A quick check at Wikipedia shows that the 1959 French song Ne me quitte pas had been recorded by numerous singers, and in over 20 languages! That’s such an amazingly illustrious history that song has.
There is an Arabic version, beautifully done by the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila, called Ma Tetrikni Heik. When I discovered this the surprise was so great and wonderful it gave me goosebumps so to speak. I mean, firstly I love this incredibly beautiful song. Secondly I’m loving the band more and more, the more I listen to them. They have that certain something that speaks to my soul, in the same way that some other artists, say, Sade, Chris Isaak and Gipsy Kings, to name just three but diverse acts, have as well. And thirdly I have a special interest in Arabic as I’ve started learning it some months ago. So when I found these three things have come together, it made for a delightful surprise that just took my breath away.
The cover is a short one at just over 2 minutes, as the first part of the video below shows. I hope they’ll do a full version someday. This one is from their third album Raasuk (2013).
Original French Versions
I have loved this song ever since I first heard it, in the original French language and as sung by Nina Simone of course. I have written several times here how much I love her. Nina recorded her cover in 1965 for her I Put A Spell On You album.
The original singer though is the songwriter himself, the late Jacques Brel, who was from Belgium and first recorded the song in 1959 for his fourth album, La Valse à Mille Temps. Bonus in the video below: English subtitles! Brilliant.
- Another French version I like is by Sting. Click the link here for a live performance of the song by the Englishman.
Some English versions (“If you go away”)
Here are the links to YouTube videos of some of the English versions I like.
- Dusty Springfield
- Shirley Bassey
- Tom Jones – a bit of a different beat than the usual after minute 1:50. Makes it a bit more interesting.
- Barbra Streisand
- Patricia Kass – a refreshingly different version. And sexy. Bonus: video features a smolderingly sexy DAMN HAWT Jeremy Irons, shirtless and all.
- Madonna – Yes, Madonna! Her style of singing here brought to my mind her Evita/Something To Remember period.
And finally… the incomparable Cyndi. The one and only.
Edit on 18 January:
Credit: Thanks so much to the following people who posted and shared the videos above on YouTube, that I may share them here on this blog,
- Elhusseiny Ahmed – for the Mashrou’ Leila video,
- Emmanuel García Pereida – for the Nina Simone one,
- frenchrescue – for the Jacques Brel, and
- Marcelo Ferrari de Almeida Camargo – for the Cyndi Lauper,
as well as the other people whose videos I have the opportunity to link to.