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Do you have any songs that you listen to when you’re feeling down? My best friend tells me that he listens to Billie Holiday. So many times, I’ve been told that I have bad taste, I’ve almost come to embrace it as part of my sense of self. Well, not bad taste. Everyone thinks that their own taste is wonderful, but I’m perfectly happy to have a little chip on my shoulder on the subject of taste. You call it bad taste; I call it my taste.

When I’m feeling crummy, there’s a song that always makes me feel better. I love this song, and the fact that I love it totally appalls many people. In fact, quite a few people have told me that it shows that I have bad taste. It’s “Frankenstein” by the New York Dolls. So many times, I’ve been told that this is just an awful song, but I really, really like it for some reason. Yes, I know that it’s totally overblown and over the top, a bombastic mess, and that’s a large part of why I like it. I like it even when I’m feeling good, but when I’m feeling rejected for being a freak or not fitting in, it makes me feel better for some reason. Admittedly, it’s not exactly, “uplifting,” but when you’re feeling marginalized, what other people find uplifting doesn’t always help.

Well, I’m asking you as a person
Is it a crime
Is it a crime
For you to fall in love with Frankenstein?
And is it wrong
Could it be wrong
Is it wrong just to want a friend?

I think it’s easy to see why someone who feels constantly out of place might like this song.

So now you’re telling me
That any time you could just go home
Well, this place here, you know it is my home
So where am I gonna go?

Hmm. Not feeling better yet. I might have to play it again twice as loud.

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It was the end of  this past December. A friend had invited me to a “First Night Celebration” in New Hampshire. At first, I was eager to go. I had no plans for New Years Eve and I was happy to be invited anyplace at all. I tried to push down the fact that I was ideologically opposed to the concept of “First Night.” I am a firm believer in the importance of the Dionysian impulse as an integral part of the human experience, and there are few opportunities we have for fully exploring those impulses. The trend away from “New Year’s Eve” celebrations to “First Night” celebrations strikes me as a puritanism as misguided as Prohibition. The only reason I considered it at all was the source of the invitation. I hadn’t seen my friend in a while, someone I’d known since I was sixteen.

Meanwhile, some exchanges on the internet put me in mind of a band I hadn’t thought of in a long time. I typed the name into a search engine and came up with a list of videos. One was of a song I once knew but hadn’t heard in a long time. The video that’s online for the song “40 Shades of Blue” has footage of the East Village as I remember it when I first started spending much of my time there at the age of eighteen or nineteen and into my late twenties. The video opens with a shot of the Bowery Mission, only a few blocks away from where my boyfriend grew up in the housing projects on Pitt Street. His bedroom window faced north and from there we could see a line of buildings along Second Street that were nothing more than shells. My boyfriend told me about how one summer in the seventies he felt that he watch building after building going up in flames, usually a result of arson. That big bad New York of the past wasn’t in the past yet. Crime was still at an all time high. Those shells of tenements feature prominently in the video and I recognized many of the other locations. I even remembered some of the graffiti. I started feeling, not only nostalgic, but homesick.

Part of the East Village was a Ukrainian neighborhood and Luscious’ parents were living in a building on Tompkins Square Park when she was born. By the time I knew her, her mother had died and her father was long since living out on Long Island and she lived in Chelsea. Sometimes we’d end a night of bar hopping at Veselka Coffee Shop, or another place whose name I’m forgetting, and argue about the right way to make pierogi. She was, as I mentioned before, a rock and roll obsessive. She would phone me dramatically declaring that there was some band we “had” to go see. She was tall, beautiful and flamboyant and I felt it was almost a privilege to be her little sidekick. I was very aware that without her I would not be half so aware of what was going on.

So one day she called me and the band we “had” to go see was named Black 47 and they were playing at some bar I’d never heard of with an Irish sounding name. She knew it, she said. Of course, she knew every place. When we walked into the place we were early, which was unusual for us, and it was crowded. An older man in his mid-thirties, looking like he had taken off his jacket and tie before leaving the office so he wouldn’t stand out too much, asked Luscious if he could buy her a beer. She smiled slowly and broadly. “I’ll allow you to buy me a drink only if you buy my friend here a drink,” she said gesturing to her faithful sidekick. She took the beers from his hands, passed one to me, and promptly turned her back on him. She was a bitch and I loved her for it. She spun me around and pushed me toward the stage.

