From his childhood days in Belgium in the early 1930s to the final reclusive years on a remote Pacific island in the late 1970s, this expansive study chronicles the life of the iconic Belgian chansonnier Jacques Brel. With new and rediscovered information, the narrative presents an extremely candid exploration of both a figurehead and a respected authority of modern songwriting whose global impact comes not from one or two standard songs—such as Seasons in the Sun and If You Go Away—but from myriad items spread over decades of translated covers and revivals. The survey examines the artist’s determination to avoid a legacy with the family cardboard business and develop a cultural life; it follows Brel's metamorphosis from a modest success as a vocalist in Belgium to a professional singer and songwriter in Paris and, ultimately, an international star. In addition to detailing the artist's parallel fame as an actor and director, the biography provides insight into Brel's attempts to sail around the world in a yacht and his enchantment with flight. The artist’s influence on later artists, including David Bowie, Judy Collins, and Scott Walker, is also detailed along with a recognition of his ongoing impact on modern-day musicians such as Marc Almond, Tom Robinson, Glen Matlock, and Nick “Momus” Currie.