Jacques Brel – Ne me quitte pas

“Ne me quitte pas” (English: don’t leave me) is a beautiful song by the Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel (8 April 1929 – 9 October 1978). It is considered by some as “Brel’s ultimate classic”, who composed and performed literate, thoughtful, and theatrical songs that generated a large, devoted following. It was written after Brel’s mistress “Zizou” (Suzanne Gabriello) threw him out of her life.

And album version:

Zizou was pregnant with Brel’s child, but Brel refused to acknowledge the child as his own, . Zizou later had an abortion due to Brel’s actions. Brel first recorded the song on 11 September 1959, and it was released on his fourth album La Valse à Mille Temps.

In a 1966 interview, Brel said that “Ne me quitte pas” was not a love song, but rather “a hymn to the cowardice of men”, and the degree to which they were willing to humiliate themselves. He knew, he said, that it would give pleasure to women who assumed it was a love song, and he understood that.

The lyrics “Moi, je t’offrirai des perles de pluie venues de pays où il ne pleut pas” (“I’ll offer you rain pearls from lands where it does not rain”) are sung to a theme borrowed from the second part, Lassan (Andante), of the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 by the 19th-century Hungarian composer and virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886).

The song has also been translated into and performed in many other languages including English, German, Greek and Turkish. A well-known adaptation, with English lyrics by the American singer-songwriter, musician and poet Rod McKuen (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015), is “If You Go Away”. Created as part of a larger project to translate Brel’s work, “If You Go Away” is considered a pop standard and has been recorded by many artists, including Greta Keller, for whom some say McKuen wrote the lyrics; Shirley Bassey and Frank Sinatra.

Here McKuen performs the song during his show “Rod McKuen in Concert” in Royal Theatre Carré on May 24, 2009 in Amsterdam. This song is recorded and broadcasted by Dutch television below.

And here is the album version below.

Ne me quitte pas lyrics

Ne me quitte pas

Ne me quitte pas.
Il faut oublier,
Tout peut s’oublier,
Qui s’enfuit déjà.
Oublier le temps
Des malentendus
Et le temps perdu
À savoir comment.
Oublier ces heures
Qui tuaient parfois
À coups de pourquoi
Le cœur du bonheur.
Ne me quitte pas (4x).

Moi, je t’offrirai
Des perles de pluie
Venues de pays
Où il ne pleut pas.
Je creuserai la terre
Jusqu’après ma mort
Pour couvrir ton corps
D’or et de lumière.
Je ferai un domaine
Où l’amour sera roi,
Où l’amour sera loi,
Où tu seras reine.
Ne me quitte pas (4x).

Ne me quitte pas.
Je t’inventerai
Des mots insensés
Que tu comprendras.
Je te parlerai
De ces amants-là
Qui ont vu deux fois
Leurs cœurs s’embraser.
Je te raconterai
L’histoire de ce roi
Mort de n’avoir pas
Pu te rencontrer.
Ne me quitte pas (4x).

On a vu souvent
Rejaillir le feu
De l’ancien volcan
Qu’on croyait trop vieux.
Il est, paraît-il,
Des terres brûlées
Donnant plus de blé
Qu’un meilleur avril.
Et quand vient le soir,
Pour qu’un ciel flamboie,
Le rouge et le noir
Ne s’épousent-ils pas ?
Ne me quitte pas (4x).

Ne me quitte pas.
Je ne veux plus pleurer,
Je ne veux plus parler.
Je me cacherai là
À te regarder,
Danser et sourire
Et à t’écouter
Chanter et puis rire.
Laisse-moi devenir
L’ombre de ton ombre,
L’ombre de ta main,
L’ombre de ton chien.
Ne me quitte pas (4x).

Don’t Leave Me

Don’t leave me
We must forget
All can be forgotten
Which is already fleeing away
To forget the times
Of misunderstanding
And the lost times
To know how
To forget those hours
Which sometimes killed
With blows of “Why?”
The heart of happiness
Don’t leave me (4x)

I will offer you
Pearls of rain
Come from lands
Where it doesn’t rain
I will dig the earth
Until after my death
To cover your body
With gold and light
I will make a realm
Where Love will be law
Where Love will be king
And you will be queen
Don’t leave me (4x)

Don’t leave me
I will invent for you
Senseless words
Which you will understand
I will speak to you
Of those lovers
Who have twice seen
Their hearts ignite
I will tell you
The story of that king
Dead of not having
Been able to meet you
Don’t leave me (4x)

It has often been seen
For fire to erupt again
From the extinct volcano
That was thought too old
There are, it seems,
Scorched lands
Yielding more wheat
Than the best April
And when the evening comes
For the sky to blaze
Do the red and the black
Not wed?
Don’t leave me (4x)

Don’t leave me
I will weep no more
I will speak no more
I will hide myself there
To watch you
Dance and smile
And listen to you
Sing and then laugh
Let me become
The shadow of your shadow
The shadow of your hand
The shadow of your dog
Don’t leave me (4x)

If You Go Away lyrics

If you go away on this summer day
Then you might as well take the sun away
All the birds that flew in a summer sky
When our love was new and our hearts were high
When the day was young and the night was long
And the moon stood still for the nightbird’s song
If you go away
Ne me quitté pas
If you go away
Ne me quitté pas

But if you stay I’ll make you a day like no day has been or will be again
We’ll sail on the sun
We’ll ride on the rain
We’ll talk to the trees
And worship the wind
Then if you go I’ll understand
Leave me just enough love to fill up my hand
If you go away
If you go away
Ne me quitté pas
If you go away

If you go away as I know you will
You must tell the world to stop turning till
You return again, if you ever do
For what good is love without loving you
Can I tell you now as you turn to go
I’ll be dying slowly ’til your next hello
Ne me quitté pas
If you go away
If you go away

But if you stay I’ll make you a night like no night has been or will be again
I’ll sail on your smile
I’ll ride on your touch
I’ll talk to your eyes
That I love so much
Then if you go I’ll understand
Leave me just enough love to hold up my hand
If you go away
If you go away
Ne me quitté pas
If you go away

If you go away as I know you must
There’ll be nothing left in this world to trust
Just an empty room full of empty space
Like the empty look I see on your face
I’d have been the shadow of your dog
If I thought it’d have kept me by your side
If you go away
Ne me quitté pas
If you go away

Please, don’t go away