Tuesday, April 19, 2016

PLEASE DON'T GO



Please don't go!
Well, actually I don't care if you go. But I hope you'll stay long enough to watch my latest video. It's a tribute to Marlene Dietrich, singing Bitte Geh Nicht Fort (Please Don't Go).

This song is originally titled Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don't Leave Me) and was written in 1959 by Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel. It was a lament for his girlfriend Suzanne Gabriello (Zizou) who left him. Zizou was pregnant.

 Jacques Brel

Brel denied being the father of the baby. Zizou eventually had an abortion. Later, Jacques Brel said that Ne Me Quitte Pas was never intended as a love song, but rather as "a hymn to the cowardice of men."

Marlene Dietrich sings it in German - and in my humble opinion her rendition is far superior to Brel's. Dietrich recorded it several times, and it's impossible to choose a favorite  (actually, I've heard this song by numerous other singers and none of them impressed me).

I was initially never a big Dietrich fan. I thought her talent was minimal and she was over-rated. When I was in my late teens I discovered some of her recordings and my harsh opinion softened immensely. She was a mesmerizing singer and a superb cabaret performer.



I first saw Der Blaue Engel (The Blue Angel) in one of those artsy Los Angeles movie revival houses. Perhaps my disdain for Dietrich was perpetuated by the fact that in Engel she was not only a mediocre actress but also a heartless bitch. 

When I was around 18 or 19 I saw the 1947 flick The Golden Earrings (with Dietrich and Ray Milland) on the late show. The Hungarian theme won my heart, and Dietrich admittedly made one helluva intriguing gypsy.

I also like the exotic intrigue of Morocco (1930) and Shanghai Express (1932). Director Josef von Sternberg didn't exactly discover Dietrich (as he claimed) but he certainly did invent her.

So what about my video?
It's a humble tribute to the essence of Marlene Dietrich - singing one of my favorite songs. To perpetuate the "mood", I've set it against the backdrop of a rainy night.....

Cheers, Jon 

video best viewed full screen 

 

20 comments:

  1. I have loved Jacques Brel for years. And the song is one of my favorites too, though I admittedly did not know the history associated with it. Which makes it even more poignant. This rendition by Marlene Dietrich was haunting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm admittedly not very familiar with Brel's songs, but this one is definitely a favorite. Dietrich did several German versions of this, all of which are heartfelt and truly haunting.

      Delete
  2. Yes Taryterre, a haunting version indeed.

    (Though I'm a bit partial to the Nina Simone version...)

    :-)

    -Andy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nina Simone sings a very emotional rendition. The French and German versions are unique in their own ways - -it's actually difficult to choose.

      Delete
  3. Jon,

    I don't know about the cowardice of men, but I never took this as a love song. It seems more both a lament and desperation to me. I never knew the history of its inspiration. I've always been kind of drawn to breed's "Seasons in the Sun". Must be my nostalgia.

    Larry

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is definitely a lament - and a bitter one, I think. Wow, I haven't heard "Seasons in the Sun" in a long time. Nostalgia, indeed!

      Delete
  4. Always loved this song by Shirley Bassey. Never knew Marlene did it. Add her version to my favorite list.

    "Golden Earrings" - a now forgotten film. From that film came a haunting title song that remained with you.

    As you say, "a superb cabaret performer". One of the gowns that she wore was so transparent and sewn so tightly to her body that it caused quite the scandal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never heard the Bassey version - I'll have to check it out. "Golden Earrings" used to be in my piano repertoire, and I had the first edition of the piano sheet music (it's among the MANY things that the movers "lost" when I moved to TN).

      I remember that infamous Dietrich gown - really unique!

      Delete
  5. I hadn't heard Dietrich's treatment of this dramatic song. Thank you! I do remember a clip of Brel singing "Ne Me Quitte Pas" in the American Film Theatre production of the mid '70s as he sat at a table drinking beer-- and my son (5 yrs old at he time) called it "the numbnuts song". By and by we all substituted numbnuts for Ne Me Quitte Pas. A happy memory --who knows what we might have garbled "Bitte Geh Nicht Fort" into?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Children always manage to have a refreshing take on everything. The Numbnuts Song is a rather simple way of remembering it. I suppose the German rendition could be Bitter Forts.

      Delete
  6. Funny I watched one of her london shows 1960s the other night.. Wierd but addictive

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's amazing that her shows still manage to generate interest as well as enthusiasm......and a fierce following (kinda like Judy Garland)

      Delete
  7. Now, Marlene Dietrich was a favorite of mine. A Parton Saint at that. Her style was absolutely stunning. I have quite a few of her songs on a cd set that I love to unwind too, some in English and some in German. But I do agree with you on her acting. It seem alot of people are either in a Dietrich or a Garbo camp.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dietrich and Garbo - - wow, it's nearly impossible to compare the two. Each was extremely unique in her own way. Dietrich was a superb performer and a mesmerizing singer.

      I LOVE (lovelovelove) Garbo's silent films. For me, some of the sensuality and mystery waned with her "talkies".
      Dietrich also made silent films - but refused to admit it.

      Delete
  8. The undisguised emotion in her voice is endearing! Love the noir effect, Jon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Myra - as always, you've hit the target in only a few words. I thought the noir effect was perfect for the song (it wasn't my original intention, but I'm glad I decided to use it).

      Also, Dietrich's emotion is EXTREMELY intriguing - - and I've heard a different version of this song in which she has even more emotion. I didn't use that version only because the ending was carelessly cut off on the recording.

      Delete
  9. Beautiful video, Jon. Dietrich and Garbo are two of my favorite performers. So much mystery and beauty! I think Frances Farmer might have followed in their magical footsteps, but had the bad luck to be the daughter of a complete lunatic. Life can be very cruel...

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks, Dylan. I'm glad you mentioned Frances Farmer because I've been intrigued by her for a very long time. When I was living in Hollywood I happened to see her autobiography in a book store. I'd never heard of her, but I bought the book and was fascinated by her tragic story (yes, her mother was a complete lunatic).

    A local TV station started showing her films on the late show, and I absolutely loved her. Not only a talented actress, but she also had a beautiful voice.

    Life is indeed bitterly cruel.....

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have no idea what she looked like in person but the camera sure did love her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She was extremely photogenic. I've never seen an unflattering photo of her.

      Delete

I love comments. Go ahead and leave one - I won't bite. But make sure you have a rabies shot just in case.