Bonhomme! Bonhomme!

'Bonhomme! Bonhomme!' Traditional audience-participation song.

'Bonhomme! Bonhomme!'

'Bonhomme! Bonhomme!' Traditional audience-participation song. 'Voleurs de pois et vieille chanson' ('Peashooters and old song'), a droll article by Ernest Gagnon - written after he had discovered a document preserved in the legal archives of Quebec City - maintains that this song was sung in Quebec City as early as 1638. In France the words consist of a mixture of French and patois. As Gagnon states in his Chansons populaires du Canada (Quebec City 1865), two versions are known in Canada. The first asks the Bonhomme (to whom the song is addressed) whether he can play knee-on-the-ground. When he touches the ground with his knee the song continues specifying the elbow, then other parts of the anatomy. The second version asks the Bonhomme (or the audience) if he can play a musical instrument. He then is required to mime the playing of several instruments and imitate their sound. In Gagnon's volume the melody is found in the minor mode, differing from the better-known melody in the major mode published by La Bonne Chanson in Chantons en choeur (St-Hyacinthe 1945). Talivaldis Kenins arranged the song for choir (Harris 1962). Recorded in the 78 era by Conrad Gauthier and others, the song later appeared on LPs by André Bertrand (Franco-Elite 6901) and Paul-Émile Corbeil and les Gais Copains (Fonorama MF-5).

Further Reading

  • Gagnon, Ernest. 'Voleurs de pois et vieille chanson,' Nouvelle-France, vol 7, Nov 1908