TORONTO, January 9th, 2016 – The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) is pleased to announce the induction of “Si j’avais un char” (in English, the title translates as “If I Had a Car”) written by Stephen Faulkner and Sylvie Choquette, and most familiar to fans as a cut from Stephen Faulkner’s 1978 debut solo album Cassonade. The induction is celebrated with a tribute performance by Marie-Pierre Arthur for the Hall of Fame’s Covered Classics series. Marie-Pierre Arthur’s performance can be viewed here.
A classic country song known throughout Québec, “Si j’avais un char” explores the notion of freedom through the simple dream of owning a car. Featuring the country twang of a slide guitar, and the back-up vocals of co-composer Sylvie Choquette, “Si j’avais un char” lies firmly in the Québec country music tradition of Willie Lamothe, Tex Lecor, and Lucille Starr. Recorded under Faulkner’s pseudonym Cassonade, the song launched his career as a singer-songwriter. It peaked at No. 7 and charted for 25 weeks, six of which were in the Top 30; it has also made the list of longest-charting hits in Québec.
“I’ve always alternated between writing country songs and rock. Country swings; it allows you to write lyrics that are more meaningful than in a rock song,” Faulkner told Montréal newspaper The Gazette in 1994. The lyrics to “Si j’avais un char” portray a character that audiences easily identify with: A young man, flat broke, who yearns for the freedom of having wheels.
Faulkner included “Si j’avais un char” (along with another Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee, “Mille après Mille”) on his Capturé vivant album, recorded live at Montréal’s Cabaret Music Hall in 2002, and on the double-album Si j’avais un char. As a classic “car song,” “Si j’avais un char” was one of several in the Quebec Musée de la civilisation’s “Auto Portrait” exhibit in 1993. The song title was also used in the French version of a 2006 TV series on the history of the automobile. Faulkner appreciated the irony of the song’s status, later telling Radio-Canada that driving “…is bad for the planet.”
Faulkner has performed the song at Montreal’s FrancoFolies and other music festivals, and it appears on the 2003 St-Tite, Quebec Western Festival album, as well as the compilation album 75 ans, 75 chansons. It has pride of place in the 2011 film documentary on Faulkner, J’m’en va r’viendre. Faulkner later wrote a follow-up song, “Du gaz dans mon char” (“Gas in my car”). “Si j’avais un char” has been recorded by Génération V.I.P., The Cloverland Band, Antoine Gratton, and Dominic Sylvain, and was even sung in Italian by Marco Calliari as “Se avessi una vespa.”
Montréaler Faulkner began his music career by recording and touring in the early 1970s with Plume Latraverse. He released several solo albums and is known for his songs “Doris,” “Mon grand cheval noir d’amour,” and “Un cowboy à Paris.” In the 1980s and 1990s, he toured in France. He has won two ADISQ awards: Best Country Album, for Caboose, in 1993; and Songwriter of the Year, in 2001.
Sylvie Choquette was born in Montréal and began her artistic career alongside Plume and Cassonade (Stephen Faulkner) at the end of the ’70s. Later, she co-wrote a few songs with Faulkner, including the popular Si j’avais un char. Throughout her years on Québec’s music scene, she has worked as a backing vocalist, solo singer, bass player and actress. She put an end to her music career in 1996 and has since participated in only a handful of recordings for Dance Plant Record and contributed to two shows during the Montréal Jazz Fest.
“It’s a great honour to have Si j’avais un char co-written with my friend Sylvie inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame,” says Stephen Faulkner. “An honour that will guarantee it a well-deserved destiny. I rejoice with the utmost pride.”
A collaboration between the CSHF and CBC Music/ICI Musique, Covered Classics invites Canada’s finest musical talent to perform their version of a classic song to celebrate its induction into the Hall of Fame. To learn more and view 2016 Covered Classics performances, click here.
About the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (www.cshf.ca) honours and celebrates Canadian songwriters and those who have dedicated their lives to the legacy of music, and works to educate the public about these achievements. National and non-profit, the Hall of Fame is guided by its own board of directors who comprise both Anglophone and Francophone music creators and publishers, as well as representation from the record industry. In December 2011, SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) acquired the Hall of Fame. The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame’s mandate aligns with SOCAN’s objectives as a songwriter and publisher membership-based organization.
CBC Music (www.cbcmusic.ca) is Canada’s free digital music service connecting Canadians with the very best in Canadian and international music, concerts and features. Simple and easy to navigate, CBC Music gives music fans access to 50 Web radio stations, 12 distinct genre-based music communities, CBC Radio 2 and CBC Radio 3, plus content from the most knowledgeable music personalities and programmers from across the country, hundreds of concerts, playlists and more.
ICIMusique.ca (www.icimusique.ca) is Radio-Canada’s online music platform. It allows Canadians to stream live radio, and listen to over 150 channels of web radio, albums streaming, special features and music news.