Legendary author, songwriter Réjean Ducharme passes away at 76

August 22, 2017

It’s with both an immense sadness, and infinite gratitude for his contribution to the music of Québec, that SOCAN has learned that the legendary author, playwright and sculptor Réjean Ducharme passed away on Aug. 21, 2017. His publisher, Gallimard, confirmed the news of Réjean Ducharme’s by way of a press release. He was 76 years old.

Born in Saint-Félix-de-Valois in 1941, Ducharme took the literary world by storm with his novels (L’Avalée des avalées [1966], Le Nez qui voque [1967], L’Hiver de force [1973] and Les Enfantômes [1976], to name just a few); his plays (Ines Pérée et Inat Tendu [1968], Ha… [1978]); and his two screenplays, both directed by the late Francis Mankiewicz (Les Bons Débarras [1979] and Les Beaux Souvenirs [1981]).

But the man who spent his whole life staying away from the limelight and public scrutiny also significantly contributed to the repertoire of two of Québec’s biggest music icons. For Robert Charlebois, he wrote or co-wrote more than 30 songs, most notably “Mon pays,” “Le Violent seul (S’chut tanné),” “J’t’haïs,” “J’veux d’l’amour,” “Révolte,” “Limoilou,” “Je l’savais.’ He also wrote or co-wrote for the late Pauline Julien.

A telling example of his ongoing influence on younger generations, Réjean Ducharme’s work recently turned up in Patrice Michaud’s hit “Kamikaze,” which cited Ducharme’s famous sentence from Le nez qui voque: “L’amour ce n’est pas quelque chose… c’est quelque part.” (“Love is not a thing, it’s a place”). In an interview with the SOCAN online magazine, Michaud said, “It’s not the first time I nod to a writer, but here it’s the songs very core, so we needed to clear it with the publisher, Gallimard… And they said yes! It means a lot to me, because Ducharme is a huge influence for me.”

Réjean Ducharme won several important honours, including three Governor General’s Awards, in 1973, 1982 and 1994; the Athanase David Award in 1994; the Grand Prix national des lettres de France in 1999; and he became an Officer of the National Order of Québec in 2000.

On behalf of all its songwriter, lyricist, composer and publisher members, SOCAN wishes to express its deepest sympathy to Réjean Ducharme’s family and loved ones.