Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An Appreciative Look At Les Cowboys Fringants

Every once in a while, I go looking for Quebec popular music. Like American English, Quebec French diverged from standard Parisian French in part because the immigrants to North America came from places in France where the spoken language differed from the "standard" French. Additionally, conditions in North America caused Quebec French to diverge from the French spoken in France.

Although I do not speak French, I recognize the importance of their contribution to English. Additionally, I feel a sense of "hemispheric solidarity with speakers of Quebec French.

Quebec popular music deserves a lot more popularity than it gets. Some of it, like Gaston Mandeville, sounds like American country rock music, reminding listeners that a large part of America, centering around Louisiana was once a French possession.

Les Cowboys Fringants, which translates as "The Frisky Cowboys" is a socially progressive Quebec rock group that is performs in a style known as Quebec neotraditional. They sing about social themes such as poverty, environmentalism, corporate exploitation and Quebec independence. They are proud of their Quebec heritage and deal with it in their music.

I listened to one of their songs, La Reine des Cowboys Fringants, which dealt with an old woman who had lost a child and fought her sadness by spending her life feeding the homeless. The other song "La Chene et Roseau" translates as "The Oak and the Reed" Its theme of bending with the wind and rising reminds me of Tanya Tucker's "Strong Enough To Bend", which of course needs no translation to English speaking listeners.

I have always felt claustrophobic confining my music list to the English language. Les cowboys Fringants and the entire genre of Quebec rock is one of the reasons why.


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