Jacky

Sometimes songs work their way into your mind’s ear and it’s hard to figure out why you first started singing them. The last couple of days I’ve been singing the lyrics of Jacky, as sung by Scott Walker, although I first heard the song via Marc Almond.

The song was written by Jacques Brel, and you can find the French lyrics here. A key difference between the lyrics in French and those in English is that in the French version, one assumes that the singer – Jacques Brel – isn’t imagining that he was called Jacky, (because that is his name, more or less) whereas in the Scott Walker (real name Scott Engel) version, the singer assumes the voice of a person called Jacky, so the relationship between the singer and the listener is altered. Still, one key aspect of the song remains: fantasising about being in different places, under different names and personae, but remaining true to one’s origins, through the repetition of a song.

Anyway, here are the English lyrics:

And if one day I should become
A singer with a Spanish bum
Who sings for women of great virtue
I’d sing to them with a guitar
I borrowed from a coffee bar
Well, what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you
My name would be Antonio
And all my bridges I would burn
And when I gave them some they’d know
I’d expect something in return
I’d have to get drunk every night
And talk about virility
With some old grandmother
That might be decked out like a christmas tree
And though pink elephants I’d see
Though I’d be drunk as I could be
Still I would sing my song to me
About the time they called me “Jacky”

If I could be for only an hour
If I could be for an hour every day
If I could be for just one little hour
Cute in a stupid ass way

And if I joined the social whirl
Became procurer of young girls
Then i would have my own bordellos
My record would be number one
And I’d sell records by the ton
All sung by many other fellows
My name would then be handsome Jack
And I’d sell boats of opium
Whisky that came from Twickenham
Authentic queers
And phony virgins
If I had banks on every finger
A finger in every country
And every country ruled by me
I’d still know where I’d want to be
Locked up inside my opium den
Surrounded by some china men
I’d sing the song that I sang then
About the time they called me “Jacky”

If I could be for only an hour
If I could be for an hour every day
If I could be for just one little hour
Cute in a stupid ass way

Now, tell me, wouldn’t it be nice
That if one day in paradise
I’d sing for all the ladies up there
And they would sing along with me
And we be so happy there to be
Cos’ down below is really nowhere
My name would then be Junipher
Then I would know where I was going
And then I would become all knowing
My beard so very long and flowing
If I became deaf, dumb and blind
(was: If I could play deaf, dumb and blind)
Because I pitied all mankind
And broke my heart to make things right
I know that every single night
When my angelic work was through
The angels and the Devil too
Would sing my childhood song to me
About the time they called me “Jacky”

If I could be for only an hour
If I could be for an hour every day
If I could be for just one little hour
Cute in a stupid ass way

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