In this, the first Voices from the North interview of 2010, Golden Globe winner Amanda McBroom shares her love and passion for the music and presence of Jacques Brel. Five songs from Chanson, Amanda’s latest CD, recorded in 2009, are featured including I Loved, Song for Old Lovers, Ca Va, Ne Me Quitte Pas (you may know this one as Don’t Leave Me) and If We Only Have Love. We probe gently into the life of Jacques Brel (France’s premier balladeer of the 60s) including his last sailing journey which brought him to the South Pacific. He was buried beside Paul Gauguin in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia. This is a lovely, flowing, musical interview.

Chanson was skilfully arranged by Stefan Oberhaff and Michele Brourman. They played many of the instruments featured in the recording but significant contributions have been made by other musicians including flugelhorn by Oscar winning Mark Isham. Amanda’s voice and Isham’s horn on If We Only Have Love combine to produce a song of haunting quality. Overall, this is music not to be missed. It travels straight to the heart and captures the essence of Brel.

Lyrics | – IF WE ONLY HAVE LOVE lyrics

For more on the salvage of Askoy II, the 60 foot steel hulled yacht sailed by Jacques Brel to the South Pacific visit here. And for the interview I did with author and sailor, Lyndsay Wright, who pointed this out to me click here.

For my complete one hour interview with Amanda please click below:

For my 2009 interview with Amanda McBroom visit here.

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John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life. 



Shahzad Rose

Shahzad Rose





I received the following story in my inbox early last year. I was touched and inspired and I duly forwarded it to a cadre of friends. Little did I know the implications this one simple act would have on my life.


The Rose


The first day of school our Professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. 

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant Squeeze.

“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.

She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids.”

“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

“I’ve always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.

We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed, she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You’ve got to have a dream.

“When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it! There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.”

She concluded her speech by courageously singing The Rose.

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.


After receiving the story from me by email, a dear friend, Dave, living just a block away from us here in Coopers Beach, asked if I knew that the writer of the song, The Rose, named Amanda McBroom, had a vacation home in New Zealand. I replied that I’d not even heard of Amanda McBroom; I’d always associated The Rose with Bette Midler. Dave then informed me that Amanda’s vacation home was in Coopers Beach and that she and her husband visited once a year.


I immediately googled Amanda McBroom, found her website and contacted her agent about doing an interview with her the next time she visited New Zealand. Our discussions and the eventual interview are the subject of another blog found here.






AMANDA MC BROOM has been called “…the greatest cabaret performer of her generation, an urban poet who writes like an angel and has a voice to match.” Her name first came to the attention of the music public when Bette Midler’s version of Amanda’s song THE ROSE hit number one all over the world in 1979. But it was Amanda’s performance of her own song on the Golden Globes (she won), Grammys (she didn’t) and The Tonight Show that launched her career as a singer as well as songwriter.


Her songs have been recorded by the likes of Bette Midler, Leanne Rimes, Barry Manilow, Judy Collins, Barbara Cook, Anne Murray, Harry Belafonte, Betty Buckley, Stephanie Mills, The Manhattan Transfer, Donny Osmond, the Chipmunks, and the Baby Dinosaurs in LAND BEFORE TIME (she wrote all the songs for 11 Universal Cartoon videos). But growing audiences worldwide became convinced that the best interpretations of McBroom songs are by Amanda McBroom herself (from Amanda’s website:  )


On January 14th, 2009 Amanda joined me for one hour on Voices from the Northamanda_mcbroom-image2 in our little studio on the hill in Coopers Beach. She shared her music and stories from her life.  

Her father, David Bruce, was a movie star playing alongside Errol Flynn, who happened to also be his best friend. Bourbon and the fast life took their toll on David Bruce and eventually took him away from Amanda. Her story of their reunion, his getting back into the business and his death, is touching in the extreme.


Amanda shares the love story she has lived with her husband George for the last 40 years (they’ve been married 34 of those years). She sees the secret of the success of their relationship as having respect for each other, wanting the best for the other, being each other’s greatest fans and having two bathrooms (not necessarily in that order).


The complete interview is below:


Amanda also shares the story of how the song, The Rose, arrived while driving in traffic and how the song’s fame changed her life. Her dream has always been to create something healing and The Rose continues to spread its healing magic today. She also speaks of her upcoming CD, Chanson, featuring Jacques Brel’s songs, all but one in English, and due to be released in March. Like her other 7 or 8 CDs, it will be available online here on her website.


Songs featured during the interview include Errol Flynn, Here and Now, The Rose, A Timeless Thing and part of Make Me a Kite in closing. Listen and prepare to be inspired.


The Rose

by Amanda McBroom


Some say love, it is a river,

That drowns the tender reed.

Some say love, it is a razor

That leaves your soul to bleed.

Some say love, it is a hunger,

An endless aching need.

I say love, it is a flower,

And you its only seed.


It’s the heart afraid of breaking

That never learns to dance.

It’s the dream afraid of waking,

That never takes the chance.

It’s the one who won’t be taken,

Who cannot seem to give,

And the soul afraid of dying,

That never learns to live.


When the night has been too lonely

And the road has been too long,

And you think that love is only

For the lucky and the strong,

Just remember in the winter,

Far beneath the bitter snows,

Lies the seed that with the sun’s love

In the spring becomes the rose.


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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.

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