The Belgian singer, who died on Saturday at the age of 72, signed a rich and eclectic discography made up of original songs and covers, in French and in English.
For five decades, Arno’s gravelly voice resonated on the French-speaking scene. The Belgian rocker, who died on Saturday at the age of 72 after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer, leaves behind him a rich and eclectic discography, where piano-voices have as much place as rock orchestrations, and where original songs alongside many covers.
From his beginnings with the group TC Matic, to his more recent songs which today sound like a return to the origins, a look back at his fifty-year career through five of his most representative songs.
• Whore Whore
Before making a place for himself as a soloist, Arno began his career by setting up the group TC Matic in the early 1970s. It was this formation that gave him one of his first great successes: whore whorea rock song with an inevitably catchy title for a provocative tribute to Europe.
“Damn, damn, it’s really good / We’re still all Europeans”, sang the group in this chorus.
The song has followed Arno throughout its journey, so many tributes since the announcement of his death quote the song. Last February, during one of his last appearances on stage, he performed the piece in duet with Stromae.
• Seaside Girls
Fast forward: 1993, Arno has been solo sailing for seven years. He has just released his fourth album, Idiots Scholarswhich ends with a repeat: Girls by the seatitle by Salvatore Adamo released in 1964.
This is one of the rocker’s specialties: revisiting standards from all musical horizons. He also attacked Serge Gainsbourg (Eliza) as well as Rolling Stones (Mother’s Little Helper) or at Queen (I Want To Break Free). As many rereadings as he had gathered in 2008 in the compilation Cocktail covers.
• Dancing Inside My Head
It is also on Idiots Scholars that is another of his most emblematic titles, Dancing Inside My Head. This song reflects Arno’s propensity to switch from French to English, and sometimes to Flemish, on the same disc.
Dancing Inside My Head was chosen as the title of Pascal Poissonnier’s documentary released in 2016: the director had worked to follow the singer in the process of creating his album Human Incognito.
• My Mother’s Eyes
In 1995, Arno released his fifth solo album, French-styleon which appears the title My mother’s eyes. This tribute to his mother, which combines a lyrical refrain (“In my mother’s eyes, there is always a light / Love I always find that, in my mother’s eyes”) and surreal verses (“It’s she who knows my feet stink / She’s the one who knows how naked I am / But when I’m sick / She’s the suppository queen”) would become one of her most iconic songs.
• Oostende good evening
Arno unveils the album Healthboutique in 2019, the penultimate that he will have published during his lifetime. You can hear it Ostend good eveninga melancholy hymn to the evenings spent in this coastal town in the Flemish region.
It is also the city where he was born, on May 21, 1949, where he grew up and with which he has always kept a very strong bond. Ostend had already appeared in his work, in particular through his revival of Like in Ostend released in 1995.
Tributes have multiplied since the announcement of his disappearance. From the world of French song, with Mireille Mathieu or Stromae, to the Belgian royal palace, via the political class, many personalities salute the memory of the singer.