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  • Writer's pictureGabrielle Bossy

Songs from Canada: Quebec

Well, well, well. . . or as the French would say, bien, bien, bien. Okay, to be honest, I don't think that translation really works. That would be more like saying, "good, good, good." Regardless, it's time to tackle the next province on this tour across Canada (which is moving in no particular order). If you missed the posts on Ontario and British Columbia...what are you waiting for?! Go now!

Quebec is a unique one obviously because a lot of the songs about the scenic province are in French (whoda thunk it?). While I have absolutely nothing against it and there are SO MANY great French-Canadian songs, I've chosen to stick with the ones written in English because most of my readers and me, primarily speak English. That being said, that's a little too narrow-minded for my liking so please stay tuned for a post of some of my fav Francophone jams coming up! I'd like to give this the attention it deserves. So without further ado, songs about Quebec in English:

1. Baby Blue- Wolf Parade

This indie band out of Montreal formed in 2003 and has a brand new E.P. coming out THIS month (talk about timing, eh?). In their song, "Baby Blue", they sing about going back to Montreal and dancing in the kitchen. It's pretty damn romantic if you ask me. Pre-order their new album, Thin Mind today.

2. Neighbourhood #1-4- Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire is perhaps Quebec's most famous English-speaking band (fight me on this if you think I'm wrong). Their songs Neighbourhood #1 through #4 appear on their iconic Funeral album. Follow the story line of oppressed lovers who in the first song tunnel through the snow to each other's windows. While the songs may not necessarily take place in Montreal, it's easy to imagine they do.

3. Problem Bears- The Tragically Hip

Once again, Gord Downie managed to capture the obscure and authentic Canada in Problem Bears. Opening lyrics " Writing a song about Lake Memphremagog/ And tonight I don't believe/ There are words to spare and be a tip and a nod/ Admitting it's half the defeat", pull upon the scene of a glacial lake between Vermont and Quebec. They go on to discuss Shakespeare, Voltaire, "two tough-talking goalies" and more in relationship to the land. This one isn't on Spotify folks so I popped "Looking for a Place to Happen" on the playlist as it also has some Quebec ties.

4. Montreal- The Weeknd

French and English collide in this ultra cool track from The Weeknd. While apart from the French, the lyrics don't scream "Quebec!", the name of the song sure does.

5. Suzanne- Leonard Cohen

We're pretty lucky that through his iconic poetry and songs, we can experience Leonard Cohen's world. Arguably one of Canada's most beloved and missed poets, Cohen shared bits and pieces of Montreal in several songs and poems including the iconic "Suzanne". He describes the St. Lawrence River and the harbour in a magical way.

6. James Bay- Lloyd Cheecho

I actually discovered this song through The Great Trail of all places and I really dig it. Originally a 1970s folk song that was only partially completed, Cree musician Lloyd Cheecho recorded it in 2014 for Native North America, which ended up receiving a Grammy.

7. Words in the Fire- Patrick Watson

Hailing from Hudson, Quebec and studying music at Vanier in Montreal, Patrick Watson the band began when they created music to go along with a book of photography. Since then they've performed with the likes of James Brown, Feist, The Stills and more. From this track, it's easy to see (or rather, hear) why.

8. Of Montreal- The Stills

Founded in 2000 and since disbanding, The Stills have released a total of three albums full of dissonant, heartbreaking and gorgeous music worth standing still for. This song is no exception. Seriously, listen to that guitar.

Thanks for listening! Stay tuned for the next provincial songs blog...whenever that may be.

Peace, love & history.

P.S. Can't get enough? Check out this recent interview with Black Suit Devil.

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