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“The person he’s longing for in the song is his girlfriend, I’m pretty sure he wrote that for his first love,” says Paul Paiement.
Dimanche après-midi
  • Year Inducted: 2021
  • Written In: 1976
Songwriters
André Paiement Songwriter
Artists
CANO
Born on the shores of Ramsey Lake, on the campus of Laurentian University in Sudbury, the group Cano quickly established itself as an emblem of the francophone presence in Ontario with the album Tous dans l’même bateau released in 1976.

The song Dimanche après-midi can be heard on this debut album which is like a postcard sent from Sturgeon Falls, the Northern Ontario town where André Paiement and his sister Rachel, also a member of the band, grew up.  

André Paiement wrote the lyrics, inspired by his summer job as sacristan at the village’s French Catholic church, the biggest and most imposing of the region. It was he who rang the bells and worked, as it were, as a handyman in this holy place. “Like me, my older brother was a beadle,” recalls Paul Paiement. “André would get up in the morning, go to the church, open the doors, and then ring the bell, which could be heard throughout the city. Since there was nothing to do, because all the businesses in town were closed except the mill, he would sit on the walkway between the church and the rectory to smoke a cigarette while waiting for mass to end. There were four masses on Sundays! We did not attend all of them. . . We would wait for people to come out, and then we would pull on the ropes to ring the bells. That’s the story the song tells.”

Over the course of the three minutes and forty-one seconds of the original recording, author and vocalist André Paiement addresses someone he clearly misses and whom he speaks to in a poetic impulse. “Si tu étais ici/ Je ferais cesser l’orage/ La pluie qui claque sur le pavé/ J’ai envie d’aller marcher.” (freely: “If you were here / I’d make the storm stop / The rain slamming on the pavement / I feel like going for a walk”). With the church celebrations over, it’s not hard to imagine him wandering the streets of Sturgeon Falls, umbrella in hand and thinking of the one he loves. “The person he’s longing for in the song is his girlfriend, I’m pretty sure he wrote that for his first love,” says Paul Paiement. “They were together for a long time. She was a local girl. . .] Her name was Viviane, but I must admit that I can’t guarantee that she was the one he had in mind when he wrote that song. I know that many women in Sturgeon Falls claim to be the subject of the song En plein hiver, track 6 on the same album. If you knew how many women! They’re all in their seventies, now. . .” Magnetic as can be, to use the word used by his younger brother to describe him, André could hold everyone’s gaze, women as well as men, no matter their sexual orientation. There is no doubt that this attractive and strong presence has greatly contributed to Cano’s success.    

The country accents and pop structure of Dimanche après-midi delicately contrasts with the other predominantly prog rock pieces that make up Cano’s repertoire. “I think it was influenced by Buffalo Springfield, one of Neil Young’s first bands. It’s in the same acoustic vein. As a matter of fact, I have a recording of André singing Buffalo Springfield’s I Am a Child.”

Sadly, André Paiement’s life will come to a tragic and abrupt end. Despite being applauded night after night on stages all across Canada, the songwriter committed suicide in January of 1978 at the young age of 27. The members of Cano carried on for years, fuelled his words, his melodies and his desire to share. The band’s second album, Au nord de notre vie, which contained songs recorded before his death, will be released posthumously and is a snapshot of the shooting star he was.  

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