Black 47 was based in New York and played pretty much all the time. We went to see them a few more times. A few years later I moved out of New York. Eventually, I drifted back, but by then I had no idea what had become of Luscious. The friends I was still in touch with didn’t go out that much anymore. Some of them did things like jogging on New Years Eve. As everybody knows by now, a few years ago I left New York yet again, pushed out by rising rents and stagnating income.

As I’ve been writing down my memories, one challenge has been to figure out when certain events happened. Usually there’s a clue that places it in a window of time. Sometimes larger, sometimes smaller. I probably would have put that night with Luscious down a couple of years too early. But I poked around the internet some more and I found out the, much to my surprise, Black 47 is still around but they’re planning on disbanding on the 25th anniversary of their first performance. I also saw that they were playing on New Years Eve. I thought to myself, “What the fuck,” and bought a train ticket to New York.

At the last minute, I began to wonder if it wasn’t a dumb idea. Perhaps they wouldn’t be as good as I remembered and I’d feel let down. I needn’t have worried. I don’t have the knowledge to make this a review of the show. They have a hell of a lot of energy for guys their age… um… I mean my age. They have a lot of time under their belts playing live and it shows. There’s nothing on earth that I enjoy more than a live band in a small place, except the obvious. It felt good to be back in New York.

So, apparently they’ll be around until November of this year. They’re really good live. If you’re in New York you should consider seeking them out.

Now that I’m back home, I’m back to pounding away on the keyboard. I’ve only had it for a little over a year now. I had piano lessons as a kid, but I stopped playing when I went to college, so I pretty much didn’t play for over twenty years. I was never very advanced in the first place and I never learned how to play rock and roll piano. It’s an entirely different beast from what I learned. I’m trying very hard to not sound like the Culps, the music teachers from Saturday Night Live, so I’ve been listening a lot. I’ve especially been listening to rock and roll from the fifties and early sixties and I came across some YouTube videos of someone I once knew.

Years ago, at one of the many lousy jobs I had after I dropped out of college, I worked with Brenda Reid of the Exciters who had a hit record back in the early sixties. I’m afraid I don’t have any interesting stories. She’s just a really sweet, nice person I once knew. So, if you don’t remember the Exciters, here a some links to a couple of songs they recorded:

Tell Him

Do-Wah-Diddy

Used to be that I could stand through hearing five or six bands on both Friday and Saturday night. Also used to be that I was twenty-three years old. Here I am, laid up, nursing sore ankles after standing through one set – and we’re not talking a Bruce Springsteen three and a half or four hour set either.

I gave Stone a “wish you were here” phone call last night. International minutes are expensive and I hung up still feeling antsy and agitated, and wanting to talk to someone, anyone. It was mixed-up, ambivalent, happy-yet-angry sort of agitation. I thought about heading out to a bar just so as not to be alone, but my ankles were telling me that that would be an unwise decision. So I sent my apparently no-longer-friend, who still hasn’t written, an email that said “fuck you” several times in between less sweet sentiments that I hope were not entirely incoherent. Maybe staying in was an unwise decision.

I’d never been to the Parc de la Villette. In grad school I had an acquaintance who was a big Bernard Tschumi fan, and it’s been on my list of places to see for years. Somehow, I never quite got out that way. I still can’t really say that I’ve seen it, since I’ve still only seen a very small part of it. If Paris was a big clock face, located out near half past one, there’d be the Cité de la Musique. Like the other things I saw in the park it had the feel of a big government project, sterile, hulking, inhuman in scale, and simply boring. The entrance is wedged into one of Tschumi’s follies like one oppressively bureaucratic idea trying to accommodate another. The only thing I could say it made me feel was an intense desire to shoot the leviathan and put it out of its misery.

After walking past a sleekly boring cafe, I saw some figures on the wall of the building that reminded me of the shadow figures I used to see painted on walls in New York in the eighties. A boyfriend who’d grown up in a project on the Lower East Side first pointed them out to me. We used to tell each other when we’d spotted one so the other could go look at it. Getting closer to these figures, they looked to me as if they’d been printed out on paper and pasted to the wall. Four of them. The fact that it looked like graffiti or street art seemed appropriate. I want to say they were images of the members of The Clash, but I’ve got a confession to make, I wouldn’t recognize most celebrities if I fell over them. I don’t know, and I don’t really care, about the personal lives of my favorite writers or musicians. Half the time I don’t even know if they’re alive or dead. I care about the work, not the person. Is that unkind of me?

