21/07/2008

Big in Belgium : Bobbejaan

Bobbejaan Schoepen is one of those old time stars from the fifties and sixties, who got very famous in Belgium. I wrote about him once in my post about Dead Man Ray and its lead singer Daan.
Earlier this year, after a long, long silence (35 years!), he released a new record, which got a sort of American recordings treatment, albeit on a smaller scale. With some help from Daan and Elko Blijweert (from Dead Man Ray), Nathalie Delcroix (from Laïs), Geike Arnaert (from Hooverphonic) and Axelle Red, as well as from his song Tom and his wife Josée, he recorded 12 new songs (well, actually one of them is a sort of remake of one of his most famous songs in Dutch, De lichtjes van de Schelde). The record sounds a bit like the Rick Rubin produced Johnny Cash songs, but it also sounds very Flemish and the songs certainly do a lot of justice to the singing voice and whistling by Bobbejaan.
Also, the records is a musical hommage to aged men. It's about getting older and viewing your life in retrospect, and about the experience one gathers throughout one's life, about losing your youth, strength and fysical ability.

Enjoy these songs :

  • Je me suis souvent demandé (mp3) : singing in French, together with Axelle Red, Bobbejaan wonders about the bigger and smaller questions of life...
  • Flower of Shanghai (mp3) : Daan sings most of this song, about the long-distance love of a sailor in a far away port...
  • On a carousel (mp3) : mostly instrumental, with a lot of whistling (something Bobbejaan was famous for in his oldest songs), and with a spoken (Dutch) introduction...
  • Verankerd (mp3) : this song is probably the best of the whole record : it's about being old and sick (cancer), but still wanting to live, it's the song which offers the rich palet of Bobbejaan's singing (the voice of an old and experienced singer, a lot of country influences, but at the same time it sounds about as provincial as it can get) and it hits the mood of the lyrics so right on that's impossible to resist to the beauty of it, even if it is sung in Dutch... Of course, as Dutch is my mother language, I cannot judge it, but I wonder if you hear the richess of this even if you're unfamiliar with the language (I would guess so). So please give it a try (and feel free to leave a comment about it...)

You can buy the record Bobbejaan here

7 comments:

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