Since the announcement of the death of Karl Tremblay, the legendary singer of the Cowboys Fringants, a veritable outpouring of love, emotional memories and pain – a very great pain – has invaded Quebec.
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Seeing him die too soon at the age of 47 from prostate cancer, the hearts of Quebecers are at half-mast. The pain of his departure reverberates even as far as Europe.
We have the intense feeling of losing a brother, a son, a friend. The one who, better than anyone else, knew us to our limits.
Born in the fall of 1976, Karl Tremblay died slowly on November 15, the date of the Parti Québécois’ first victory that same year. For the uncompromising separatist that he was, the date stands out.
If so many people mourn him, sometimes without even knowing why, it is because Karl Tremblay has been with us for more than 20 years.
A formidable stage beast, his voice, his smile, his enthusiasm, his irrepressible love of life and the captivating songs of the Cowboys have not failed to penetrate our hearts and pierce our souls.
All generations together, including mine – indeed, Dédé Fortin’s, who also left too young in the spring of 2000 – we all have pieces of life whose meaning was revealed to us by a Cowboys song.
Karl sang to us about our lives and our Quebec
Karl sang to us about our lives. Our stories. our loves Our breakups. Our families. Our hopes Our discouragements. Our loneliness Our alienating works.
He sang to us our fears before this exhausted land. He sang to us about Quebec. Land of our dreams, but also sometimes of our disappointments. Karl and the Cowboys dissected it all. With a scalpel, without commitment. They did it because they wanted better. For them and for all of us.
In 2002, the release of the album Union break it hits us like a ton of bricks. Autumn song. The manifestation. Head to Papineau. happy ordeal. the wedding.
I was overflowing with love, compassion, but also anger. That’s when I discovered Karl and Les Cowboys Fringants.
As with so many others, his songs came to find me, hold me, speak to me and explain the unexplainable.
Karl sang reality
In this other life, I was then a special adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office. Lost, more and more, in a universe that I had imagined more inspiring than it was.
Then I heard At half-mast. For the first time, I understood how I really felt. And I was able to stop being ashamed of hearing it.
Karl sang about reality there. simply Hard, but never free. He wanted to shake our cage that had become too silent.
He sang that born in the 70s, full of hope and change, “when I look at him today, I’m not proud of my homeland”. The “government doesn’t care” threw it in our faces.
“If this is modern Quebec, well, I’ll fly my flag at half-mast.” “If you dream of owning a country, well I’m telling you you’ve got a bad start, you have a better chance of winning the lottery.”
“The environment, poverty, are not priority issues, we don’t hear much about them at the doors of the ministries”. Karl Tremblay, both Cassandra and a brilliant troublemaker.
We miss him a lot. His voice His generosity. His lyrical kicks in our over-sleeping collective hive. And what can we say about his great courage in the face of illness.
All our condolences to his soul mate Marie-Annick, his family, Jean-François Pauzé and Jérôme Dupras, his friends and his legion of fans who, it is written in the sky, have not finished mourning him.
Thanks also to the Prime Minister for providing a national funeral for Karl Tremblay if the family agrees.