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Recently, being an avid listener of world music, I decided to delve into French Canadian music. At the recommendation of a friend, I bought what I was told was an avant-guarde quebecois CD: Le plancher des vaches (the floor of the cows) by Fred Fortin.
The first cut reveals the care that didn't go into making this album. Before any actual music starts, there are 25 whole seconds of white noise; then a chord, apparently played to make sure the guitar is in tune (luckily enough, it is); then, 30 seconds into the track, finally the song starts. Obviously whoever recorded this album is completely incompetent in the studio-- not only they don't know how to set up a proper noise-free environment (it is evident they used obsolete analog equipment), they forgot to cut out the beginning of the tape with this extraneous noise, and left it on the master! There is no excuse for this. Digital equipment is cheap nowadays, and one can do this in a second! And they should learn to adjust the gain control on the microphones; on several tracks, it is set too high, and the sound is compressed and distorted, especially the voice.
Anyway, Fortin, in this first song, tells us about how bad his life is. His car is broken, his house is falling apart (literally), he's got a glass eye and dentures, he doesn't have a mailbox (I guess the wind blew it away). This, of course, explains why he's putting out an album-- the guy obviously needs the money. But he also tells some more unsavory things; a line in the song describes how he masturbates at the same rhythm as his bed (Je me branle au même temps que mon vieux lit [I took the liberty to correct the spelling from the booklet]). I'm sorry, but I really don't want to hear about his private perversions, nor do I understand what the hell he means by that, given that beds don't masturbate, as far as I know (of course, I don't go to degenerate "sex shops," so I don't know if such a perversion has been invented). Also, he sings Je prie [au] Bon Dieu qu'il se ferme la bouche [again, I correct his barbarous French], "I pray to the good God that He shut up His mouth." Notwithstanding the general offensive tone of the song, this blasphemous line is going too far. But much worse is to come.
In the second track, "Canayens," Fortin essentially tells a lot of lies. He sings that he is a hockey player for the Canadiens (Quebec City's hockey team). I checked their roster on the web, however, and they don't show a Frederic Fortin as being with them. Apart from this, the track is about such things as his wife (does he really have a wife? another lie?) asking him for money to get breast implants.
You will all have to excuse me for this aside, but if French Canadians want to escape the stereotypes that they suffer from in the rest of Canada (that of sex-obsessed hockey freaks), they better not write songs that manage to combine the topics of hockey and breast implants.
The third song, "La marche à Léo," makes no sense. It is some sort of rant about women, Elvis, his dog Léo and chocolate cake. In the song Fortin offers his soul (and his dog's) to Satan, continuing the worrysome blasphemous pattern from track 1.
Track 4, "Monsieur Net", is about his relationship with his supposed wife. He somehow tries to disparage her by describing her as a clean and proper person, while somehow elevating himself by his self-presentation as an offensive, dirty, bad-speaking shop clerk from the backwoods (wasn't he a hockey player in Quebec City 2 tracks ago? He contradicts himself), as if that were a virtue. I am truly sorry for his wife.
Track 5, "Gaspard", is truly disgusting. The words vividly describe the defecatory difficulties of a starving abandoned cat. Its owners turn out to have murdered their landlord and taken off. The cat finds the corpse and decides to eat it. Truly the work of a sick mind who revels in shit and repressed cannibalistic fantasies.
While the previous track nearly made me vomit, it also made me think that this vile record could not get worse. But it did. It got much worse. Track 6, "Bandé dedans mon lit" ("On my bed with an erection") was frankly too much. The author describes a dream of his where he was in the verge of deflowering the Virgin Mary. He blasphemously describes as having un cul si jolie, surtout si on le regarde de pres / ma langue a bien envie de lui montrer un peu de respect ("a really pretty ass, especially if one looks at it from close / my tounge really desires to give it some respect.") This was too much. I removed the CD from the player and burned it in my backyard. I didn't just throw it on the garbage because some innocent soul might come upon it and be infected by the evil within.
Thus I must say that I now have a very bad opinion of French Canadian music. It is antichristian, vulgar and blasphemous, badly recorded and incredibly sick. It is really a barometer of how low quebecois society has fallen that such things can be recorded, or even though of, there. I can't imagine how depraved the current generation of French-Canadian youths will end up from hearing such things on the radio.