I was 20 and in Paris, Christmas, 1969, and I remember a fire-eater walking up and down the street across from La Coupole in the evening blowing flames out of his mouth and the smell of roasting chestnuts in the street and drinking hot grogs at the Select. The musical Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris had come out the year before in Greenwich Village and I liked the title without knowing who Jacques Brel was and I seem to recall seeing posters in Paris and wondering what he was doing there and why we were worried about him being alive and well (but perhaps this is a backward construction). Later when I was working at the Evening Times-Globe in Saint John, I would borrow LPs from the library. I borrowed a Rod McKuen record with this song on it and fell under the spell. I was young and a guy and it captured something of the self-dramatizing melancholy I was sure I felt most of the time.