The first time I saw Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris was on a Saturday night in the summer of 1978. I went back and saw it on Sunday the very next night.
I remember that Sunday walking out of the theatre and seeing a woman near the back of the auditorium who was still and tearing as if she had taken an emotional jolt because of the play and could not return to what passes for our natural state.
Since that Sunday I have watched several other productions and listened to the recording hundreds of times.
What is there about this play that has legions responding to the show so. And how can a play ( a revue, really) maintain a contemporary message for over fifty years?
I think it is that so many songs in the musical can speak to us all. Can anyone really listen to "Sons Of" and not react, at least emotionally, to the message?
I think of the lyrics to the finale now and again. "If we only have love, we can melt all the guns, and then give the new world to our daughters and sons.".."If we only have love, then tomorrow will dawn, and the days of our years, will rise on that morn." "If we only have love to embrace without fears, we will kiss with our eyes, we will sleep without tears." All true to my way of thinking.
Then I wonder what happens with the inverse. That is
"If we don't have love"...do we then take up arms or become a brawler.
"If we don't have love", then are all of our days looming hours that we must plow through?
"If we don't have love", can we ever embrace without fears? There are few things that are more memorable than being kissed with another's eyes. What happens when you've never been, or never can, or no longer are? Can we truly give the new world to our daughters and sons.
I was very fortunate to have a loving family and parents who were as crazy about Jacques Brel as I was and who actually turned me on to what we then called "the album." But what happens when that is not the case.
I wonder sometime if "fan love" is a type of love that is important both to the participants and the players. I read today that NBA player, Elton Brand finds it exciting to be playing in front of wild Philadelphia fans. And as I have written the people in section "508" in Madison Square Garden, are in love with the New York Rangers. To what extent does that affection, affect the quality of lives.