Seasons in the Sun

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"Le Moribond"
7" vinyl single cover
Song by Jacques Brel
from the album Marieke
RecordedFebruary 22, 1961
Songwriter(s)Jacques Brel
"Seasons in the Sun"
German 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"
"Seasons in the Sun" on YouTube

"Seasons in the Sun" is an English-language adaptation of the 1961 Belgian song "Le Moribond" ("The Dying Man") by singer-songwriter Jacques Brel[2] with lyrics rewritten in 1963 by singer-poet Rod McKuen[3] portraying a dying man's farewell to his loved ones. It became a worldwide hit in 1974 for singer Terry Jacks and became a Christmas number one in the UK in 1999 for Westlife.

Background and lyrics[edit]

The first version of the song was recorded by Brel, who reportedly wrote it in a brothel in Tangiers. Sung in a marching tempo, it tells of a man dying of a broken heart and shows him saying his last farewells first to his close friend Emile, then to a priest, next to an acquaintance named Antoine, and finally to his wife, who has cheated on him numerous times with Antoine. Despite knowing of Antoine being his wife's lover, he wishes no ill upon him but tells him to take care of his wife. American Rod McKuen translated the lyrics into 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 rewrote the lyrics, although he is uncredited for it. He deemed the original version and its translations as "too macabre". The inspiration for the rewritten lyrics was his close friend Roger, who was suffering from acute leukemia and died four months later. The Terry Jacks rendition, which was later dedicated to the friend, has the dying man giving his last words to his loved ones with whom he shared his life, much like the original. However, unlike the Brel version, the man does not die broken-hearted but instead, acknowledges the rights and wrongs of his actions in life as he passes away peacefully.

In the rewritten version, the man first addresses a close friend whom he had known since childhood and reminisces about the happy times they had, such as playing and studying together ("climbed hills and trees", "learned of love and ABC's") and friendships with others ("skinned our hearts and skinned our knees"). He then addresses 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 overindulgence, vices, and revelry ("too much wine and too much song"). The man finally addresses a "Michelle", recounting how she had lifted his spirit up in times of despair. At the end of each verse, the man reminds all three that he is always present in spirit when they visit places or see people.[4]


According to Jacks, the Beach Boys asked him to be their producer during the sessions for the band's album Surf's Up. On July 31, 1970, they attempted a rendition of the "Seasons in the Sun", but the session went badly, and the track was never finished. Afterwards, Mike Love told an interviewer: "We did record a version [of 'Seasons'] but it was so wimpy we had to throw it out. ... It was just the wrong song for us."[5] The recording remained unreleased until the 2021 compilation Feel Flows.[6]

Jacks recorded his rendition in Vancouver in 1973.[citation needed] The piano arpeggio parts and double bass parts in the second verse were done by a young David Foster.[7]


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 US (where it was released on Bell Records), in Canada, and the UK,[8] selling over 14 million copies worldwide.[9]

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.[10] Billboard ranked it as the number two song for 1974.[11] 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.[12] 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, some modern critics take 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.[13]

Jacks also released a German-language version in Germany with lyrics by Gerd Müller-Schwanke, "In den Gärten der Zeit".[14]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada 312,000[47]
France 300,000[48]
United Kingdom (BPI)[49] Gold 500,000^
United States (RIAA)[51] Gold 3,000,000[50]
Worldwide 8,000,000[52]

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Westlife version[edit]

"Seasons in the Sun"
Single by Westlife
from the album Westlife
Released13 December 1999 (1999-12-13)[53]
StudioPWL Studios (London)
Westlife singles chronology
"Flying Without Wings"
"I Have a Dream" / "Seasons in the Sun"
"Fool Again"

Irish boy band Westlife released a cover of "Seasons in the Sun" in December 1999, as a double A-side with "I Have a Dream" and as a triple A-side in Australia with both "I Have a Dream" and "Flying Without Wings" included.[54] The release became the UK's Christmas number-one single of 1999, beating Cliff Richard's charity single "The Millennium Prayer" into the No. 2 spot, and also became the group's fourth UK number-one single. It then extended its peak into January 2000, spending a total of 17 weeks on the UK chart.[55] The song was the 26th best-selling single of 1999 in the UK and it was also the final number one single of the 1990s.

Track listings[edit]

  • United Kingdom & Ireland
  1. "I Have a Dream" (Single Remix) – 4:06
  2. "Seasons in the Sun" (Single Remix) – 4:10
  3. "On the Wings of Love" – 3:22
  • Australia
  1. "Flying Without Wings" - 3:35
  2. "I Have a Dream" (Remix) - 4:06
  3. "Seasons in the Sun" (Single Remix) - 4:10
  4. "Flying Without Wings" (Video) - 3:40


Chart (1999–2000) Peak
Czech Republic (IFPI)[56] 25
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[57] 7
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[58] 10
Germany (Official German Charts)[59] 24
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[60] 13
Ireland (IRMA)[61] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[62] 10
Norway (VG-lista)[63] 10
Scotland (OCC)[64] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[65] 15
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[66] 18
UK Singles (OCC)[55] 1

