The unfamiliarity of its title notwithstanding, "Le Moribond" ranks alongside "Ne me Quitte Pas", "Au Suivant" and "Amsterdam" among Jacques Brel's best known compositions - translated freely into English by Rod McKuen, it re-emerged as "Seasons In The Sun", a song that has been interpreted by artists as disparate as Andy Williams and the Squirrels, Boyd Rice and Bobby Vinton, the Fortunes and Shabba Ranks.
Recorded in 1961 for Jacques Brel's tenth EP (it also featured on his fourth album, Jacques Brel #4), "Le Moribond" relays the final words of a dying man, a gentle parade of amused memories, wry reflections, and careless shrugs that place it, ultimately, in a similar bag to "Tango Funebre" - the opening line of Brel's original chorus demands, "I want them to dance when they're putting me in the hole."
Within three years, however, such droll intentions would be swept from sight. Les Moribond" was one of the first Brel songs translated into English by Rod McKuen and, though his chorus ("we had joy, we had fun...") certainly owes little to Brel's, it swiftly became a part of the cultural landscape. Recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1964, "Seasons In The Sun" next drifted into the hands of Greek superstar Nana Mouskouri, before returning to the USA in 1968, when the Beach Boys recorded a version of their own. Vocals were handled by Carl Wilson, guitar by Canadian sessionman Terry Jacks - who, six years later, would turn a solo rerecording of the same song into a worldwide hit that remains an oldies radio staple.
Curiously, whereas other Brel interpretations tend to replace his original, upbeat melodies with more somber tones, the opposite is true here - Brel's original resonates with the pomp and precision of a military funeral, a far cry indeed from the buoyant vivacity of Terry Jacks' version. But one readily recognizes one within the other, all the same - death is universal, whatever tempo one contemplates it at.