“Seasons In The Sun” is one of those records that was never not going to be enormous. The weird dolour of its intro chords, Terry Jacks’ tear-choked vocals, Brel’s terrace-ready chorus and the sheer oddness of the song….even if you think it’s awful or kitsch you can’t be surprised at its success. Sometimes I do think those things, but the elements mockers tend to point to are also keys to “Seasons”‘ effectiveness. Those final chord shifts, for example – outrageous manipulation yes, but also the desperate last grabs at life by the dying singer.
I’ve not heard Brel’s “Le Moribund” though I know that a hefty subtext went missing in the transition from Jacques to Jacks – the dying man may be a suicide, driven to it by his wife’s infidelity. It seems to me though that removing that story, that explanation, must improve the song, or at least make it much stranger. “Seasons” is now about the awful blank randomness of death, rather than the bitter punchline to life as a bad joke.