“Europunk,” the name of the exhibit, let’s face it, is a misnomer. Ninety percent of the shit’s English. No denying that. Appropriately, the first thing to greet you at the entrance of the exhibition itself is an image of the Union Jack with a picture of the Queen on top. Yeah, you know the image. It’s the one with her eyes and mouth covered with letters that spell out “God Save the Queen” and “The Sex Pistols.” I can’t deny that I smiled despite the frame and the glass and the little museum description near the corner.

Punk was before my time, and mostly it took place across the ocean anyway, so I can’t say that this dredged up any feelings of nostalgia. The main feeling was one of gratitude. I think I was lucky to come of age in the era immediately following its heyday. Everyone else seemed to be staring in the glass cases ever so seriously. Was I wrong to think a lot of this outrageous stuff was funny? Maybe I had been too young to know better, but this stuff had never shocked me. The cases in the center of the room displayed clothing by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, like some sort of ancient pottery. This was, after all, a museum. Strangely, the words of a song I happen to really hate entered my mind, “I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac. A little voice inside my head said, ‘Don’t look back. You can never look back.'” Well, I still don’t like that song, but I’ve got to say that I think I now know what the writer was feeling when he wrote those words. I started feeling happy, amused and a little bit ill, all at the same time.

A drawing of a tower of televisions with people standing around them wearing headphones.

There was a t.v. playing a recording of the New York Dolls playing “Jet Boy.” I remember as a teenager always feeling cheated because I couldn’t listen to music because most of it took place in bars and I was too young to go to bars. Oh, I was so angry about that. So, when one of my sister’s friends asked if we wanted to go hear a band that was playing at a nearby college, I jumped at the chance. I had heard of these Ramones, but hadn’t actually heard them, so I had no idea if I liked them or not, but school venue = no booze = no age limit so I was going. I wish I could place my age at the time. I can’t, but my sister eventually had a falling out with that friend, so I must have been pretty young. The Ramones, as it happens, totally sucked. Despite being a sheltered little girl who had never so much as tasted beer and was clueless as to what marijuana smelled like, I had a pretty good idea that these guys were so stoned they seemed to have trouble standing up. It was as if each one was playing in his own little bubble and they only happened to be on the same stage. Yet the evening was not a total waste. If the headlining band was a disappointment, I was entirely taken by the opening act. Still, to this day, it might be the best performance I’ve ever seen. I kept his name in the back of my mind for years trying to find out who he was. David Johansen. If the internet had existed back then, I would have known about the Dolls before going to bed that night. In retrospect, this was probably my musical awakening, and for years I wouldn’t know who this guy was.

My dislike for the Ramones has always been a little awkward. They’re from New York and have been among the favorites of many of my friends.

I went to grad school a little bit late and I was almost a decade older than the bright young things who surrounded me. Now, nearly two decades on, it’s hard to see the difference between my age and theirs, but they saw that difference and never tired of rubbing my face in it, that and our class differences. They liked to call me a “punk” and said the word with a kind of disdain, like they were picking a piece of litter up off the street. They pointed to a pile of cassettes I kept beside my desk.

“You listen to The Clash.”

“Everyone listens to The Clash. Fuck, man, they had hit records.”

“Fuck, maaaan.” Someone repeated, giggling at my passé lingo.

“So who are these people?” someone else said, picking up a cassette of the New York Dolls.

I tried explaining why I said that I’d never been a punk. Finally, it occurred to me that it was a lot like when my bio-mom explained to me that she was a freak not a hippie. It was a nicety that I didn’t really care about. I nodded at the time, but I still describe her to people my age as a hippie. However, if you’re a certain age, she considered herself a freak. Me, I’m a wuss. I like hot and cold running water far too much to live in a squat. I was never a part of all that. I just happened to like some of the music.

