In 25 years of career, Les Cowboys Fringants have built a rich repertoire of more than 150 songs, several of which have practically become essential anthems for a generation of Quebecers. Here is a constellation of a dozen of these pieces representative of the group’s universe.
“At the demonstration / It’s true that we haven’t changed anything.” With the funny, but no less cynical The demonstration, The Cowboys Fringants ironically created a “hit” taken up… in the demonstrations. Real short film in song, published on Union break (2002), it is anchored in an era notably marked by the Summit of the Americas. In a recent interview with Dutyits lyricist Jean-François Pauzé believed that this song had been “transformed into an ironic wink” by the fans.
“If this is modern Quebec, well, I’ll put my flag at half-mast.” This room, which opened Union break, blew on the embers of disillusionment with the future of a poorly managed Quebec without great ambitions. With the filigree of disappointed desires for independence. Musically, it is perhaps the densest and most frenetic – even military – of the repertoire.
On my shoulder
“Put your head on my shoulder / so that my love brushes against you.” The room that closes The Antipodes (2019) which became the anthem of Cowboys fans in honor of Karl Tremblay, who “faced the winter wind”. The song was one of the highlights of the group’s final show in Quebec, on the Plains. Breath of hope with wet eyes.
My boyfriend Rémi
“Heille Rémi, don’t do anything stupid / I love you and you still owe me 50 dollars”. Gentle waltz where the violin and a delicate xylophone shine, My boyfriend Rémi talks about suicide and also the importance of friendship, a frequent theme from the band’s early years. It all happens outside the bars, another recurring world among the Cowboys Fringants.
“We tell ourselves that the good times finally pass / Like a shooting star”. It is perhaps the flagship song of High mass, the consecration album for the group. Carried by the most recognizable accordion line in their catalog, the piece plunges deep into nostalgia – that of Passe-Partout itself – and the effects of life which passes inexorably by.
“In my suburbs, the night is beautiful and there is hope.” The group has often set its stories outside the central neighborhoods, in wealthy suburbs (All houses are the same) or modest. Taken from Motel Capri (2001), this piece full of cultural references and marked by drama makes the emotion explode in the chorus.
“Oh Marcel Galarneau! / How are your old bones in your cell in Bordeaux? » It’s one of the early songs, where singer Karl Tremblay rolls his “R’s”. She surfs on the story – here crazy – of a character, a trick seen very often in the group (Loulou Lapierre, La Catherine, Hector, Maurice au bistro, etc.)
“Every 8 seconds, I feel a little more shame.” The training deploys a little more widely the denunciations of what goes wrong and opens up to famine, water management and war. All to a lively klezmer tune, but in a minor key. She has, among others, brothers and sisters The company guy And Of a sadness.
A little tour
“Come and take a little tour of my apartment, Frette.” The themes of the small misery of those beginning their adult lives and love – that of a night in the hope of a little more – come together. The verses of this piece which ends Motel Capri are carried by a guitar line at the Welcome sun, by Jim and Bertrand. Perhaps the most beautiful of their refined songs.
“I am now the last human on Earth.” Nothing takes the note of man’s impact on the planet even further, with Les Cowboys Fringants imagining here the end of the world caused by climate change. Heatwaves and pandemics were already on the menu in this 2004 song.
“ Anyway I’m glad you’re coming back / you’re arriving at the same time as autumn. It is one of the pieces of the group which has an incredible capacity for communion. The family is at the center of the text and the guitar playing is slow — which has made it one of the most popular campfire pieces.
“I see all of America crying / in my rearview mirror.” This is proof of the strength of Cowboys Fringants: making a hit, perhaps the biggest, after almost 25 years of career. The piece features a truck driver, fully consistent with the group’s not very elitist view of the world. This may be the song that brings them all together.