Seasons in the Sun” was a worldwide hit song for Terry Jacks in 1974. It was first released in the United States and Canada early in the year, and rose to number one in America by March 2. An earlier recording appeared on The Kingston Trio’s 1963 album, Time to Think. The song had also been done by English band The Fortunes in 1968, and by Pearls Before Swine in 1970/71.
The song was based on “Le Moribond” (“The Dying Man”), written by Jacques Brel in 1961. Brel’s song was translated into English by poet Rod McKuen and this version was first recorded by Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio, but it did not sell. The Beach Boys also recorded the song but it was never released.
Terry Jacks, who had participated in the Beach Boys recording, and who had in fact introduced the song to the group, rewrote part of the lyrics to “lighten them up.” Jacks’ revisions tended to add a bit of ambiguity as to the nature of the storyteller’s demise, allowing listeners the option to choose whether the death is from suicide over a failed life – quite possibly to escape drug addiction – or someone accepting death from natural causes, or cancer. References to a cheating wife were also removed.