Now, this is me trying to learn the language and to find out more about the place where I live - for some reason, it seems that memorising the music lyrics works out just fine as a learning tool for me. I am seriously studying the lyrics, trying to understand them without translation and listening the sound of the language. The obstacle here is that traditionally many of Dutch artists were dismissing the native language and insisting on English - so it helps to search out for the ones who had stuck to their guns and decidedly created music in Dutch, like this guy. I have rare experience to hear a music icon as Rob de Nijs for the very first time and to soak in his music without any previous knowledge or prejudice. Previously I heard his 1964. album "Dit Is Rob De Nijs" which was very pleasant slice of 1960s pop but nothing special - kind of Dutch Cliff Richards.
It took me some time to continue with his second album "In De Uren Van De Middag" (In the afternoon hours, yay I don't need a dictionary) that for some reason didn't register with me on the initial listening, but suddenly yesterday was just a perfect day or maybe I was simply more focused and suddenly everything clicked and I found myself enjoying the album immensely, reading the lyrics and basically getting it for the first time properly. First of all, this is not just another copy of some American star but a genuinely brilliant collection of original songs by Boudewijn De Groot who completely sidestepped the banal stereotypes and created quite inspired bunch of songs with characters from the history like "Jan Klaassen De Trompetter", "Malle Babbe", "Dag Zuster Ursula" and "Leonardo" (about you-know-whom) - it sounds ambitious but its actually surprisingly engaging because its combined with a very gentle, country-pop from the early 1970s (I would dare to compare it with John Denver or Jim Croce perhaps) and music is intoxicating even without understanding the lyrics - once I got my head around translations, however, the album was constantly played on replay.
Title "In De Uren Van De Middag" comes from the opening line of the closing song "Meisje In Engeland" which is all about gentle goodbye to a girl who has moved on with her life and its actually very beautiful song, in fact the whole collection is so strong that is almost impossible to recommend one song instead of another, because it looks as one of those classic albums where true gems shine better after repeated listening, when we can focus behind obvious hits and pay more attention to the rest. I kind of suspect that the album works so well because the best songs were carefully arranged somewhere halfway trough the collection, not at the predictable way at the start - just when the listener starts really enjoying the music, you have five massive classics positioned one after the other ("De Avond" just one of the many) so it feels as the whole album just gets better and better. I absolutely love this.