French rock ‘n’ roll.

It all began when my father was transferred to Montreal on assignment for 6 months. My mother went there with him, leaving my sister and me in charge of the family household. Occasionally my mother would return home for brief visits to check on us and to bring back souvenirs from Montreal. On her first visit home she brought me a music CD by Jacques Offenbach, an album entitled Les Incontournables: Rock de v’lours. When I heard it, I was enthralled. This wasn’t just rock music, it was rock music with lyrics sung in French. I’d never heard anything like it before.

After my father returned home after his assignment had ended, he took the whole family to Montreal, and it was here I finally got to see the city he had fallen in love with. There was so much to do here but the one thing I wanted to do most was go to a record store and get some more French music CD’s. And I got my chance to do just that.

This was probably the most adventuresome I’ve ever been when buying music CD’s. I walked into HMV and would pick out some CD’s from artists I never heard of. I bought the hard-rocking Invitez Les Vautours from Eric Lapointe and the mellower Quatre saisons dans le désordre from Daniel Bélanger. I also picked up a copy of the trip-hop masterpiece Maverick A Strike from Finley Quaye after seeing it on display at one of the Second Cup coffee shops we frequented. Finally, I found the soundtrack album to the famed music film Woodstock. (Yeah, I know, it’s not exactly French music but an album I’ve been trying to find for years.)

I didn’t listen to my newly acquired CD’s until I got home from Montreal, and needless to say, I absolutely enjoyed them all.

Several years later we made a return trip to Montreal, where I had another chance to add to my collection of French music. Taking place downtown was the annual FrancoFolies music festival featuring performers from all over the world, including the United States. I was pleasantly surprised to see a CD containing highlights from this festival at HMV, so I bought a copy, of course.

I also bought a copy of Chroniques De Mars, perhaps the single most interesting CD in my French music collection. It’s a hip-hop album featuring various artists rapping in French. It’s quite a departure from the usual hip-hop I’ve grown accustomed to. This album caught my eye when I was passing a shelf displaying the top-selling albums at HMV, and Chroniques De Mars was the biggest-selling album at the time. It’s good stuff even though I can’t understand the words.

I also picked En Famille from Mes Aïeux, which is another delightful album I enjoy hearing again and again. It’s nice mellow rock music that’s fun to listen to. Finally I got Les Filles À Canon from Jean Leloup, which is a live concert album with some very lively performances. Once again I picked the albums without any clue as to who the artists were but when I heard them after I got home, I enjoyed them immensely.

A few years ago my parents returned to Montreal for one more visit. They knew how much I enjoyed hearing French music and bought me back a CD by Les Cowboys Fringants entitled La Grand-Messe. Needless to say, I absolutely enjoyed it. Another fine sampling of the thriving French music scene with some mellow but very lively music.

I still listen to my French music CD’s from time to time to bring back memories of my wonderful trips to Montreal. I can’t wait to go there again.

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