Seasons in the Sun

"Seasons in the Sun" is an English-language adaptation of the 1961 song "Le Moribond" by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel[1] with lyrics rewritten in 1963 by American singer-poet Rod McKuen,[2] portraying a dying man's farewell to his loved ones. It became a worldwide hit in 1974 for Canadian singer Terry Jacks and became a Christmas number one in the UK in 1999 for Westlife.

"Le Moribond"
Song by Jacques Brel
from the album Marieke
RecordedFebruary 22, 1961
Songwriter(s)Jacques Brel

Song historyEdit

The first version of the song, recorded by Jacques Brel, tells of a man dying of a broken heart. It was sung in a marching tempo and shows the man saying his last farewells to a priest, his best friend, and his wife, named as Francoise, who cheated on him.

"Seasons in the Sun"
Image of Germany 7" vinyl cover
Single by Terry Jacks
from the album Seasons in the Sun
B-side"Put the Bone In"
ReleasedDecember 1973
Songwriter(s)Jacques Brel, Rod McKuen
Producer(s)Terry Jacks
Terry Jacks singles chronology
"Concrete Sea"
"Seasons in the Sun"
"If You Go Away"
Music video
"Seasons in the Sun" on YouTube

Terry Jacks recordingEdit

The American poet Rod McKuen translated the lyrics to English. In 1964, The Kingston Trio first recorded an English version of Seasons in the Sun, which was later heard by Terry Jacks and became the basis for his rendition.

Jacks thought that the original version by Jacques Brel was too macabre and he rewrote the lyrics, inspired by a friend who was suffering from leukemia and died four months after the release of his version. Unlike the Jacques Brel version, Jacks' rendition instead tells of a dying man giving his last words to his loved ones. In the first verse the dying man gives his last words to his friend, whom he had known since childhood and reminisces the happy times they had such as playing together ("climbed hills and trees"), friendships with others ("skinned our hearts and skinned our knees") and studying together ("learned of love and ABC's"). The second verse has him addressing his father, who tried to give him a good upbringing and exert a positive influence on his undisciplined life ("I was the black sheep of the family", "You tried to teach me right from wrong", "wonder how I got along") which included vices and revelry ("too much wine and too much song"). The final verse shows him addressing "Michelle", possibly his daughter or niece, and stating how she lifted his spirit up in times of despair.

Jacks recorded "Seasons in the Sun" in Vancouver in 1973 with his then-wife Susan Jacks. They made the decision to record the song when The Beach Boys, who had recorded a version with Terry Jacks producing, decided to abandon their recording.

Jacks released his version as a single in 1973 on his own label, Goldfish Records. "Put the Bone In", an original composition about burying a deceased pet dog, was included as the B-side. The single soon topped the record charts in the U.S. (where it was released on Bell Records), in Canada, and the UK,[3] selling over 14 million copies worldwide.

Jacks's version was released in the United States in December 1973, and made the Billboard Hot 100 a month later. On March 2, 1974, the song began a three-week run at number one atop the Hot 100, and remained in the top 40 until almost Memorial Day weekend. Jacks's version also spent one week on the Easy Listening charts.[4] Billboard ranked it as the number two song for 1974.[5] Although he released several other singles that were moderately successful in Canada, "Seasons in the Sun" would become Jacks's only major solo hit in the United States.[6] In Canada, the single (Gold Fish GF 100) reached number one on the RPM Magazine charts January 26, 1974, and remained there four weeks.

Though the song enjoyed contemporary success, modern criticism takes a dimmer view, considering it overly sentimentalized. Jacks's version has been held up as an example of bad music, such as having been listed as one of the worst pop songs ever recorded and ranking number five in a similar CNN poll in 2006.[7]

Jacks also released a German-language version in Germany with lyrics by Gerd Müller-Schwanke, "In den Gärten der Zeit".[8]

Chart performanceEdit

Other versionsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "30 years since the death of Jacques Brel: his life, his art, his legacy". World Socialist Web Site. December 2008. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  2. ^ McKuen, Rod (April 8, 2000). "Remembering Jacques Brel". Flight Plan. Retrieved February 20, 2020. My first experience with Brel consisted of doing an unauthorized adaptation of 'Le Moribund', which I called 'Seasons in the Sun'... I subsequently learned that Brel had received my recording...
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 299. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 123.
  5. ^ "Number One Song of the Year: 1946-2015". Archived from the original on April 20, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel, "Top Pop Hits: 1955-2006, 2007.
  7. ^ Leopold, Todd. "The worst song of all time, part II - Apr 26, 2006". Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  8. ^ "In den Gärten der Zeit" at
  9. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  10. ^ " – Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  11. ^ " – Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Song artist 781 - Terry Jacks". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  13. ^ " – Terry Jacks Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  14. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Seasons in the Sun". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  15. ^ " – Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  16. ^ " – Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun". VG-lista.
  17. ^ " – Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun". Swiss Singles Chart.
  18. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  19. ^ "Terry Jacks: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  20. ^ "Terry Jacks Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  21. ^ "Terry Jacks Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  22. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 3/09/74". 1974-03-09. Archived from the original on 2018-01-15. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  23. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Forum - Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts - 1980s (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  24. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  25. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Swiss Year-End Charts 1974 -". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  26. ^ "Top 100 1974 - UK Music Charts". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  27. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1974/Top 100 Songs of 1974". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  28. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1974". 1974-12-28. Archived from the original on 2016-10-09. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  29. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary". Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  30. ^ Eder, Bruce. "The Kingston Trio - Time to Think". AllMusic. AllMusic. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  31. ^ "Country Music: Top Country Songs Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  32. ^ "Nirvana - With the Lights Out". Discogs. Retrieved 23 May 2020.

External linksEdit