As a followup to my previous post, I would also now like to present to you this list of things I have not yet observed in Quebecois music, but which I’d pay good money to hear. Or commission. I’m just SAYIN’. ;)
Bouzouki players. Because who says the violin players get to have all the fun in these songs? Yes, I know, the Irish bouzouki is a modern instrument. But this only goes to prove my point that if we wish to have bouzouki players appearing in the lyrics of songs that’ll be sung in a couple more hundred years, clearly we must start writing them NOW. Hell, if I can pull an entire novel with a bouzouki player in a lead role out of my brain, surely somebody out there can whip up a song or two about a bouzouki player and his or her general awesomeness!
Zombies. Because I have the following now stuck in my head:
Dans la ville de Seattle
Il y a une zombie fille
Gris comme la poussière
Traînante dans le sommeil
Il y a trois capitaines
Elle veut manger leurs cerveaux
I blame this on the Charbonniers’ excellent “Dans la ville de Paris”, the first complete Quebecois song I have learned how to sing. (NOT the first French song–that honor belongs to “Trois Navires de Ble”!) Because I mean, damn, the girl’s trying to get her dad’s attention after three days of being stuck in a tomb? What ELSE is she about to do but eat his brains, I ask you?
Also, I blame it on my general obsession with zombies, but as you know, Internets, I AM a giant nerd.
On the general theme of ‘galant, tu perds ton temps’, I wish to see queer belles who, after blowing off the nearest capitaines who are trying ever so hard to get their attention, promptly snog each other.
On the flip side of the previous, a couple of capitaines snogging each other wouldn’t go amiss, either!
And speaking of Galant Tu Perds Ton Temps, While I am 99.99 percent certain that those girls are not actually singing about “Monsieur Pants” in the song “Les promesses du galant” (which actually queues up if you go and visit their website, if you want to hear what I’m talking about), I now totally want to hear a song all about Monsieur Pants. claimed to me that he must surely be a Quebecois folk hero, renowned for traveling the province and donating his pants to needy belles. Or perhaps at least ATTEMPTING to donate his pants to allegedly needy belles who then proceed to laugh themselves silly about his outrageous pants, which seems rather more in keeping with the entire actual genre. That this is not a song that exists makes me sad, Internets!
I have yet to see a song about a barista refusing the advances of overcaffeinated computer geeks. But then, that may be a song that’ll work way better in Seattle.
Another song that’ll work way better if set in Seattle: a ditty about my marketboys. But then, I probably better still write that one, when I build up enough French! It’ll work something like:
What will you sell me, boys of the market?
What will you sell me, handsome boys?
(Fill in a name here) sells me oranges
(…. and you keep adding in a new line for a new boy every verse!)
(New name) sells me bananas
(New name) sells me apples
And (new name) sells me the berries, the red red berries, the red red berries of May
I’ve been having great fun, O Internets, learning that yeah, Quebecois trad is pretty much only a skip over from Celtic trad in general when it comes to the overall themes that show up in the songs. As I have frequently joked, the themes of Celtic music are Whiskey, Sex, and Death, and a lot of that applies to Quebec trad as well–though you could make a decent case for Religion also being a theme of the genre, in this case, and for swapping out Whiskey for Wine!
With that in mind, I have been taking note of overall character archetypes and themes I’ve spotted in songs I’ve been trying to translate, or which I have been learning off of translated lyrics from various bands’ websites or from lyrics wikis. I present for your amusement and edification the following things I have spotted in Quebecois trad music: People:
Band members (inserting themselves into their own songs)
Belles (waking up)
Belles (who are daughters of rich fathers, and pretending to be daughters of the town executioner)
Belles (who want their lovers to murder their mothers)
Belle (who really seriously want their parents to BACK OFF ALREADY when it comes to their chosen galants)
Belles (with unfortunate choices in galants who do not clue in when they’re supposed to making with the snogging)
Dragons (who are actually human soldiers as opposed to mythical giant lizards)
Fishermen (who have issues with their boats tipping over)
Galants (who may or may not be wasting their time trying to win the affections of les belles)
Galants (who are kind of thick-headed when it comes to seeing opportunities to snog their belles in the woods)
Husbands (who lament the scolding of their wives)
Innkeepers (who have issues with their tables not having enough legs)
Knights (transformed into dragons by cranky witches)
Lawyers (who belles do not for the love of GOD want to marry, except their fathers are pressuring them into it)
Mothers (who somehow manage to be concerned about their sons even after being murdered and having their hearts removed, Edgar Allan Poe much?)
Parents (cranky about their daughters accepting the affections of unsuitable galants)
Parents (anxious about the chosen dangerous professions of their sons)
Priests (pursued by women)
Priests (pursuing women)
Priests (who are actually disguised gallants)
Princesses (who are doleful about their knights getting transformed into dragons)
Roofers (who have issues with falling off of roofs)
Shepherdesses (cranky about the shooting of their ducks)
Soldiers (successfully wooing belles)
Soldiers (NOT successful at wooing belles)
Sons of kings (who make shepherdesses cranky for shooting their ducks)
Vintners (who are very bad at making wine)
Vintners’ assistants (who are very GOOD at making wine)
Violin players (who are preferred lovers, not that there’s any bias in that song or anything)
Witches (going around transforming nice young knights into dragons, I mean, the NERVE of some people)
Wives (cranky about their husbands drinking too much, messing around with other women, or both of the above)
Wives (who are not terribly good at household chores, and trust me, you don’t want to know what this one girl wound up doing to her cat)
Wives (who want to poison their husbands) Animals:
Dragons (who are actually transformed knights)
Ducks (STILL not sure what the heck they were doing next to the wedding bed in that song)
Snow Geese Locations:
Bedrooms (in which locale the activity of the song ought to be obvious)
Churches (in which priests are frequently pursued and/or pursuing, or which young lovers are illicitly meeting)
Inns (all SORTS of shenanigans going on in inns)
Kitchens (more shenanigans)
Mills (yet more shenanigans, lots of mills in these songs)
Woods (oh my yes with the shenanigans) Things:
Bottles (generally presumed to be containing wine)