On one wall was a poster, and I smiled again at something familiar. “This is a chord. This is another. This is a third. Now form a band.” It reminded me of one of the reasons I feel gratitude towards punk. People sometimes describe it as a DIY ethos, but it seems slightly deeper than that to me. Somehow, I felt that if you didn’t like the culture you could make your own. You don’t like your culture? Then what the fuck are you going to do about it? But it also drove home why I was feeling angst. It’s not “here are three chords, now play in your room.” It’s “now form a band.” Culture isn’t something that happens in isolation. It happens among people, and these days I’ve been feeling very alone.

At the end of the exhibition they had computers with a library of songs on them. I sat down and started listening to bands I’d never heard. It was almost closing time for the museum. It was disappointing because this was one of the most informative parts of the exhibition for me. If I had known, I would have started there.

As I left the museum, I saw people taking photos of one another standing next to the life-size images of famous bands that I had seen on the way in. Suddenly, I didn’t like them anymore.

As I was having a quick dinner at a brasserie across the street, I couldn’t help mulling over the differences between then and now. Of course, there had been plenty of photos from the era in the exhibit. I toyed with the idea of doing a cartoon showing two women, one showing how women actually looked in 1978 and another showing a woman in a “punk” Halloween costume in 2013. The contemporary interpretation would have a young woman in high, high heels with a touch of fetish styling, fishnet stockings, a super short plaid miniskirt and a black leather jacket, all looking far too cute and sex-kittenish to ever have been worn 1978. As I headed back to the concert hall, a young woman less than half my age walked by me wearing almost that exact outfit. The only difference was opaque black stockings instead of fishnets. I had to stifle the impulse to laugh. She wasn’t the only young person who appeared to be in costume.

I began thinking, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all, not that I thought it was a bad idea, but I found myself bracing for disappointment. Perhaps it was the context, but I didn’t like the sense that people were coming to see John Lydon as part of a museum exhibit, which in fact it was. Fortunately, I am not a reviewer, I wanted to have a good time and I did. However, I left with a huge number of mixed up emotions.

On the way home, I walked the streets feeling like a ghost.

The revolution will not be televised. It will be put behind glass and tucked safely away in a museum.

I have, somewhat oddly for me, been playing a lot of music. It’s not that I never play music, I just don’t usually do it this much. It’s funny, because I don’t pretend to be in the least bit good at it.

My mother came from a very musical family. Her grandfather was a cabinet-maker and violin maker. Her uncle inherited the business and he also played in the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. My sister and I were given lessons in piano and violin as a matter of course. Although I wasn’t exactly talentless as a musician, I did not stand out in any way. I dropped the violin, but continued to play the piano until I went away to college. Ever since college, I have regretted not sticking with the violin for no other reason than it is more portable than a piano. Essentially, ever after leaving my parents house, I didn’t play any music for over thirty years.

About a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with depression. It probably had been creeping up on me for a year or two. I hit a very low point during the spring before last. When I started to feel better, I went and bought myself a keyboard. I’d been wanting one for decades, however, I felt like I wasn’t good enough to deserve one. It’s the sort of self-denial that helped drive me into a depression in the first place.

When I first started to seek help for my depression, many therapists responded with suggestions like I go to the gym or throw myself into work. I felt so frustrated hearing these kinds of suggestions because I felt that it was exactly that sort of puritanical running on the treadmill, both literally and figuratively, that had gotten me into that state in the first place.

Buying the keyboard was a much mentally healthier thing for me to do than exercise or work. The funny thing is because I am not very good it brings out the fact that I’m only doing it for myself. I’m not trying to please anyone or achieve anything. I just do it because it’s fun.

Ever since I bought it, I play a little bit all the time, but sometimes I go on binges. I’ve been on one of those binges, playing constantly, for the past couple of weeks. I suspect my neighbors, if they knew, would be relieved that I bought an electric keyboard instead of an acoustic piano.

I’m calling this a recommendation rather than a review, because that’s exactly what it is. Not being a film buff, I was unaware of the existence of this film until I saw it mentioned on someone’s blog on Thursday. I’d give a hat tip, but I can’t find where I saw it.

The film is called Twenty Feet from Stardom, and it’s a documentary about unsung singers. The women in this movie are among the best in the business. You may not know their names, but you probably know their voices. This movie is a fabulous corrective to a history which has often overlooked these talented musicians.

