Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mes Aïeux - Dégénération : Jewish Thoughts About a Quebec Song

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Every once in a while I look for Quebec music. As an English speaker, I think often of the influence French has had on our language, giving it an expressive range that would otherwise be lacking.

As a Jew, I also feel a connection to the Quebecois. For centuries, the Quebecois chafed under the cultural domination of English speakers. Swimming against the tide, they worked hard to preserve their language, sometimes going to impractical lengths to do so. Although I feel they could have done far better in accommodating English speaking Quebec inhabitants, the issues they raise are profound.

I found a song by a group called "Les Aieux". I am very fortunate to have found it with subtitles. The song is called "Degeneration". It follows the progress of a Quebec family from its devout and idealistic beginnings in Quebec and traces the "progress" of succeeding generations. The title is plain in conveying its disapproval of the downward spiral. The words have a stark and weary eloquence. The song is a protest song but not in the conventional sense. It focuses very clearly on the personal "lifestyle"choices and the impact they have on society. The song has a distinctly "Quebec " feel to it. Despite this, it has a universal resonance.

Although I am guarded about my personal and family life, I do seek advice at times when I feel the need. From family to family, from house to house, there are universal themes that recur. There are likewise universal themes among nations. When someone speaks of the desire to see good come of their children, it resonates with me. When someone speaks of a language and a history they want to pass on, I understand the feeling very well, because I have the same feelings . Experiencing my love for my family and for the Jewish nation gives me a deeper empathy for other nations. War and discord sadden me. I hope and pray for a time when the nations of the world will in their uniqueness complement and assist rather than fight each other.

This song focuses powerfully on the place where individual choice meets social change. I am happy to share it with my readers. Sphere: Related Content

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