One of Brel's undisputed masterpieces, it was first perfomed at the Olympia in Paris in 1964 and received a three minute standing ovation. It's Brel's vision of freedom, the freedom of sailors to sing, dance, eat, carouse, whore and take pride in their virility, the joy spoiled only by unfaithful women (who probably have their own vision of freedom.) In his own words (translated): "Amsterdam is the symbol of the adventure which begins tomorrow which men dream of. It's kind of a song of virility, in truth." You may have heard Mort Shuman, David Bowie, Dave Van Ronk , Robert Cuccioli and countless others sing the English adaptation by Shuman/Blau, but if you haven't seen Brel present it in French, you're missing the real thing. Here it is.
Thanks to Ema of Rennes, France for help with this translation.