Chansons de par icitte
After nearly 30 years of playing a mixture of traditional and original folk music en français, Les Chanteurs Acadiens are releasing an album of 15 original songs en français.
The album, Chansons de par icitte, hasn’t officially been released yet, but if you go to any of the band’s shows before the new year, they might sell you a copy just in time for the holidays!
All songs on this new album are composed by Don Levesque and arranged by the group, with the exception of BACDIE which was composed and arranged by Roger Damboise (and J.S. Bach!). Below, you’ll find background information and lyrics for the songs you’ll hear on the new album, as well as some links to videos to three new songs.
Chansons de par icitte features some of the same Vallée-specific themes and toe-tapping songs you’ve come to expect and love from Les Chanteurs Acadiens. The new songs, like almost all of Don’s original compositions, are about the unique Acadian/Québecois/Maliseet/English pot-pourri culture of northern Maine’s St. John River Valley, known locally as La Vallée.
Some songs are more specific than others. Fort Kent sour l’eau is about the 2008 flood in Fort Kent, and Rose Tulippe is based on an old folk tale. Ti-Bad is a true story that took place in 1966. Only one song, Les ésprits de ma vie, does not take place in the Valley, nor is it autobiographical.
These are folk songs even though a couple of the songs could be considered a little more rock ‘n’ roll than the usual Chanteurs Acadiens repertoire. But there are no screaming guitars or screeching feedback. After one listen, we think you’ll agree, those songs fit right in with the spirited concert repertoire you’re used to!
All songs were recorded on a laptop at Le Centre Mikesell in Madawaska, Maine with the exception of Can-Am est la Very Best and Read All About It, which were recorded at the Cellar Door recording studio also in Madawaska.
We hope you’ll enjoy these “chansons de par icitte” and that they recall pleasant memories for you, wherever you grew up.
Chansons the par icitte: Background and Lyrics, by Don Levesque
Grandi a Grand Isle: This song is a celebration of growing up in a small town in northern Maine. From fishing in the St. John River behind Leaudivine’s house to listening to and playing music, and riding our bicycles to Lille, etc. This song is autobiographical. Read Lyrics
Fort Kent soure l’eau: In early May 2008 both the rivers Fish and St. John flooded on the same day, something that very rarely happens. The mild-mannered Fish River normally flows gently into the St. John. During the May 2008 flood the entire downtown Fort Kent was flooded, including schools, homes and the Catholic church. National Guard helicopters were called in to bring food and water and other aid to those trapped on the other side of the raging water. I wrote a song to mark the event. Read Lyrics | Watch Video
Les blues de la Vallée Saint-Jean: A quasi political song about our lack of jobs, roads, etc, and, in spite of all our challenges, it is about our pride in the Valley. Read Lyrics
Les ésprits de ma vie: Imaginary scenario when someone loses someone they love and are suddenly left alone, standing in the window, “seeing” the ghosts of their past life. It’s the only song on the CD that does not directly reference the Valley nor is it autobiographical. It is just a story I made up and a song that we like. Read Lyrics
Y a d’quoi qui m’halle: When I graduated from high school in the mid-1960s many of my classmates, as had young people for many years prior, left the Valley to go work in Connecticut. They often came back to visit a few months later with a new car and nice clothes, telling us how great things were down there. In this song I imagine how I would have felt if I had followed them and stayed there for about 40 years. I believe I certainly would’ve wanted to come home – back to the beautiful St. John Valley, back among those who speak French in their everyday lives. This song, too, is imaginary. Read Lyrics
Rose LaTulippe: This is a very old folk tale about the danger of trusting strangers who could turn out to be the devil in disguise. A tall dark handsome stranger riding in a black buggy pulled by two black horses asked Rose LaTulippe to go to the dance with him that Saturday night. Rose, a pretty young lady, said yes but her mother forbade her from going. Rose, being a strong-minded young woman, didn’t listen to her mother. Here is what happened that night. This song features only me and my guitar. Read Lyrics
Flacatoune: When I was young my father, like many others in the Valley, would make beer in our basement. He would also make hard liquor. This is a tribute to those days. I also play the harmonica on this song. Read Lyrics
Ti-Bad: In 1966, at the age of 77, Ubald “Ti-Bad” Theriault of Lille went for a stroll after lunch on a Sunday afternoon and vanished. Volunteers, led by police and game wardens, searched a very long time, walking abreast across fields, into the woods behind the house, boats trawled the river, etc. No trace of him was ever found. I wrote this so he wouldn’t be completely forgotten. Read Lyrics
Vive tranquille: A love song about life as it sometimes was in Grand Isle. We had dragged an old car seat to the side of the St. John River and sat on it to fish. Every Saturday morning I weeded the garden by hand. Every Saturday afternoon I would wash the kitchen floor to help my mom. I was sometimes a good boy. We also worked after school and on weekends for local potato farmers, etc. This is also an autobiographical song. Read Lyrics
Musique de Grand Isle: When I was young, I would open the window in my bedroom on Saturday nights when I went to bed. I could hear the music playing in Guy Beaupré’s dance hall next door. I’d fall asleep with those songs in my head. Although this song is in French, the music I heard growing up was mainly in English. My mom liked Elvis, for example, and we liked the Beatles and Rolling Stones. To me it’s all La Musique de Grand Isle. But everyone I knew spoke French, so, it is how I express myself artistically. This features only me and my guitar. Read Lyrics
Not’e belle Vallée Saint-Jean: A love song to the St. John Valley. From dawn’s early light, to the moonlight dancing on a lake surface, to the millions of stars which cover the Valley. Read Lyrics
Y on déterré nos môrts pour dressir le chemin: In the 1970s the state of Maine decided to straighten a curve at the foot of La Montagne à Mont-Carmel between Grand Isle and St. David. I’ve been told that when the bulldozers started digging they discovered an ancient unknown cemetery. That is, they dug up old wooden grave markers. But they continued building the new road anyway. In 1976 the Madawaska Historical Society created a small monument there to honor our Acadian ancestors. The monument is still there today, maintained by volunteers. This song is sung in a happy tempo to reflect the state’s apparently cavalier attitude towards our deceased ancestors. Read Lyrics
Can-Am est la very best: The organizing committee of the annual Can-Am Sled Dog Races in Fort Kent commissioned us to compose a bilingual song to mark the 25th anniversary of the races. This was professionally recorded in Madawaska. Read Lyrics | Listen to Song
Read All About it!: We were commissioned to compose a song marking the merging of the Fiddlehead Focus, a digital newspaper based in Fort Kent, and the St. John Valley Times, a print newspaper based in Madawaska. Both were purchased by the Bangor Daily News and allowed to maintain its identity and character. This song was also recorded in a professional studio in Madawaska. Read Lyrics | Listen to Song
BACDIE, by J.S. Bach & Roger Damboise: Roger created an original and catchy instrumental song that somehow sounds familiar, by taking Bach’s Hymn to Joy and composing an original jig for the middle of the song.