Jackie - Scott Walker
The Walker Brothers had a short string of hits in the sixties, but they all fancied themselves as solo performers, but looking back we can see only Scott Walker had the vision to make a lasting career out of performing. There were three Jaques Brel songs on each of his first three albums, imaginatively titled "Scott", "Scott 2" and "Scott 3". This was on the second album and was released as a single in 1967 but failed comparatively, only reaching number 22 in the UK charts, largely due to it being banned by the BBC for nothing specific but (I suspect) general all-round depravity and having a good time: opium, virgins, bordellos, procurer of young girls, authentic queers, shock, horror, whatever next?.
Don't worry about the video performance accompanying this, as he's miming to the vinyl single, although it is good to see a passable stage performance of a Brel song. And hats off to the great lyricist Mort Shuman (who co-wrote the wonderful "This Magic Moment" for the Drifters) for so effectively anglicising the lyrics. If the literal translation from the French of the chorus were what Scott Walker was actually singing, the BBC would have had something very specific to latch onto. Google Translate hilariously renders the last line of the French chorus: "Beau, beau, beau et con à la fois" as "Beautiful, handsome, handsome and cunt at once" which just goes to show once again how the digital world is increasingly becoming one of surface only. As anyone with a teeny bit of knowledge of French will tell you, the word "con" has little of the negative social stigma and shock value that its equivalent retains in the English language even today, meaning in French "idiot" or perhaps "pillock" might be a good equivalent. But Shuman's translation of Brel is spot on: "cute in a stupid ass way".
The feeling of decadence in this song is sublime; the amoral joy and adventure of the world he's imagining is something that a part of us all yearns for, a return to a way we felt maybe for a couple of moments in our youth, when we were innocent of the detritus of society, mortgages and taxes, or maybe the romanticised dreams of a youth that never happened but that we now imagine did, "the time they called me "Jackie":
Now, tell me, wouldn't it be nice That if one day in paradise I'd sing for all the ladies up there And they would sing along with me And we be so happy there to be...... .....because I pitied all mankind and broke my heart to make things right I know that every single night when my angelic work was through the angels and the Devil too would sing my childhood song to me about the time they called me "Jacky"
if I could be for only an hour if I could be for an hour every day if I could be for just one little hour cute, cute in a stupid ass way
And don't we all sometimes wish we could be "cute in a stupid ass way"?