Bal chez Boulé

'Bal chez Boulé'. The text of this chanson en laisse (a type of French ballad or epic song) appears for the first time in the supplement to the Chansonnier des Collèges (1851).

'Bal chez Boulé'

'Bal chez Boulé'. The text of this chanson en laisse (a type of French ballad or epic song) appears for the first time in the supplement to the Chansonnier des Collèges (1851). The appendix to Conrad Laforte's La Chanson folklorique et les écrivains du XIXe siècle (Montreal 1973) gives a list of versions and publications. Onomatopoeic sounds or in some versions the set phrase 'Vogue, beau marinier' make up the refrain. This diversity indicates clearly the song's antiquity and its wide distribution. The text of the verses tells the story of a servant, Louison Blé or in other versions José Blai(s), who goes off to a dance at Boulé's place (chez Boulé) with his sweetheart, having completed his daily chores around the farm and changed his clothes. His talents as a dancer - evaluated differently in different versions of the song - lead to his ejection (or not) from the ball. In Les Anciens Canadiens (Quebec City 1863) Philippe-Joseph Aubert de Gaspé places the origin of the song in the region of Montmagny, Que (where the name of Boulé is widespread), and identifies the José in question as the author. The latter assertion, however, is questioned by Laforte. The melody, of which a version is included in Ernest Gagnon'sChansons populaires du Canada (Quebec City 1865), may have been borrowed (according to Folk Songs of Canada) from an old sea shanty. 'Bal chez Boulé' has been recorded several times. It has appeared on 78s by Charles Marchand, alone and with his Bytown Troubadours, and on LPs by the Montreal Bach Choir (Vox STPL 511.860), Jacques Labrecque (RCI/RCA CS 100-9), the Alouette Vocal Quartet, Robert Savoie and others.


Further Reading

  • Laforte, Conrad. 'Le Bal chez Boulé,' Dictionnaire des oeuvres littéraires du Québec, vol 1, ed Maurice Lemire (Montreal 1978)

    Laforte, Conrad. La chanson de tradition orale: une découverte des écrivains du XIXe siècle (en France et au Québec), 2nd ed. (Montreal 1995)