World Note on Music Reissue, The Label American Light in the Attic last week unveiled the first collection dedicated to the work of Montreal folk singer-songwriter Willie Dunn. Twenty-two songs, taken from four albums recorded between 1970 and 1984, reveal the talent of a talented melody artist in the service of a song that pledged to protect the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples. However, the discovery of this exceptional review raises an embarrassing question: why is Tonn’s talent not recognized by the devil at its reasonable value?
Released on his debut album (Willy Tons, 1971), I feel sorry for the country Considered one of his best songs. The musician’s amber voice is a subtle folk ballad adorned with a slow landing harmonica, providing a contrasting contrast with the subject – filled text: ” The police are arresting me / Materialists hate me / Pollution it suffocates me / Movies that make fun of me / Politicians are exploiting me / City life it overwhelms me / Hudson Bay runs me / The hunting laws froze me Tons sings quietly.
“I hear it every time [cette chanson] It strikes me, ”says Elizabeth Isaac, who discovered Dunn’s work as a young man. “He reminds me a little of Richard Deszardins’ way: this vision, these images, how these witches could have been to him! After all, this dessert [dans la voix], Although he sang hard. When the song is played, “Is he going to shout these words?” But no. He does not need this to get his message across. “
“This tone, it is everywhere in all his work,” he promises Duty Willie’s son Lawrence Dunn, co – producer of Anthology (with Kevin Howes of Toronto) and co – author of the generous and informative manual. “That, too, has guided his life: he can use very harsh words to talk about a situation. He can be very critical and laugh all the time.”
Born in Montreal in 1941 to a father with Scottish roots and a mother of Mickmack descent, Willie Dunn spent his life first as a musician and later as a filmmaker and politician (under the NDP’s Orange Banner). Ran for Ottawa-Vanier ride in the 1993 federal election) to demand the rights of indigenous peoples.
In the early 1960s, he attended Coffeehouses Montreal – and its partners Totem Pole Restaurant & Coffee House, Rue Stanley – will find one in the company of other musicians from the emerging folk scene; At the same time, he stayed in New York and met Bob Dylan and John Pace at the Newport Folk Festival. Later, he will be seen as a director on the National Film Board, with his friend Alanis Obomsa – his short film The Pallet of Croft (1968), with a long folk song of the same name, often referred to as the first music video in Canadian music history.
Ton has never experienced worse living conditions in residential schools, but in a heartbreaking song as a symbol of the treatment that indigenous peoples experience in Canada Charlie (1972) tells the story of Sony “Charlie” Wenjak, a young boy from Ontario of Anichinabe descent who, with an impressive economy of words, relies only on a strong figure. ” And he is looking for his father / He seeks love / A lost boy on the railroad tracks / Home bound moving Tons sings softly. The discovery of the body of twelve-year-old Charlie, believed to have died of starvation in October 1966, sparked the first investigation into residential schools in the country.
“He was a great humanist, this guy and had a beautiful sensibility,” Florent Valent commented, referring to the folk musician who died in 2013 as a “friend”. Valentine is another ton of classics, Son of the sun, On Castin’s second album (Still, 1991); Six years ago, he invited Willy Dunn to sing with musician Philippe McKenzie at the Innu Nigamu Festival he founded at his home in Maliot. “I learned a lot from interacting with him and going on stage with him,” Valent continues. He was part of my journey, he was someone tall, to me tall like Buffy Saint-Mary, Neil Young, like Dylan. In my opinion, he belongs to the same universe. Why is it not highly recognized? This is a mystery. Did he belong to that galaxy at some point? “
“Leonard Cohen may have known him and would have thought the same thing today: Why is Willie Dunn not on my side? P Elizabeth Isaac wonders, he’s glad we paid attention to this pioneer today. Anti-song Canadian. For his part, his son Lawrence believes that one of the reasons Willie Dunn was not recognized was his role in defending civil rights: “I think it has a lot to do with the lessons he has discussed,” he said. His songs were aimed at power. He denounced the power in that place. And he sang for the people – not just the natives, but all the people. “
“Many of the former activists [de la cause autochtone] Those who were active in politics in the 1960s and 1970s and have now done things recognize Willie’s importance in “providing a different reading of Canadian history and helping to mobilize the tribal people through his songs,” says his son. “I have often heard these people say that he was the catalyst for the movement for civil rights. He not only composed the soundtrack of this movement, but also ignited the flames of activists.”