Tuesday, March 4, 2014

40 Year Itch: Just Starfish on the Beach

  On March 2, 1974 Terry Jacks began a three week run at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with a tune he first suggested the Beach Boys record. They did, but never released it.

Originally written and recorded in 1961 by French artist Jacques Brel, "Le Moribund" ( or "The Dying Man") had already been covered by the Kingston Trio in 1964 with English lyrics translated by poet Rod McKuen.

After getting permission to revise the lyrics at the end, Terry Jacks recorded "Seasons in the Sun" in his home city of Vancouver. It sat on a shelf for more than a year before he finally released the single in Canada where it topped the charts first.

From Canada the song swept around the world--a number one hit in both the US and the UK. And then. And then Terry Jacks vanished. In 1983 he told Rolling Stone magazine: 

I got an awful lot of strange letters from that record. They had a contest at a school in Miami about how this person died. They knew when Terry Jacks was born and when he died. Nobody heard from me again, see?

Terry Jacks in Paris, January 2014

    That's been the way Terry's wanted it. Outside of some environmental work, he's become a self described "recluse" in his home country. He performs now and again in Europe and has made enough money off of "Seasons in the Sun" to spend winters in Hawaii and the rest of his time on the beautiful Sunshine Coast of Vancouver Island.

One footnote: Nirvana memorably covered "Season in the Sun" with Kurt on drums.

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