Era Inducted To: Modern Era
Singer-songwriter Luc Cousineau had previously been one-half of the successful folk duo Les Alexandrins (later known as “Luc et Lise”). He had his first solo hit in 1976 with the single Vivre en amour. The modern folk song (the English translation of the title is “Living in Love”) was a lucky last-minute addition to the 1976 self-titled album “Luc Cousineau” with Cousineau’s newly founded production company, Disques Airedale.
Cousineau began working on an instrumental album during the summer of 1975. A few months later, after a studio session during which he and his musicians recorded the rhythmic sections of the album, Cousineau’s guitarist friend mentioned that they forgot to include a ballad. The group returned to the studio, tired and lacking enthusiasm. With the rhythmic parts of the musical ballad recorded, Cousineau sang a melody including some “la, la, la” having in mind to refine the song later with an orchestration. Sound engineer, arranger and music composer Jimmy Tanaka later suggested to Cousineau that he add lyrics to the ballad rather than leaving it as an instrumental tune. Tanaka contacted lyricist Roger Magnan, known for his song Le père Noël, c’t’un québécois, requesting that he compose lyrics for Cousineau’s song. The next day, in studio, Luc Cousineau sang for the very first time Vivre en amour. For the final version, the voices of Estelle Sainte-Croix and Cousineau’s nine-year old daughter, Emmanuèle, were added. A music video from the album’s only song, Vivre en amour, was created from an extract of a documentary produced during the creation of the instrumental album titled “Luc Cousineau,” and was broadcast across Quebec.
Cousineau’s single Vivre en amour, with Marie-Madeleine on the B side, was released on May 19, 1976; it shot onto the Quebec radio play charts the following week, enjoying in total 13 weeks on the charts and one week at No. 1. Vivre en amour launched Luc Cousineau’s name anew onto everyone’s lips, where the song has remained ever since thanks to new generations of Quebeckers wholeheartedly adopting its inspirational message. The following year, Vivre en amour was published in sheet music form by Les Publications Chant de Mon Pays.
Vivre en amour is a utopian vision of love and harmony among peoples, in keeping with the 1960/70s “peace and love” movement. Ironically, it was some bad news on that day that inspired Roger Magnan to write about universal love referred to in the song. The chorus features a simple, repetitive melody, easy to remember and join in, and audiences often do. The lyrics begin with the title words; and the internal rhyming (for example, “Vivre en amour tous les jours” and “Sur la terre sans frontière”) makes the words easy to memorize.
Now a widely recognized Quebec classic, Vivre en amour earned a SOCAN Classic Award in 1995 for over 25,000 radio airplays. It was also selected for a milk advertising campaign in Quebec, and is featured on the “Le Lait Vol 2” (EMI Music Canada 2002) album of milk promotion jingles. It has been performed at many events and at venues ranging from Montreal’s Place des Arts to school auditoriums.
In 1977, the year following Vivre en amour’s release, the song made it onto the compilation LP “Super Vedettes du Palmarès.” It was chosen for the sheet music books “Chante la vie : Recueil de chansons d’hier et d’aujourd’hui” (1988) and “Succès des années 70 au Québec” (2006). It has been arranged for four-part choir and for organ, and a karaoke version is available. Cousineau also later re-used the title for his 2001 compilation CD “Vivre en amour” and included the song on a later issue of “J’Laisse aller.”
Singer Nathalie Simard recorded Vivre en amour on “Il y avait un jardin” in 2007. She interprets the song as a reminder to live life to the fullest, telling Le Journal de Montréal, “This song makes me smile…. we must take the time to live.” Singer Marie-Pier Perrault recorded a cover version on her album “Où le route mène,” and in 2004 the song was chosen by the website “Top Pop Francophone 1900-2000” as one of their top 500 songs.
The Montreal writer, composer and performer Roger Magnan is known for writing or co-writing over 180 songs since 1969.
Luc Cousineau (born in 1944 in Montreal) studied the cello, saxophone and double-bass. In addition to performing and recording albums as a singer-songwriter, Cousineau has also written for film, television, and theatre (Françoise Loranger’s “Double Jeu” and Léandre Bergeron’s “Tout le monde est heureux!?”), and composed music for memorable television commercials (“Il est parti prendre son Bovril…”) and arrangements (“Qu’est-ce qui fait donc chanter les p’tits Simard”). With nineteen albums, numerous singles, and more than 200 recorded songs, Cousineau’s musical achievements over his 50-year career have contributed to making him one of the greats in Quebecois music.
In 2014, Cousineau released his 18th album “Le gars, là”. Soon after its release he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Despite the illness, Cousineau continued to pursue his projects. The following year he recorded a new album (“Tant qu’il y aura une chanson”) with 10 unreleased songs, all recorded in 2013, before the disease prevented him from singing and playing guitar. Vivre en amour was included on this album along with two other hits, Angela mon amour and Comme tout le monde. Cousineau combined his new album and the album “Cousineau 1973” to form a double album for which part of the proceeds would be donated to the ALS Society of Quebec. During the launch of “Tant qu’il y aura une chanson,” Luc stated: “Fortunately, all of the songs were recorded while I was still able to sing and play the guitar…. Over four decades separates these two albums, yet the same fire lives within me. My passion for songwriting and singing is the same…. As long as there is a song… life will keep its purpose.”