It’s no secret that I’ve got a huge crush on Rouyn-Noranda. What do you do when you’re crushing hard on someone in the dead of winter? You make them a mixed tape, of course!
So here it is : a mixed tape of weird and wonderful winter themed songs that should keep you company on your long drive to Rouyn-Noranda this week.
Download Raque Tique Tow Tow! here, drop it into iTunes, learn some odds things below, and please, don’t pass the snowplow on the highway, ok?
1. L’adorable femme des neiges – Christie Laume
Let’s get this started with some great garage-yéyé from France. The year is 1967 and Christie Laume is living the dream in Paris after her brother Théo Sarapo marries French musical legend Édith Piaf. “Suddenly because of them, I was living a life of a celebrity without being one.”
In this first track, Laume signs about being an adorable snow lady and warns us about the dangers of avalanches.
2. Popsicles and Icicles – The Murmaids
Fine, this song isn’t all about winter and snow, but it’s a damn good song, and now I want a banana Popsicle. This one hit wonder by the Murmaids reached #3 on the billboard charts on December 7th 1963.
3. Mister Iceberg – Serge Gainsbourg
Little known fact: in 1990, Gainsbourg visited Rouyn-Noranda where he learnt how to swear in Québecois. Mister Iceberg is your typical Gainsbourg from the mid ’70’s L’homme à la tête de chou period, although this track doesn’t seem to appear on any of his official releases.
4. Tant que la neige – Philippe B
From his debut self-titled solo album, here’s a wonderfully sombre winter themed folk balade from Rouyn-Noranda’s own Philippe B. I’ve been following Philippe since his little cousin showed me Gwenwed’s first album when I was in high school. Like it? Buy it here.
5. The Canadian Dream – Sam Roberts Band
“Everything moves real slow when it’s forty below.”
Yup. Fact. Let this nostalgia fuelled track from Montréal’s Sam Roberts zip that coat up for you.
6. Le fond de l’air est frais – Jacques Dutronc
“Moi, sous mes pantalons,
Je porte des caleçons longs.
C´est ceux de mon tonton
Qu´a du poil au menton.”
Roughly translates as:
“Under my pants,
I wear long-johns.
They are my uncles
Who has a hairy chin.”
Hmmm. I swear, it sounded better in French. This bubbly track by France’s 1960’s hit-maker Jacques Dutronc was co-written by the french comic book writer Fred. Don’t forget your long-johns, ok? You’ll thank me later.
7. Demain l’hiver – Robert Charlebois
This one just had to be here. Robert Charlebois is a little bit (ok, a lot bit) of a legend in the Québec music scene. He’s a real goof with quirky lyrics, a psychedelic attitude and a highly contagious nonchalance (that even brought him to record with Frank Zappa in 1977). On this track, Charlebois sticks his middle finger to winter and heads south. I will attempt a translation for your pleasure (but mostly mine).
“Je vous laisse les enfants qui ont la langue collée sur les tracks
Et qui pleure parce que le train s’en vient
Je vous laisse les enfants mangés par la souffleuse
À quatre heures dans un fort top secret”
“Screw those kids with their tongues stuck on railroad tracks crying like babies because the train’s heading straight for them!
Screw those kids eaten alive by the snowplow at 4 AM because their snow fort was a little too well hidden!”
8. Chilly in the Shack – Québec Redneck Bluegrass Project
What do you get when four guys from Chicoutimi meet in China and decide to form a trashy bluegrass band? You get a little something like this.
9. Moi, j’viens du Nord – Robert Paquette
Every region’s got it’s folk anthem. Abitibi has Raôul Duguay and La bitt à Tibi. Where I’m from, Northern Ontario, we have Robert Paquette and Moi, j’viens du Nord ‘stie. Strap those snowshoes on and raque tique tow tow!
10. Lit vert – Plume Latraverse
Plume Latraverse is undoubtedly one of the most influential names in Québec counterculture. He hates winter.
11. Chant sacré – Laurent Paquin
So I get up one morning, look outside and notice one of those torrid winter storms taking a giant dump on the city. Uh. I check Facebook and my lovely father had posted this video on my wall. Yes, it’s basically just one long 38 second swear. ‘Scusez-la!
12. Snowmobile Song – Stompin’ Tom Connors
An ode to motors, winter fun and ladies like only Stompin’ Tom could write! This song is particularly relevant now that we’ve learnt that the snowmobile might have been invented in Abitibi and a prototype from 1926 might have inspired Joseph-Armand Bombardier (I used a photo of the prototype as this compilations cover).
Also, if you haven’t heard Stompin’ Tom’s Movin’ on to Rouyn on the excellent compilation that the Vente de garage blog put out before the FME in 2013, do it, now.
And now for your French humour break:
Comment t’appelle une motoneige prostituée? Une skidoune.
13 + 14. Saint Skidoo + Le Doux Renard – Illustration (from the Après Ski soundtrack)
In 1971, a maple syrup porn called Après ski from Québec was released. It is still the only film in Québec to be banned by a tribunal. The soundtrack, recorded in Montreal in 1970, has always has an aura of mystery around it. Who was the phenomenal band that recorded the holy grail of Québec funk?
Fast-forward 40 years and the mystery has finally been solved by a guy from Rouyn. Félix B. Desfossé and his label, Pluton Records, revealed in 2010 that the genius that composed and performed these incredibly groovy tracks was John Ranger and his larger than life funk band Illustration. If you like this track, head over to Bandcamp to buy the whole soundtrack. (Semi-side note: you might see Félix DJing in the prospector’s tent this Friday and Saturday night.)
« Après Ski has some of the catchiest grooves we’ve heard from a sexy soundtrack of the era…» — Dustygroove.com
15. Our Retired Explorer – Weakerthans
In this classic Weakerthans track, we learn that a penguin taught French to John K Samson in Antarctica.
16. Snow Falls in November – Julie Doiron
Julie is probably my favourite Canadian singer-songwriter. Her songs are the biggest most comfortable sweaters in this hemisphere.
“We don’t go nowhere
Let the baby sleep
Let the dogs rest too”
17. En plein hiver – CANO
Like a snowball in the face, this bomb hurts a little but is oh-so refreshing. This epic folk-prog piece by CANO, franco-ontarian hippie super-group from Sudbury, delivers one of the most epic and bittersweet winter songs ever written.
Well there we have it! Download the Raque Tique Tow Tow mixed tape here and make sure to comment with all the winter songs that I ignored/tried really really hard to forget.
Drive safe and we’ll see you on Thursday!