Claude Gauthier: the critical eye of the unbreakable poet

Claude Gauthier: l'œil critique de l’increvable poète

Still in love with Quebec, but disappointed the way it has treated its old and worried about what awaits the young, Claude Gauthier goes back to the front lines in the songs. “I’m going to write up on my death-bed,” says the tireless poet of 81 years.

In the example of many artists of his generation, Claude Gauthier continues to observe the world with a critical eye, and his observations furnish a good portion of the songs from his new album children of the future.

Example : on the piece that gives the album its title, it speaks of the heroine of the battle against climate change, Greta Thunberg, to basically tell him that it may be the wrong road.

“Greta, sings Mr. Gauthier, what worries me, this is not the planet, but it is the sick society, humanity.”

In interview to the Newspaper, the musician, troubadour adds, still speaking to the teenager’s Swedish : “what would be the point of putting all of our energy to make a planet green and healthy in order to accommodate patients of all species, of dying? I don’t understand this”, he launches himself, by journalist intervened, even if the chances of that Greta read these lines or hear the song are slim.

It remains that young people – “the guardians of this planet that has a headache”, he said, occupy an important place on this album. The last of the fourteen songs in the program is entitled, moreover, Spring maple , and is a sort of homage to the student protests of 2012.

“I was very moved by this situation. The name spring maple, I thought it was a stroke of genius. And all of these young people took to the streets…”

“There has been neglect…”

If the fate of young people cares about, the one reserved for the elderly, victims of massive and helpless of the COVID-19 in NURSING homes, the capsized. The disappoints.

See all the days of dozens of seniors die, most without even their relatives can say a final goodbye, the exceed.

“To learn all this was a punch in the mouth. How is it that you arrived there in Quebec? There has been neglect somewhere, there has been a contempt, misunderstandings.”

Don’t go on the rallying cry “It’s going to go well”. Very little to him, these impulses of positivism.

He swears, moreover, that the presence on the cover of his album by a gaggle of children dressed in the colours of the rainbow is not the result of chance.

“I am against this sentence that I find negative, childish. It makes you release the guard. It is not true that it will go well, but we will all work together to get out of it. That’s the truth. But it is not true that it will go well. The proof is that it is going very wrong, and it is not finished.”

“Even Gilles Vigneault, goes-t-he, soaked in the bath with a redesign of the People of the country that ends with “I hear you play I hear you sing and it’s going to go well”. I don’t understand why Gilles fell in this panel. We don’t unpack a masterpiece of a song like this.”

Quebec, I love you

Surprised by the crisis, Claude Gauthier was not able to finish off the drive he had in mind. In lack of compositions, he has rummaged in its drawers, which were home to a few parts in dormancy.

It was there that he was found Quebec, I love you, a love letter to his homeland that he had composed for the album, 50 years later, published in 2012.

“I found that it does not fit with this disk. This was not the right color. I decided to wait for a day where there would be a national emergency, or whatever.”

Emergency there was, this spring.

“I saw everyone with his guitar to songs on the corner of the table about the pandemic, and it was not too, too good. I said to myself : my God, I have a song I wrote ten years ago. If I said to the people of Quebec that we are one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and that alone, but all together, it will recover from this story ? I sent to the people of Musicor and they have bitten into the apple with gusto.”

► The album children of tomorrow is on the market since may 15.


Claude Gauthier, in a few lines

  • Born January 31, 1939 in Lac-Saguay, Quebec.
  • He is married to Suzanne Leonard for 57 years, is the father of two children and grandfather of a little boy.
  • It was one of the first chansonniers, after Félix Leclerc, to save a drive in Quebec, and it is accompanied in rooms legendary as Carnegie Hall in New York and the Olympia in Paris.
  • He has in his repertoire of the classics of the quebec song Marie-Christmas and The most beautiful journey.
  • The sculptor Roger Langevin has immortalized his song The big six-foot, that you can see in Lac-Saguay.
  • Actor in tv Seventh-north, Guestrooms in the city, the Bombardier, The big trials and Networks.
  • Since 1967, he has played in 25 films.
  • He has written songs for Monique Leyrac, Louise Forestier, Renée Claude and Pauline Julien.
  • Winner of the prix Hommage Quebecor of the song by 2017.
  • Children of tomorrow is the 19th album of his career.

The memories of It-Bull

The interview would focus on his new album, but very soon, after having told her that he lived his confinement in the woods with the deer, Lac-du-Cerf (near Mont-Laurier), Claude Gauthier felt the need to redo the presentations.

At his age, the man who created the success Mary-Christmas with his friend, Robert Charlebois, still has the humility to believe that his interlocutor is unaware of all of it.

“So, Mr. Gauthier, do you still do music?”, scale-t-on, history to start the discussion.

“This is my life, I started very young to do this job. In 1959, you were not old, old…,” he replied elegantly.

Then, without warning, here at the heart of a nomenclature of his feats of arms, as if he was reciting his Wikipedia page.

Far from being boring or trivial, the exercise is rather informative and above all fun.

“I had a few strings to my bow. I was able to make a bit of cinema, working in series tv,” he says, remembering in particular a role in the tv series Seventh north, with Monique Miller and Jacques Godin, in the 1960s.

The game, for the difficult times

Imagine, he played in The Orders, a classic among the classics of québec cinema. The kind of things that people don’t always know about it, noted Mr. Gauthier.

“I’ve done several films with Michel Brault with Geneviève Bujold in its infancy. It kept me in the trade, if I can allow myself to say the word with the big M, because when you do you see more on tv, we think you’re dead.”

“When I had difficult times in the song,” he continues, ” I always had something on that side.”

In mulling over his memories, he leaves to the passage to escape the nickname that follows him since the night of times : Ti-Bull.

He laughs when we ask him for explanations about its origin.

“I had the air of a small boxer not aggressive on the scene. It was Robert Charlebois who had me baptized Ti-Bull. B-U-L-L. A small bull. Every time he calls me, he asks : “So, Ti-Bull, how’s it going?”. It is indelible, indelible,” having fun Mr. Gauthier.

A reaction that has no price

Jumping from the rooster to the donkey, he touted the times that Charlebois had been invited to sing for sick children.

Charlebois calls, Gauthier picks up the phone.

“It’s a trick to Sainte-Justine, I think. It does not pay, but we will sing Mary Christmas, “explains the former to the latter.

Claude Gauthier did not pray. “I said : wait for me, I’m coming. Robert went to the piano, began to sing Mary Christmas, Mary Christmas , and we could hear the children knew the song and sang with us. It was magical. It is more than just a pay cheque. It has no price.”

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