No, no birthday to underline: it is 34 years since he left, Félix Leclerc. At 74 years old. No round numbers. Why, then, another book of testimonies? Whereas in 1998 there was the box set Happy who like Felixdecanted by the same Monique Giroux from ten hours of radio and 70 interviews? Basic answer in the introduction of the well packed 304-page book: “To perpetuate his memory. ” But still ?
“I don’t know if I would have done it if Pierre hadn’t asked me to,” the host admits bluntly, on Zoom, from her home in Oka. “I lacked neither projects nor activities, especially with all that the setting up of the Maison de la chanson entails. »
Life is like this, one would say: stacked. There is indeed that the journalist and commentator Pierre Gince wanted a “character of Quebec culture” in the same collection as his René Lévesque and uswhich are Robert Bourassa and us. Someone of stature who could be combined with us: Felix’s shoes had the right size. Big. “It was I who gave them, the arguments to convince him. He had to be the first. But why in 2022? Because we are in 2022, quite simply. Because otherwise, and this goes for our entire history, if we don’t repeat the exercise regularly, during our lifetime, what do we know about what those who will follow us will or won’t do? Yes, duty of memory. »
An in-depth portrait
You have to open the book to understand that the equation is not mathematical. We don’t just have 40 interviews in addition to the 70 from last time. As long as we walk from one virtual conversation to another, we see how much the portrait has been enriched. Almost on every page, we learn more, we understand better, we look differently. Thus we discover, detail that counts, the part of Alison, wife of Gilles Vigneault, in the famous show Charlebois-Vigneault-Leclerc of the Superfrancofête of 1974: it is she who suggested to the wolf, to the fox and to the lion to sing together When men will live on loveRaymond Lévesque’s anthem, in the final. His idea of a “significant end”, adds Vigneault. That’s the case to say.
Who told us about Dodo, Félix and Raymond Lévesque in Paris in 1951, before the fascinating story told by Dominique Michel here? “She describes the Paris not yet rebuilt, ‘a dark city’, we are with her and them like never before”, marvels Monique. “This book is what we can do now. With the living. There are those who weren’t thought of for the radio series, or who weren’t available then. There are those, many, who are no longer there. There are those who, on the next birthday, will no longer be there. There is therefore not only a duty to remember, but an urgency to say. It was therefore a question of probing thoroughly the Jean Lapointe, Guy Latraverse, Ferland, Hugues Aufray, whose memories, for some, reopened in certain corners not too frequented, behind the bundles of known anecdotes, revealing themselves to them ourselves as much as we have precious moments.
You have to read a Francis Leclerc evoking, from the height of his 12 years at the time, the meeting of an impressed Félix in front of a more than intimidated Maurice Richard. Who had relaxed the atmosphere by addressing the boy: “Like that, you’re a fan of Stastny and the Nordiques? No better witness possible. “There is a prescription,” said Monique. Time has not always blurred everything, nor rearranged memories: we are amazed by the precision of memories. And since we have Richard and Marie-Claire Séguin interviewed separately, the story of the recording of the Northern train benefits from variants which give a new dimension to the session produced by ex-Bel Canto René Letarte in Tony Roman’s studio.
We had never spoken of Felix to Nana Mouskouri, for example. “We spoke to Gérard Davoust, the big boss of Raoul Breton editions. That’s where I thought of Nana Mouskouri. She was so happy to be able to say how she had learned from him that you had to pay attention to the lyrics. She says, “I couldn’t just listen to his songs.” You had to read the lyrics to understand the different levels of understanding. We did not measure the influence of Félix, so great for a performer like her. »
This book, which might well not have existed, is therefore necessary, not to say indispensable. “There are not so many books on Quebec song. On the French song, French-speaking, that is counted by thousands! I have 48 books on Piaf! How much on Felix? Not a lot. Not one too many.