The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame extends its Covered Classics series into the new year with the induction of the song Mile After Mile / Mille après mille, written by Franco-Ontarian country music singer-songwriter Gérald “Gerry” Joly. Juno Award winner Élage Diouf pays homage to Joly with a tribute performance.
Gerry Joly is among the few Canadian songwriters to have penned a hit song in both official languages. Part love song, part introspective query about the meaning of life, Mile After Mile was written by Joly in Elliott Lake in northern Ontario in 1969, after a long drive during which his car gave him mechanical troubles. Joly’s lyrics convey the loneliness of the open road, while the guitar and percussion provide a constant rhythmic reminder of the car’s wheels turning unrelentingly as the miles pass.
Mile After Mile was a huge hit for the well-known country singer Orval Prophet in the early 70s. His recording remained on the Canadian country charts for a total of 21 weeks, attaining the coveted No. 1 position in January 1972, and held the top spot for three weeks.
In Quebec, the proclaimed “King of western”, Willie Lamothe, recorded the French version of the song, Mille après mille, in 1972. More than 40 years after its initial release, the song is still recognized today as one of Quebec’s most iconic tunes. Top Quebec singers from Isabelle Boulay to Fred Pellerin and Céline Dion have performed the Joly composition.
In the video below, acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Élage Diouf performs the song in his unique style.
Mille après mille
Written by Gerry Joly
Performed by Élage Diouf
Master percussionist, Senegalese born singer-songwriter and performer Élage Diouf settled in Canada in 1996.
His music – a blend of pop, world, blues and asiko – thrives at the artistic crossroad of artists like Carlinhos Brown, Peter Gabriel and Andres Cepeda. The musicality of the Wolof language explains his singing mainly in his mother tongue. A renowned star in his native Senegal, he made a name for himself in Canada in 2010 with his first solo album, “Aksil”. This album received many accolades, namely the JUNO Award (Best World Music Album of the Year) and the FÉLIX for the Best World Music Album (“Meilleur album de musiques du monde”). Élage was named “Artiste Révélation Radio-Canada” and also received the “Galaxie Rising Star Award” for his performance at the Mundial Montreal show. In August 2015, Élage launched his second solo album, “Melokáane”, “reflection” in wolof. The album is filled with irresistible rhythms – fans bask in waves of contagious euphoria.