When I saw the film mentioned in the blog post and I looked at the date and realized that the post was already a month old, I hurried out to see it. Luckily, it was playing at my neighborhood theater. There’s not much else to say. Watch the trailer. If you like the trailer, you’ll probably like the movie. I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

I know where I need to go, but I’m not sure how to get there, so I’m going to sit down with a glass of wine and try to set the stage for some complicated social problems that would occur in just a few short months.

If you had asked me back when I was fourteen if I liked music, I may very well have said, “No.” I can vaguely remember liking music as a child and I would learn to like it again in college, but my high school years were something of a musical wasteland. Furthermore, music wasn’t about music for my peers. It was a complicated declaration of social alignments and identification. We had entered the years of “Disco Sucks.”

Like a lot of middle-aged people, I’ve become a little out of touch with the current trends in music and totally out of touch with any social scenes that are attached to them. Still, when I glance around me, I don’t see anything that is accompanied by the vitriol that accompanied the rise and fall of disco. Our white ethnic, lower-middle-class town was the territory of “rock.” Not rock-n-roll, and most certainly not r-n-b. Rock, white boy music in active denial of its origins. A beat that was even vaguely danceable was banned. Despite the girl I’d met over the summer, punk was something happening in another country and I wouldn’t see hide nor hair of it again for another couple of years. It’s only in retrospect that I can look back and see how narrow my exposure to popular music was. Journey, Boston, Rush, Foreigner, Kansas. These bands still leave me cold today. Yes, Genesis, ELP, Jethro Tull. Musical choices were highly limited. I liked my father’s old swing records more.

This particular teenage subculture went with a style, and I have to say it was far more gender neutral that it is easy to imagine in our current climate of exaggerated gender differentiation in fashion. A pair of jeans, a waffle weave “thermal shirt” with an unbuttoned plaid flannel shirt over it, a pair of sneakers or work boots. It was virtually a uniform.

My new friend S had friends of her own, three girls who dressed in exactly this manner. It’s tempting to refer to them as tough girls, but how tough can you be at thirteen? Two of them had boyfriends who lived in the next town over. The boys would ride over on their bicycles, we’d sit around M’s living room and play records and just “hang out.”

One day, shortly after the boys had gone, M looked out the window after them. “Okay, they’re gone. Let’s go to my room.” In M’s bedroom, we stood around while she bent down and reached under the bed. She pulled out Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall like it was a secret vice. And here I was worried that it was going to be marijuana.

S’s secret vice was Bruce Springsteen. Bruce occupied a neutral zone in the battle between pop music and hard rock. He was most certainly a working class white kid from New Jersey, and that was a plus. However, he wasn’t hard rock. Somehow, he was regarded as just a bit lowbrow compared to the overblown art rock that held the most respect among the teenagers in our town. My sister was another devotee of the Boss and we had in our basement all the records he had recorded up until that time. S and I would go down to the basement. Her favorite was Greetings from Asbury Park. She’d sing along and dance around, acting out the stories. I can still see her now, miming flipping her collar up as she sang, “I could walk like Brando right into the sun,” then she’d take a step forward jutting out her bony preadolescent hip. “And dance just like a Casanova.” We were on opposite sides of that divide. If I had a body that looked like a young woman’s, S still looked like a child. She bemoaned many times that she hadn’t yet started to menstruate. “Really, don’t be in a hurry,” I’d tell her. “It’s kind of a drag, if you want to know.”

S’s parents were immigrants from China and by far the most strict. They liked me. I got good grades and if S said she was with me, they would let her stay out longer than they would if she was with anyone else. My parents were teachers and telling her own parents that mine said it was okay worked like magic to get approval for almost any outing. However, S’s parents didn’t approve of the other girls quite as much and more and more I found myself hanging out with M, SY, P and those boys from the next town over.

A view of the St. Lawrence River looking south from Quebec City with the river partly frozen and snow on the ground.1994 – 1996

My French teachers may have taught me grammar and some basic vocabulary, but it was Dédé Fortin who taught me how to feel things in French. I don’t pretend to be a good language learner. If I’m inordinately proud of my modest abilities in French, it’s because it was such a huge effort for me to learn. Basic grammar came easily enough and my memory is good for vocabulary. I arrived in Quebec with these rudimentary skills. However, fluency eluded me. I could read a newspaper, but couldn’t hold a conversation. I could watch the t.v. news but not a sitcom. All those one to three word half sentences that make up a large portion of social interaction were like a verbal equivalent of shorthand, and were as indecipherable to me as shorthand is to someone who has not learned it. Quickly spoken sentences in which sounds, and sometimes entire words, were dropped were a total mystery. On top of that there were the occasional differences in pronunciation and vocabulary between Quebec French and French French. These differences are often exaggerated by snobby Francophiles, but they do exist and can add to the puzzle.

