When I was just 15, I heard a new song from Scott Walker. He had recently split from The Walker Brothers, and this was a single released from his first solo album. It was a strange song, very theatrical in feel, as if from a show. It had unusual lyrics, and you certainly couldn’t dance to it. However, Walker’s powerful vocals and the infectious chorus guaranteed that this song became stuck in my mind, so I bought the single soon after.
Much later, I discovered that it was a cover version, an English translation of the original French song, written and performed by the Belgian singer/songwriter, Jacques Brel. I sought out Brel’s version, and got it on an album of equally unusual songs, most of which appealed to me for their very different construction to the popular songs of the day.
Then in 1991, former Soft Cell vocalist Marc Almond also recorded his version of ‘Jacky’, and I bought the album that came from. In almost a quarter of a century, the appeal of this song had never died for me, and I ended up owning three versions, including that original. I still love to hear them now.
Which one do you prefer?