I attended the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame gala last night and, boy, what an evening. The songwriter's songwriter Leonard Cohen was being inducted, as was Gilles Vigneault, who wrote the Quebecois anthems Mon Pays and Gens du Pays and a million others.
I really loved what Vigneault said -- in English! --to accept his honour. Here's what I copied down in my notes:
Now, with your indulgent permission, I'd like to say some words in English... [A]s I just said in French, a song is a small bridge between the banks of a river, between two people or two cultures. The bridge never denies the existence of the river. If the river overflows, no one will blame the bridge, and when the floodwater has receded, the bridge remains.Such a rich bit of poetry. Songs literally have "bridges", musical interludes between verse and chorus, so the word has an automatic musical meaning. But I had never thought of seduction or a lullaby as a bridge -- but, of course, they are, between lovers and between awakeness and sleep.
The song, for me, is most useful when it inspires someone to plant a tree, when it becomes a subtle device of seduction or when it becomes a lullaby; these are all little bridges. Thank you very much to all.
If you have the time, you should listen to the broadcast of the show on CBC Radio Two tonight (8 to 10 p.m.) or watch it on CBC Television on March 6. At the very least, tune in for k.d. lang's show-closing interpretation Hallelujah, which was the most beautiful version I have ever heard -- yes, that includes the Jeff Buckley, John Cale and Rufus Wainwright version. We were all in tears, not least of all Leonard Cohen.