Les plus désespérés sont les chants les plus beaux…

This striking and rather dramatic cover was illustrated by Pol Rab who is known for the two cartoon doggies Ric et Rac, later the title of a children’s magazine. According to Hergé they were inspirational to the creation of Tintin’s Snowy (or if you prefer Milou). But one inevitably makes the link with the famous dogs for Black & White Whiskey.

Ri-Rac-Milou

The song Pars gets its full flavour of self-pity and tragedy through Yvonne George‘s rendition. She is known for having lived the bohemian life in Montparnasse in the 20s, and the (often amorous) attention she got from intellectuals and artists such as Robert Desnos, Erik Satie, Henri Jeanson, Jean Cocteau, Maurice de Vlaminck, Kees van Dongen…  At the age of 33 Yvonne George died of tuberculosis in Genua, ravaged by the excesses of alcohol and drugs. Listen and weep!

 Pars sans te retourner
Pars sans te souvenir
Ni mes baisers ni mes étreintes
En ton cœur n’ont laissé d’ empreinte
Je n’ai pas su t’ aimer
Pas su te retenir
Pars sans un mot d’ adieu
Pars, laisse-moi souffrir
Le vent qui t’apporta t’emporte
Et dussé-je en mourir, qu’importe
Pars sans te retourner
Pars sans te souvenir

Portrait of Yvonne George, from a poster by Kees van Dongen
Yvonne George, poster designed by Kees van Dongen

Les plus désespérés sont les chants les plus beaux
Et j’en sais d’immortels qui sont de purs sanglots.

Alfred de Musset

Best are the songs most desperate in their woe —
Immortal ones, which are pure sobs I know.

Alfred de Musset translated by Emma Lazarus

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