Jacques Brel is Alive and Well: Anglophone adaptations of French Chanson

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    Focusing on some of the most significant English-language versions of Jacques Brel's chansons in North America and the UK, this article will discuss some of the competing practices and discourses around the process of adaptation. Three distinct approaches are identified: the first, epitomised by the work of the singer-songwriter Rod McKuen, is aimed primarily at commercial, mainstream audiences. The second approach, exemplified by the musical revue Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris and by the work of the English chansonnier Des de Moor, is situated within an alternative if not oppositional Anglophone cabaret tradition. The third approach, illustrated by the careers of Scott Walker and Marc Almond, blurs the distinction between mainstream and alternative, and in doing so, captures some of the inherent postmodern qualities of French chanson. Indeed, all of the approaches discussed serve to highlight the specificities of the genre. Copyright © SAGE Publications.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)179-190
    Number of pages12
    JournalFrench Cultural Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • Adaptation
    • Chanson
    • Jacques Brel
    • Musical
    • Popular music


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