Comments on her songs by Dani Klein
What's A Woman?
Dirk and I were splitting up and I was devastated. I couldn’t eat nor sleep and we were in the middle of recording our second album. While we were waiting in a room before appearing in a Dutch television program, Jean-Michel took his guitar out of its case out of boredom, and started strumming some chords that I sang a melody to. The next day I wrote the lyrics in one go. The song contains all the pain I was feeling.
Dirk was very close to his mother who stood by him no matter what. He died of an overdose at her house (He did not die of AIDS as some journalists had written), he was only 29 years old. The few times I had spoken to him after we broke up I had told him I feared for his life if he didn’t stop drinking and taking drugs the way he did.
Shortly before he died, he called me and said laughing: ‘Hear for yourself, I’m not dead yet!' He passed away a couple of weeks later. I wrote the song right after I heard the awful news.
Don't Break My Heart
This was a song written with Luc Weisser, who was also with Vaya Con Dios at the very, very beginning, but did not stay. I just loved this song.
We traveled all the way to Rajasthan (India) to shoot the video clip. Danny Willems, the director, had decided that I was to dance with a snake around my neck, to sit on the branch of a tree where monkeys lived and to cross a river full of broken glass at the bottom. One of the crew members had to carry me on his shoulders and wounded his feet in the process. It was very hot and they were holding light reflectors directed on my face. I was not happy about it and said so, but the clip was the priority, not me, nor the two young girls who, in exchange for a little bit of money, had shaved their heads and had had to live with shame until their hair grew long again.
The clip came out beautifully, when I later saw the movie ‘Latcho Drom’ by Tony Gatlif, I realized where Danny had gotten his inspiration from.
At the parallel
I used to sing that song written by Geert Kliphuis long before Vaya Con Dios existed. Geert wrote beautiful songs and I produced one of his albums he recorded under the name Jay Conrad, called ‘A Penniless Gentleman’. I love his songs.
Just A Friend Of Mine
This is about this one guy who is there all the time, but his girl is following someone else. The first guy has to stay in the background and it makes for a very awkward situation.
Comme on est venu
The music was written by my son Simon (DJ Simon LeSaint) and figured on a record of the RAP group: CNN199, he used to be part of in the nineties. I kept the title written by the rapper Rival and rewrote the lyrics together with Uman. Defi J, a Belgian rapper, sings the part in Arabic dialect written by Rival too.
The song is about the atrocities people commit in the name of God, the pain it causes, the hypocrisy behind it and the absurdity of it all.
The lyrics are about the relationship between Dirk and his mother. Her husband had been a mean and violent man who ended up abandoning his family when his children were still young. She had to work hard and had raised her kids without any financial help. Feeling Dirk had suffered enough under the hand of his father, she stood by him in everything he did. Unfortunately, her love was not enough to save him from his demons.
We were jamming with Jean-Michel (guitar) at his place and Dirk started singing ‘Aïe, aïe, aïe Puerto Rico’. I wrote the lyrics to the song imagining a bad boy leaving his country and his girlfriend behind to try and make it in the United States of America. During the recording session, Carmelo Prestigiacomo, came up with the catchy intro guitar part. To this day I have never visited Puerto Rico, I’m thinking about it.
When the record came out we went on tour and played in Johannesburg amongst a lot of other places. There were posters everywhere of me sitting on a chair. My musicians were having a drink at the hotel bar when a white South African man asked them where they came from and what they were doing in town. They said they were the band with ‘Vaya con Dios’. The man asked what the name meant; they answered Go with God. The man who had seen the posters all over town was shocked and replied: ‘Can you tell me what a girl posing with her legs spread open has to do with God?’.
In 1978, I was living in Long Beach (California) and my boyfriend was a black karate champion who lived in Compton. He had warned me that unlike in Europe the streets in America were unsafe and had advised me strongly not to walk alone in my neighborhood after dark.
A year later I happened to be in Philadelphia with my son and a girlfriend when one night, as we were walking back to our place, the lights of the city went out. The power cut lasted for a few hours and there was a lot of looting going on. It was very scary.
La pirogue de l'exode
I fell in love with Africa as soon as I set a foot on the continent. The smell, the food, the people, the music, everything enchanted me. It was plain to see though, that life was very difficult for many Africans and that most young people were desperate to emigrate to Europe.
I met Bao Sissoko in Brussels at a mutual friend’s place where he had been playing his kora. Appalled by the stories of migrants who were dying trying to cross the sea, I asked him if we could write a song together. Uman co-wrote the lyrics with me.
Nah Neh Nah
One day Dirk was playing bass, Jean-Michel was playing guitar and Dirk just came up with this thing “Nah Neh Nah”, so I just wrote the rest of the song around his idea.
My son Simon played the original version by Don Omar to me and I was completely taken aback. I loved the atmosphere, I loved the lyrics, I loved everything about it. I don't know why, but I just knew I wanted to record a French version of the song.
Don't Cry For Louie
It's a song about guys who take advantage of women, who play on their emotional weaknesses. They try to make the girls believe they mean something to them, but in the end, these guys just turn things around in order to use them.
It ́s an Edith Piaff song and at the very beginning Dirk, Willy, and I already had an Edith Piaff song in the repertoire, so this felt good.
I Don't Want To Know
This girl hears all the stories about what her boyfriend is doing – chasing other women, drinking and getting into fights when she is not there. And then her so-called “good friend” comes over to tell her all the stories. But she does not want to know - especially from “that” person.
This also has a bit of a movie feel to it. This guy and girl meet in a bar and both are in need of a bit of affection and tenderness and she is encouraging him to go for it because they are never going to meet again anyway.
Heading For A Fall
I said to Dave Collins, ”I'd like something that sounds like Hot Chocolate”. So we wrote this!
Far Gone Now
A black and white movie scenario of this girl who let a man go and regrets it. Of course, it is too late.
This is about my relationship before Dirk's left the group and his passing away. It was a very passionate and very difficult relationship. As much as we loved each other, we sometimes hated each other – and that is what the song is about.
Stay With Me
Yes, a dance song. At the time I wanted the music to be a bit happier – and danceable.
Je L'Aime, Je L'Aime
Is the anthem of the gypsy people. My father first bought me a single of the song from a film soundtrack in the 1960 ́s. I don't know why, but I just wanted to record it.
I think people don't look at or hear each other properly. We don't listen to what they really want or really feel. We think that what we want is what they want, and this is not always the case.
Some Like It Hot
This was written by Jean-Pol and Thierry with me in my mind. I just improvised the melody and immediately it just felt right. We love the result.
What's A Woman ? (special Bonus Track featuring Aaron Neville)
Aaron has a unique voice that totally blows me away when I hear it. A male voice singing “What ́s A Woman?” just adds another dimension to the song.
Sold My Soul
I'm always writing songs about these disastrous relationships! These relationships are exciting at one point but can turn out to be nightmares. This time if someone calls the woman and it is not the guy, she is not even interested in taking the call.
Pack Your Memories
... is about when the story is over. You have to get on with things, leave the past behind and move on.