05/20/2015 08:33 EDT | Updated 05/20/2016 05:59 EDT

40 Seasons in the Sun: Terry Jacks releases new album, Starfish on the Beach

As B.C. singer Terry Jacks releases a new album, Starfish on the Beach, to commemorate the success of his 1970s hit Seasons in the Sun, we look back at the song that made him a star.

It's been more than 40 years since Terry Jacks' Seasons in the Sun became a worldwide hit, selling 12 million singles after its release in 1973 and propelling him to global stardom.

But Jacks, now 71, says he's not sure he ever really loved the song, which tells the story of a dying man who bids farewell to family and friends while lamenting over how hard it is to die in springtime.

"I felt it when I sang it," he told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff. "It was kind of a first take. I could relate to a lot of it through things that had happened to me in my life and friends."

'Boy that's really different'

Seasons in the Sun was originally adapted by The Kingston Trio from 1961 French-language song Le Moribond by Belgian singer Jacques Brel, in which the dying man took a more sarcastic approach to his goodbyes. 

But Jacks says he was inspired to write his later, more emotional version by a good friend who died from leukemia sooner than expected — and it was his paperboy who convinced him to release it.

"He listened to it and he says, 'Boy, that's really different. I like that.'" Jacks recalled.

"The next day he brought six of his friends around to hear this song. I played it to them and they all really liked it. I thought, 'Well, I think I caught something in this song. I'm going to put it out.' So I put it out."

Jacks' new album Starfish on the Beach features not only Seasons in the Sun, but also 40 of Jacks' favourite songs, including a version of I'm Gonna' Love You Too by Buddy Holly, his mentor.

To hear the full interview with Terry Jacks, listen to the audio labelled: Seasons in the Sun celebrated