“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, interviewed by the French media before performing a stirring, soulful rendition of Brel’s beautiful chanson d’amour, “Ne me quitte pas.”
I’ve previously linked to a version of this song that I said almost embarrassed me for its raw, desperate begging. But I’ve found a very different version of the same song with Brel playing it cool. Oh, he’s still saying all the right things, but this is a guy who know he’s playing a game and also that he’s holding the winning hand. Compare these two clips of the very same song (desperate pleading vs. confident seduction) for an illustration of Brel’s finely tuned acting skills.
I also mentioned that the song had been frequently covered by other performers and I highlighted Sinatra’s version. But my favorite rendition by any American is Ray Charles‘ above.
There’s a short interview before the song. And by the way, something about seeing Ray Charles’ manner of speaking translated into French fills me with more patriotic sentiment than any flag or anthem ever could.