Tourne la page !


tourne la page

June 24 is Quebec’s national holiday – Saint Jean Baptiste Day. Like a lot of other national holidays, it’s a time for fireworks, parades, alcohol and…franco-rock.

At my job, we listened to trance music and lounge on that day,  like we always do. It keeps the customers calm as they reach for their wallets. But the staff is pretty well 100 percent Quebecois, so we ended up talking about Quebec music, and which songs and artists we like.

For me, what really stands out in the world of franco-pop and franco-rock are the silly commercial ballads that are fed to empty-headed look-alike pop stars. Shotgun marriages between vapid, small-scale celebs and superficial, lowest common denominator pop craft says more about consumer society and the texts that spawned it than any sincere and whiny folk song about whales and women named Suzanne.

One of my favorite mind-worm songs from franco-AM radio is the soundtrack – a last-gasp of celebrity backwash from the brother-sister team of Nathalie and Rene Simard.

Let’s ignore the sexual abuse from Nathalie’s manager (a star’s gotta do), as well as brother Rene’s post-boyband media whoredom, and take a quick glance at the lyrics’ subtexts and the hidden meanings that can be discovered using only a microscope, an atom-smasher, and a bit of imagination.

First the title: Tourne la page. This is a French expression that means, literally: turn the page. But its connotative meaning is more like: move on, or carry on, or even keep moving. This refrain, like the refrains of so many other pop songs from this era and every other era, urges the listener to continue on his trajectory no matter what the consequences. It is manifesto for zombiehood.

While this may at first seem encouraging and empowering, it is more accurately the voice of an industrial Leviathon telling workers to continue on their suicidal and life-denying course no matter what their instincts say. Just keep on working – turn the page – nobody’s gonna break-a my stride – I will survive – carry on our wayward son… etc. However it’s phrased for whatever market, it always boils down to Back to your cubicle, you survivor you.

I’m sure the foremen on Egyptian pyramid-building teams had similarly encouraging words for their worker bees as well. “What happened? Your foot got crushed by that massive brick? Just turn the page!”

So it was a slave-creating text the Simards delivered to the Quebec people. And they belted out this soul-stifling message in their naturally-occurring angelic voices just so they could stay rich and famous for five more minutes.

The only interesting thing about their horrible lyrics is how they discreetly underline the relationship between slavery and text. For the Tourne la page narrative to work, the listener has to imagine that personal experience is no more valuable than a book with pages that can be quickly turned and forgotten whenever you don’t like the content. Of course, we all know that life is more serious and more complicated than a page of a novel (even novels are more complicated than Tourne la page makes them sound), but the Simard’s have ingeniously interpreted this parasitic relationship of text-preying-on-reality as a kitschy, throw-away pop song. They have spoken the unspeakable by disguising it as trite, disposable garbage. Landfill memes for better social health.

And for this reason – on the day immediately after this very important day – we thank this incestuous singing duet for their hollow and stupid words. Merci, les mercenaires!

Tourne la page

(René:) Un oiseau d’acier raie l’horizon de la plage
Griffe les nuages avion sauvage
Il trace à la craie la dernière ligne de l’histoire
Sur tableau noir comme au revoir

(Nathalie:) Un avion déchire le soir
(René:) Emporte quelque chose de moi
(Nathalie:) Un signal dans ta mémoire

Tourne la page…
(René et Nathalie:) Tourne la page

rest of lyrics


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