Although my favorite version of this song is that version sung by the Canadian husband and wife team of Ian and Sylvia in the 1960s, unfortunately that version is not available on any of the free music sites that I am aware of, although I have only checked YouTube and Daily Motion. I’ve added “American” to the title to represent those Americans who for the last eight years have often felt that they had no country, often as a result of vote stealing, ballot box manipulation and attempts at keeping Americans from voting, which has been fully documented by sites such as TPMMuckraker and Black Box Voting and a multitude of others.
I’ve been checking to see if the Ian and Sylvia version of this song shows up on these sites for several years, and most of the versions I have found have been unsatisfactory or not of sufficient quality to convey the feeling of loss that befits the song. The song is meant to convey the melancholy feeling that becomes part of one’s being when he feels he has lost or has actually lost his country.
For the last eight years I have often felt immersed in feelings that the fascist tendencies of our elected leaders have destroyed the country I once felt I knew and grew to love. The policies of our leaders, especially those of fanatical Republicans, seemed to be destroying everything that was grand and wonderful about this nation years ago — at least during the period of the 60s and 70s when I was young and idealistic (excepting the Vietnam War, which was a curse of somewhat similar nature, although in many ways we did not descend into the darkness inside this nation, unlike the dark days brought about by George Bush within our borders).
Thousands of other bloggers also seem to convey these feelings every day. As we watched our nation descend into what seemed like chaos and oblivion, the song seems to me to have been relevant at almost any time during the last eight years, particularly when George Bush was exhibiting his worst fascist tendencies. Perhaps I have posted another version of this song here, perhaps not. At any rate, I hope you enjoy this version. For those who understand French, the words will speak for themselves. For those who don’t, this translation may convey some of the feelings that the song evokes. If not, I am sure some of our French experts that frequent this site will correct the translation.
Although I am a little unclear about who the singer is, I believe his name is Stephen Pate. This is not a studio version — it is said to have been sung at a small kitchen party. And lastly, I would add that there was always a question of whether Prescott Bush had fascist tendencies. George Bush proved that the gene runs in the family. May those living in America or those sent to horrific places by her government never again suffer the fate of so many during these years that seem to me and others to be the closest America has come to fascism in my or my ancestor’s lifetimes. May the Great Spirit, if you believe in one, spare us from a similar fate in the future.
The story of the song is explained on YouTube as follows:
After the Papineau rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada of 1837-8, rebels who escaped reprisal went into exile in the US. Edith Fowke writes: “Their plight inspired a young student, M.A. Gérin-Lajoie, to write “Un Canadien errant,” setting it to the tune of a popular French folk song, “Si tu te mets anguille.” Soon after the song appeared in 1842, French Canadians were singing it from Acadia on the east coast to the distant reaches of the North-West Territories.’
Antoine Gérin-Lajoie's lyrics were also informally adopted by the Acadians beginning in 1844, in the context of the Acadian deportation 1755-62. After refusing to swear allegiance to the British crown, many Acadians fled to inland Acadia, Île St-Jean [Prince Edward Island], or Cape Breton, 1749-55. (Encyclopaedia of Canadians with edits)