by wjw on October 25, 2012

I’ve been bushwacked by a tune.  It was a tune I hadn’t heard, or thought about, for years, most likely decades, and suddenly it’s there in my head, and I can’t make it go away.

So I thought I’d pass the ear bug on to you.  Maybe you’ll take it with you when you leave.

I’m being stalked by “If You Go Away,” by the Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel, the song known to you Francophone types by its original title, “Ne Me Quitte Pas.”  I don’t know quite how I avoided hearing it for all that time, because it’s been recorded by just about everyone, from Sinatra and Streisand to Sting and Madonna.

I present you here with Ray Charles’ version.  I’d like to offer you Brel’s video, but though it’s available for viewing on YouTube, I’m not allowed to embed it.  (You should check it out, though, to see Brel’s sweat-soaked emoting at its finest.  If he were performing today, he could be sold under the slogan: “EMO— but good!”)

Now I’m going to go off and try desperately to think of another tune.  Let me think now . . . what’s more addictive than the tune already in my head?  Hmmm.

Sean Craven October 25, 2012 at 6:24 am

I always go to Popcorn. The Yellow Magic Orchestra version is extra guilty.

Juanma Barranquero October 25, 2012 at 11:12 am

Ray Charles’ version is good, but Brel’s is otherwordly.

He was magnificent, a really giftet interpreter (and of course composer). I’m quite partial to “Ces gens-là” as a display of complex emotions, from ironical comment to love to sadness to desperation, often in the same sentence.

Colin October 25, 2012 at 11:56 am

I’ve always heard the term Earworm for those songs you can’t get out of your head…

Regardless, a musician friend of mine told me the theme from The Flintstones was a good aural palate cleanser. He said it usually gets rid of the Earworms.

Oz October 25, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Have always liked Jacques Brel. I first heard him when I was in high school on a reel to reel tape that I wore out at my uncle’s house. Judy Collins covered some of his songs at about the same time and there’s the ever-popular “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well…” No, the Ray Charles version (all power to the Great) didn’t have the impact of the original French language angst.

JaniceG October 26, 2012 at 2:51 am

I’ve generally found that the best way to get rid of earworms is to start humming a song with a repetitive chorus that can run “unmonitored” in your head – my personal cleanser is “The Town” from Randy Newman’s “The Point.” (BTW, I’m with Colin: “earwigs” are small insects; “earworms” are tunes you can’t get out of your head :-> )

wjw October 26, 2012 at 7:13 am

Earwigs are insects that burrow through the ear canal into the brain in order to LAY THEIR EGGS WHICH HATCH AND TURN THE BRAIN TO MUSH!

Which describes the process pretty well, if you ask me.

I’d probably heard Jacques Brel singing his own songs in the past, but I’d never seen the videos, which were revelatory. He didn’t sing, he didn’t emote, he =acted out the song.= No wonder he ended his career as a film actor.

wjw October 26, 2012 at 7:23 am

And by the way, my favorite version of “Popcorn” is by the Muppets.

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