his sound, nor could I add any of my own interpretation with authority or interest. So I always found myself doing NO French songs. (The only exception is last year I suddenly got the idea to do the French rock group Telephone song “Un Autre Monde.” I still have not memorized the lyrics, though, and the rhythm ain’t right – but I put a recording on my myspace of it, done in my living room the night I learned it.)
But I also feel that singing Brel is not only a stumbling block for me. It is difficult for anyone to do convincingly and well and to bring something new to. Brel was such a monster of a performer, and his voice so distinct, that, good luck. But last night Ollie, after two or three false starts, got really into the song and did a fabulous job, as you will hear on the video below that unfortunately I recorded only with my iPhone 4, having again left my Zoom Q3 at home….