“Le monde a bien changé,” an iconic song of the Acadian band 1755, with lyrics by Gérald Leblanc and music by Pierre Robichaud, will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) as part of East Coast Music Awards (ECMAs) on May 5, 2022, in a live ceremony to be broadcast from Fredericton, N.B.
The new inductees will take to the stage at the Fredericton Playhouse on May 6, 2022, as part of the ECMAs Festival & Conference. The show won’t only be a tribute to the historical band, but also a celebration of Acadian culture, with guests like Lisa Leblanc and Emilie Landry. (Tickets are here.)
“Le monde a bien change” is about a man learning to love, and live a better life, thanks to a woman he’s met. “Basically, what’s changed is less the world around him than how he’s now seeing it through the prism of love,” said Pierre Robichaud. And because this is a love song more than anything else, the singer-songwriter found inspiration in several hit songs from the early 1960s for the chord progression.
The great musical friendship between Gérald Leblanc, Roland Gauvin, and Pierre Robichaud, 1755’s main songwriters, began in the 1970s at a party. Gauvin and Robichaud ended up in a bathroom with a dozen other people. Gauvin started jamming with another musician; then, during a pause, Robichaud grabbed his guitar and started playing a duet with Gauvin. “Sparks started flying when we started playing together at that bathroom party,” Robichaud recalled. “Our voices were in such harmony, and Roland is such a great singer. There was instant chemistry between us.”
One day, Robichaud and Gauvin asked the late, great Acadian poet Gérald Leblanc, whose works they’d discovered in college, to send them some of his poems so they could write music for them. He accepted the invitation, and submitted several poems. The rest is history: “I was sitting in my living room reading this poem called ‘Le monde a bien change,’” says Robichaud. “Instantly, I got the melodic line: Le monde a bien changé, changé, changé! Roland burst into laughter. It was a good sign!”
“That adventure took off so quickly! We went from being a pub band to filling New Brunswick’s largest arenas!” said Robichaud. The creative complicity between Gérald Leblanc, Roland Gauvin, and Pierre Robichaud ended up generating almost half of 1755’s repertoire, with many tunes being among the band’s most popular and memorable songs. Still today, 45 years after its creation, every time the band plays “Le monde a bien change” onstage, fans spanning four generations sing the lyrics by heart. If withstanding the test of time isn’t a sign of song’s greatness, what is?
With its frenzied songs (inspired by folk, country, and rock) that deal with the daily realities of French-speaking New Brunswickers, 1755 helped people become aware of the Maritimes’ Francophone identity. “1755 greatly contributed to the re-invention of the Acadian identity by building a narrative that reflected the contemporary reality of Acadians, and by re-negotiating what people considered to be ‘Acadian’ music. So, Acadian consumers gave great ideological importance to that music which they perceived not as a typical commercial music, but rather as a symbol of their cultural emancipation,” wrote Sylvie Leblanc in her memoir Le monde qu’on connaît: The Music of 1755 and the Construction of Acadian Identity.
Originally from Bouctouche, N.B., Gérald Leblanc, who died on May 30, 2005, at the age of 59, had a major influence on Acadian cultural life as a poet, an author, and a prolific lyricist. Besides 1755, bands and artists such as Idée du Nord and Marie-Jo Thério have performed his songs. As a writer, he published some 15 poetry collections while at the same time contributing to the writing of works for the theatre, translations, radio scripts, and anthologies. His liberated poetic writings call for Acadie to claim its rightful place within the French-speaking world as a culture with a unique cosmopolitan character; it’s an endeavour which, some might say, echoes that of the 1755 band, with its fusion of modern ‘70s rock and Acadian folk flavours.