‘Ne me quitte pas’, Jacques Brel’s most famous offering, isn’t a song for every day. If actually immured in the desperate emotions it evokes it is impossible to listen to, and if you’re having a good day, why ruin it?
And if you are in a ‘Ne me quitte pas’ kind of a mood – which version? What language, even? If you’re going for the French original, do you go for the original original or, say, Nina Simone? Or, turning from the imploring imperative of the French to the cloying conditional of the English adaptation, which one? If forced at gun point I’m not sure I could choose between Dusty Springfield and Scott Walker.
However my undisputed favourite Turkish version, as of…ooh, yesterday, when I discovered it…is this rendition by Zeki Müren, the sumptuously attired, golden-voiced singer who died in 1996. I couldn’t tell you if the lyrics of ‘Beni Terketme’ retain the utter, nihilistic abasement of the French original but I can’t help thinking Zeki (pictured above) was a stranger to despond.