Claude Léveillée R.I.P.

Posted June 9th, 2011 by Anna

He was one of the great ones. In 1959, Claude L. moved to Paris to write songs with and for Edith Piaf, (Martha did a rocking cover of his ‘Non, la vie n’est pas triste’ on her 2009 Piaf oeuvre.) On his return in 1962, our high-school friend Michèle Forest (and 3rd member of the Trio Canadien) and I went to hear him at l’Estérel in Ste Marguerite where he performed with André Gagnon. They played back-to-back grand pianos and I think maybe Yvon Deschamps was on snare and hi-hat. We were hooked for life. ‘ Je me fous du monde entier quand Frédéric me rappelle les beaux jours de nos vingt-ans’….’Sur un cheval blanc, je t’enmènerai..’ ‘Les vieux pianos’ These songs were played over and over in our house in St Sauveur. Our mother Gaby could never get enough of him, especially after a couple of gins. Au revoir Claude et merci.
Claude L. sings Frederic I think this was our favorite.
Another link to his song ‘Mon pays’ (not Vigneault’s) from 1965. This one made me cry last night. Oh boy.


7 Responses:

  1. Campbell says:

    June 9th, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I echo what the writer said. l’Estérel? wow . hadn’t heard that name in yonks

  2. Claude Verreault says:

    June 12th, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Très beau témoignage! Et si émouvant. Dommage que Jean Charest n’ait pas votre sensibilité…

  3. Rob says:

    August 10th, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Sorry to say this, and I hope it’s not miscontrued as a criticism of the man, whose loss must be real and painful to those who knew and loved him. The link to ‘Mon pays’ does not reveal an artist whose work we need to know better. It’s clearly heavily imitative of Jacques Brel, but nothing of Brel’s genius has rubbed off.

  4. anna says:

    August 10th, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Sorry you don’t like our home-grown boy. I don’t hear the similarities between Leveillee and Brel. Brel is a hard-nosed street poet type and music minimalist, Leveillee a dreamy childlike romantic who played in a flowery Chopin style piano locked in a circle of fifths. Leonard Cohen is a clone of Brel’s for sure. They all wore those skinny late 50s suits and sang in minor keys, so easy to mix-up. I think Jean Ferrat might have been more of an influence on the Quebec singer-songwriters of late 50s and 60s.

  5. Rob says:

    August 12th, 2011 at 5:17 am

    I love Brel – somehow the only crossable bridge between continental Europe and all the American/Canadian/English music I grew up with. Your description of him as “hard nosed street poet” seems pretty right to me, but there’s also wry humour, great sadness and a poignant sense of his mortality in his songs.

    I’m not equipped to know what a “Chopin style piano locked in a circle of fifths” is, so I have to plead ignorance about Claude Leveillee’s musical structures. I’d better do some research on Jean Ferrat – we’re a long away from the roots of civilisation down here in Australia and many things are still unknown to us. (And maybe next time I’ll post BEFORE I’ve had the three glasses of red wine …)

    Anna, if I still have your attention, please find a way to release Kate’s performance of “Proserpina”. No-one ever said a more resonant and moving farewell to this world than Kate did with that song.

  6. tracy says:

    February 16th, 2012 at 1:45 pm


    would you please recommend an album by Claude Leveille for someone wanting to add him to her cd collection. Is “La Collection Emergence” a good compilation to start with?


  7. Philip Montpetit says:

    February 25th, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Oh Boy indeed! But for me its when I listen to songs from you and Kate. And I’ve been doing that for quite some time now!
    The closest I ever got to being able to talk to you guys was sometime in the late seventies at some Highland Games somewhere east of Valleyfield where you had given a performance (at least I think that’s why you were there though I didn’t see it since I had gotten there late). To this day I regret having been too shy to go up to you two and introduce myself when I saw you walking around the grounds.
    How weird that I feel compelled to let you know this so many years after the fact. How sad that a chance to talk to Kate will never come again.
    Thanks for the music.
    PS:Je ne saurais être aussi diplomatique et gentils comme tu l’as été en répondant à ce monsieur qui se permet de dire de Claude Léveillée qu’il est un artiste qui ne mérite pas d’être mieux connu! Ma réponse aurait été certainment plus caustique. 🙂

Leave a Reply

© 2011 Kate & Anna McGarrigle, All rights reserved.