Like her father, she loves the words path, crossroads, the intensity interspersed with silences. France Brel, the second daughter of Jacques Brel, anime since 1981, a foundation dedicated to the poet of the low Countries , located a few meters from the Grand-place of Brussels.
In October 2018, it received us to the Fondation Jacques Brel to evoke not only the author and the singer, but also a man intimate with that it will cross the Atlantic on a sailboat in 1974. On the occasion of the anniversary of 90 years of the birth of the poet of the Flat Country, on 8 April in Schaerbeek near Brussels, Le Figaro has decided to republish this encounter with the one who unceasingly since his death to bring to life the work of his father.
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Since the set designer Joana Gilson, has redesigned the place to discover all the facets of the Great Jacques, Georges Brassens said, “it was multiple”, the place looks like the trip of his life, from Brussels to the Marquesas. In this rare place, France Brel explains to us why her life tells of her songs (Universal just released a new and exceptional full). And how the one she now called “James” has charted its path at each intersection.
LE FIGARO. – The Fondation Brel, which exists since 1981, has the objective of ensuring the posterity of the work of your father?
France BREL. – We do nothing for his posterity. She will live as her songs. This is the public Brel in which we are interested. Our work of compiling his works and his memories is to try to explain, to dialogue with the people who come here to Brussels to find out the man as well as the artist.
You hear so as to understand the artistic journey of Jacques Brel, it would be necessary to better understand the man…
Here at the Foundation we go beyond the singer. James conceived of his life as a journey. He dreamed of Vasco de Gama. He is an author-pilgrim. He needed to move, to change horizon. I try to through all of the documents that were found show this Brel unknown. This face still today secret, provides insight, I believe, his work.
Exactly, can you tell us a bit about your father as you have experienced it?
It is necessary first to draw up the scenery of his life. This is a man in constant search of himself, of his life, what he will do, of its meetings, of its intersections to cross. It is always necessary that it has the impression of living the events intensely. All of this may seem contradictory as Brel, this is the one that wrote Amsterdam and Don’t leave me .
At what point in your life did you realize that your father was Jacques Brel?
as a Child, it is obviously of the order of the sensation. When my father was there, I sensed, I felt, that I had in front of me, a personality to be quite exceptional. Of course, it was my father, and I called him dad , but beyond that, I had the impression that it was someone totally different. And I felt this also in the eyes of others. The word that comes to me now is that I was “hooked”. What I feel when I’m with him, I feel that with him, as if there was in those times something just.
How did he behave with you?
his years where I was a little girl, I’ve kept souvenirs of phrases. It is often expressed in a concise manner. A bit like in his songs composed to be short and powerful. Sometimes, there were also silences, but were never overbearing as when we contemplate a beautiful landscape. A lot of silent gazes that speak volumes. But all of it is purely intuitive, of the order of the sensation.
In 1974, you are going to cross the atlantic with him and Maddly Bamy on a boat sixty feet. Talk to us about this trip.
I am 21 years old and this adventure will last seven months. It is part of Antwerp to the south of England, then down to the Azores and the Canary islands. Destiny gets in the way. He falls ill and Jojo dies (his friend Georges Pasquier, ED.) On the Askoy, I am happy despite the difficulties of navigation. You imagine that there was no auto-pilot. At the bar, we were getting packets of sea. When it rained, we were rinsed. It was a life of true sailors. This adventure, and I loved him as he loved her.
On the boat, there was Maddly also. It was he shocked?
No, because I didn’t ask any questions. I have quite quickly understood the teenage years that my father was seeing other women as my mother. Jacques was a man of great modesty who did not live in ostentation. All this, finally, was natural enough.
Will you write the story of your memories of youth?
Yes, but I will try to do that with a lot of elegance. Out of respect for the people who like Brel. I don’t want people to think I want to settle accounts. For example, it is fashionable today to speak of the “girlfriends” of James, focusing heavily on memories private, that belong only to him. Me, if I recall Suzanne Gabriello, it will be to say nice things about what she has brought him. It is this that is of interest, I am sure, those who admire the man and his songs.
France Brel recorded anecdotes “breliennes”, titled I have brought you stories . Miscellany.
● I have brought you stories: the pupil Jacques Brel, as told by France Brel
● I have brought you stories: Jean-Pierre Leloir, as told by France Brel
● I have brought you stories: The coquetéleux, narrated by France and Isabelle Brel