In the Port of Amsterdam, there are fewer sailors who drink, fewer who drink since Jacques Brel wrote this song. The decades since have seen dramatic advances in container shipping and harbor automation.
Brel came from a manufacturing milieu, as this Socialist biography relates.
Brel was born in Brussels, the Belgian capital, in April 1929. His father, Romain Brel, had worked some 20 years for the import-export corporation Cominex, during which time he spent several years in the Congo, then a Belgian colony. In 1926, he returned to Brussels and, in 1929, held a post on the company’s board of directors. Shortly after, Armand Vanneste, his brother-in-law, offered to partner with him in founding Vanneste & Brel, a company making cardboard….It was into this well-to-do Brussels bourgeois family that Jacques Brel was born.
In related compositioning, we offer this horrible video of Elvis Costello’s first waltz (we think), “New Amsterdam.”
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