Beyond that, however, was another aspect. Words in French didn’t go to my heart. Certain turns of phrase have extra power, or musicality, or beauty. I couldn’t recognize that in French. The words had only their literal meaning with no resonance. It was like a world without color.

Going backwards a couple of years to the time before I even thought I might be moving to Canada, I drove there with a friend who was attending a physics conference at Laval University in Ste Foy, near Quebec City. Shortly after crossing the border, my friend turned to me and said, “Hey, I bet we can get a radio station in French.” A bit of fiddling with the dial and we had a pop music station playing songs in both French and English. A song came on that had lyrics that were spoken rather than sung. Of course we couldn’t understand the lyrics. Then, there was a break, a fiddle and some stomping that sounded like clogging. I looked at her and she at me. Interesting.

Later, in Quebec City, I walked into a record store and tried to describe the song. They looked at me a little funny. I asked other people including this long-haired guy that tried to pick me up while I was sitting on a park bench. No luck.

About two years later, I was married to that long-haired guy and had recently moved to Canada. On Saint Jean-Baptiste day, the Quebec national holiday, we went to the park where they had bonfires and music that went late into the night.

The next day on the news, they showed video clips from festivals around the province. Suddenly, “Hey! It’s them! It’s them!” I grabbed my husband. “Who are they? That’s the band I keep asking everyone about.”

“Huh? Them? That’s les Colocs.” He went over to his small but neatly organized stack of cassette tapes. He handed one to me. “You can keep it. I’ve only listened to it a couple of times. I don’t really like it.”

Yippee! Yippee! Yippee! Les Colocs! For the next month I listened to it obsessively every time I was alone in the apartment. I learned all the words to all the songs. I started trying to find other French Canadian music that I liked. I also began to discover a dark side the man I married. It was just a small sign at this time. He made fun of me for my taste in music. “Why do you want to listen to that stuff? You do realize that we mostly listen to American music. They only play that stuff on the radio because of the language laws.”

Despite his discouragement, I began to track down other French Canadian musicians I heard on the radio. Once, when my husband was away at an academic conference, I went to a nightclub in the old part of town to see les Respectables. One of the band members made several pretty good attempts to chat me up. Ah, but I was a newlywed and still in love… silly me. He really began to rib me when I started listening to Jean LeLoup. (“Ick, he’s weird.” “Well, that makes two of us.”) It was ironic because while I lived there he would constantly complain that I didn’t like Quebec well enough, but whenever I found something to like there, he’d put a damper on it. Whenever I’d start having fun, he’d dump cold water on me, then complain that I wasn’t cheerful. It was subtle at first. After all, we all tend to argue a bit about musical taste, taste in clothes, movies, books, hobbies. It took a few years before I realized that he disapproved of just about everything I liked, nor could he just shrug and say, “To each his own.” He had to needle and tease.

Finally, I saw a notice somewhere or heard on the radio that les Colocs would be playing in Quebec City. They were playing a place I’d never been to located on a bleak little stretch of Boulevard Charest, if I recall correctly. I wanted to go so badly, I put up a big fuss until the spousal unit agreed. The place was not especially large, but it was packed. Being short, I found a little platform or step up against a wall near the back. I squeezed on it next to a couple of guys a few years younger than I was, sensitive looking types who seemed as excited as I was. Watching the faces of the two next to me, I began to get an idea of which lines worked and which did. I could see the emotions registering transparently on their young faces. Then the first notes of “Juste une p’tite nuite” began. This was a song especially hated by Hubby. It was too “mou.” Soft. Wimpy. The boys to my right both closed their eyes. They mouthed every word along with the singer on stage.

Music, even without the meaning of the lyrics, carries its own emotional content. It was through listening to the songs of French Canadian songwriters, and above all André Fortin, that I learned, not simply to think in French, but to feel in French.