Other versions[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Billboard Top Soft Rock Hits: 1974" – via AllMusic.
  2. ^ "30 years since the death of Jacques Brel: his life, his art, his legacy". World Socialist Web Site. December 2008. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  3. ^ 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...
  4. ^ "Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks". 27 September 2023.
  5. ^ Badman, Keith (2004). The Beach Boys: The Definitive Diary of America's Greatest Band, on Stage and in the Studio. Backbeat Books. pp. 273–274. ISBN 978-0-87930-818-6.
  6. ^ Iahn, Buddy (June 2, 2021). "THE BEACH BOYS 'FEEL FLOWS' BOX SET DETAILED". The Music Universe. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  7. ^ "Wereldhit 'Seasons in the Sun' is van niet zomaar een Belg". (in Dutch). 24 June 2022.
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 299. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  9. ^ "Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks". 27 September 2023.
  10. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 123.
  11. ^ "Number One Song of the Year: 1946-2015". Archived from the original on April 20, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel, "Top Pop Hits: 1955-2006, 2007.
  13. ^ Leopold, Todd. "The worst song of all time, part II - Apr 26, 2006". CNN. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  14. ^ "In den Gärten der Zeit" at
  15. ^ a b "National Top 100 Singles for 1974". Kent Music Report. 30 December 1974. Retrieved 11 January 2022 – via Imgur.
  16. ^ "Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  17. ^ "Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  18. ^ "Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  19. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4963a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  20. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 4956." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  21. ^ a b c d e "Song artist 781 - Terry Jacks". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  22. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2021). "Terry Jacks". Sisältää hitin - 2. laitos Levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla 1.1.1960–30.6.2021 (PDF) (in Finnish). Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Otava. p. 113. Retrieved June 27, 2022.
  23. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Seasons in the Sun". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  24. ^ 28 April 1974
  25. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Terry Jacks" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  26. ^ "Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  27. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Archived from the original on 2020-10-09. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  28. ^ "Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun". VG-lista.
  29. ^ Portuguese Charts Archive. 1974.
  30. ^ "Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun". Singles Top 100.
  31. ^ "Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun". Swiss Singles Chart.
  32. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
  33. ^ "Terry Jacks Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  34. ^ "Terry Jacks Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  35. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 3/09/74". 1974-03-09. Archived from the original on 2018-01-15. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  36. ^ " – Terry Jacks – Seasons in the Sun" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON Terry Jacks"
  37. ^ * Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: singles chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
  38. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Forum - Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts - 1980s (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  39. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  40. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1974". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  41. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1974". MegaCharts. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  42. ^ Hung, Steffen. "Swiss Year-End Charts 1974 -". Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  43. ^ "Top 100 1974 - UK Music Charts". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  44. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1974/Top 100 Songs of 1974". Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  45. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1974". 1974-12-28. Archived from the original on 2016-10-09. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  46. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
  47. ^ Melhuish, Martin (July 19, 1975). "Singles Sales Do Not Mean Profit: Casino" (PDF). Billboard. p. 70. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved April 10, 2023.
  48. ^ Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP). Fabrice Ferment (ed.). "TOP – 1974". 40 ans de tubes : 1960–2000 : les meilleures ventes de 45 tours & CD singles (in French). OCLC 469523661. Archived from the original on January 11, 2021. Retrieved April 10, 2023 – via
  49. ^ "British single certifications – Terry Jacks – Seasons in the sun". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 10, 2023.
  50. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1985). Million selling records from the 1900s to the 1980s : an illustrated directory. Arco Pub. p. 453. ISBN 0668064595. Bell Records pickep up the rights for U.S.A. an it sold over three million there alone.
  51. ^ "American single certifications – Terry Jacks – Seasons in the sun". Recording Industry Association of America.
  52. ^ Melhuish, Martin (October 26, 1974). "Jacks: Remembrance of the Past". Billboard. p. 64. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved April 10, 2023.
  53. ^ "New Releases – For Week Starting 13 December, 1999: Singles" (PDF). Music Week. 11 December 1999. p. 23. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  54. ^ "Westlife - Flying Without Wings / I Have A Dream / Seasons In The Sun". 1999 – via
  55. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  56. ^ "Hitparada radia – 8/2000" (in Czech). IFPI CR. Archived from the original on 3 March 2000. Retrieved 21 January 2024.
  57. ^ "Billboard - Google Books". 29 January 2000. Retrieved 1 April 2014 – via Google Books.
  58. ^ "Westlife: I Have a Dream / Seasons in the Sun" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  59. ^ "Westlife – I Have a Dream / Seasons in the Sun" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  60. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 20 (02.3– 09.3 2000)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 3 March 2000. p. 12. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  61. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – I Have a Dream / Seasons in the Sun". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 20 January 2020.
  62. ^ "Westlife – I Have a Dream / Seasons in the Sun". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  63. ^ "Westlife – I Have a Dream / Seasons in the Sun". VG-lista. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  64. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  65. ^ "Westlife – I Have a Dream / Seasons in the Sun". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  66. ^ "Westlife – I Have a Dream / Seasons in the Sun". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  67. ^ Eder, Bruce. "The Kingston Trio - Time to Think". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  68. ^ "Country Music: Top Country Songs Chart". Billboard. 2 January 2013. Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  69. ^ "With the Lights Out". Retrieved 2023-04-06.
  70. ^ "Seasons in the Sun by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes". SecondHandSongs.
  71. ^ "Seasons in the Sun by Black Box Recorder". SecondHandSongs.

External links[edit]

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