A mix inspired by my beloved father, Hugues Chicoine, who passed away peacefully on September 2, 2016, at the age of 67. The mix contains music that we shared, that was at the core of our relationship throughout the 47 years we had together, all favourites of ours/his/mine; I feel truly blessed to have had the chance of having him as a father and as a guide to all this wonderful music, and so much more… That’s all I can say: thank you Hugues!
Generation (In Loving Memory of Hugues Alonzo Chicoine 1948-2016)
1. Father and Son—Johnny Cash feat. Fiona Apple
Dad loved Cat Stevens, and of all his songs, this one is my favourite because of the line “From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen”, which I find amazing to describe the conflicting relation between childhood and fatherhood. I’m a big fan of Cash and Apple, so their version seemed more than appropriate to open this homage.
2. The Ink in the Well—David Sylvian
Dad introduced me to Japan in my early teens, and we followed Sylvian when he embarked on his solo career. Brilliant Trees is one of the CDs that played the most in our apartment in the 80s.
3. The Rainbow—Talk Talk
Spirit of Eden remains one of our favourite albums of all time, yes even more than Laughing Stock, which is generally regarded as a better album. The Rainbow was my favourite track. I don’t think dad had a favourite one; he viewed the whole album as a single masterpiece.
4. Somebody Up There Likes You—Simple Minds
If there is one album that could be said to be THE album that was “Us”, it’s definitely Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream. The first time I flew on a plane—to go visit dad in Toronto while he was studying photography at Ryerson—I had made myself a mixtape and this song is the one I chose for when the plane would take off. The title is also befitting of a musical eulogy, obviously, and the Minds chose this title as an homage to David Bowie and his song Somebody Up There Likes Me.
5. Architecture and Morality—Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Another one of our classics. Hugues was a big OMD fan, up until at least A&M, not sure he enjoyed Dazzle Ships and their following pop phase, but this title track to their 1981 album was one of his favourites after Julia’s Song, which appears later in this mix.
6. Holiday on the Moon—Love and Rockets
This was the soundtrack to our trip to Cancun in 1986. Dad loved the lyrics and super slow pace of this one, just as I do.
7. Opus for Four/Debut/E. F. L.—The Art of Noise
This one is not necessarily one that dad especially liked, but it is one that I deeply associate with him on an emotional level.
8. The Other Side of Heaven—Kissing the Pink
Another lesser know band dad introduced me to, he was more of a fan of their Naked album while I preferred What Noise?, and especially this song, whose title was befitting here.
9. Horse With No Name—Seelenluft
To open the 60–70’s section of this homage, I decided to use a cover version, once more. Dad loved this 1971 hit by America, but I don’t think I ever played this 2007 version by the Swiss Beat Solèr for him. I’m pretty sure he would’ve enjoyed it.
10. Carpet Crawlers—Genesis
Aaah! Genesis. A major part of my childhood. Dad, mom and my Uncle Jean-François, dad’s youngest brother (we’re only 12 years apart) even took me to see the Selling England by the Pound tour at Montréal’s CEPSUM in 1974 when I was 4. But The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was definitely his—and my—favourite Genesis album, by far. I could’ve used any song from that album on this mix, but Carpet Crawlers is one of the songs that reminds me of him the most.
11. Lucky Man—Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Never grew to really like ELP, but Lucky Man was one of dad’s favourites.
12. When You’re a Free Man — The Moody Blues
The Moody Blues are even more central to my childhood than Genesis or the Floyd, and they’re another band my parents took me to see live at an age and in an era where it wasn’t commonplace to see kids at a rock concert. Dad had all their albums, and they’re probably the first band I bonded with and would put on one of their albums on my own when I was barely 5 or 6. Gotta love dad for that: he purposefully placed the turntable at a height where I could use it on my own if I wanted to. . . How wonderfully thoughtful is that?
13. Lay, Lady, Lay—Bob Dylan
Same as ELP, I never became a Dylan fan, but dad loved this song and I quite enjoy it also.
14. You’re So Vain—Carly Simon
My parents had me very young, and they were, to a certain extent, what could be called hippies. As a result, it comes as no surprise that when I was merely 4, they decided to hitchhike across the country to Vancouver and back. This Carly Simon classic with Mick Jagger on backing vocals is, in my memories of that trip, the soundtrack to that adventure that took us many months to complete.
15. Summer Breeze—Seals & Crofts
Frankly nothing much to say about this one except that dad liked it a lot.
16. Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)—The Rolling Stones
Dad was a much bigger Stones fan than he was a Beatles fan, and their 1973 album Goats Head Soup was one of his favourites of theirs. I love the NYC-feel of this track that he really loved.
17. Let’s Spend the Night Together—David Bowie
There had to be at least one Bowie song on this mix, although he wasn’t one of the artists that played the most at home. The one album that was a mainstay in dad’s record collection, however, was Aladdin Sane, so what better segue way than his version of the Stones’ classic, which we both considered much better than the original.
18. Shadowplay—Joy Division
Here we go with the 80’s segment made of bands that were central to that decade and to our life together in our legendary downtown Québec City apartment. This homage commanded Joy Division, and Shawdowplay is definitely one of our favourites, and it is one of my all-time favourite guitar solos; Barney is underestimated as a guitar player.
19. Over the Wall—Echo & the Bunnymen
Hugues was a huge E&tB fan, much more than me, even though I do love them. Over the Wall, from their 1981 album Heaven Up Here—a reference to the point of this homage—was one of his favouritest of the band, and definitely his favourite album of the band.
20. Dear Prudence—Siouxsie & The Banshees
Had to have a Beatles song on here, but this version is the one we shared the most. We had a radio show for a few seasons on Québec City’s CKRL community radio station in the 80s, and during one of these seasons, we put on a show that was called Like Father, Like Son where we’d play an original song followed by all it’s cover versions we could think of or find. This was obviously one of those.
21. Gimme Shelter—The Sisters of Mercy
Here’s another cover for you, and again, for all his love of the Stones, Hugues thought this version was way better than the original. All I can say is: how fucking cool is it to have a dad that loves The Sisters of Mercy when you’re a teenager into that kind of music. . .
22. King Is White and in the Crowd—Simple Minds
I’ve mentioned New Gold Dream before, and dad loved this one, too.
23. Love Song—Simple Minds
This definitely was dad’s favourite Simple Minds song, and seeing him dance to it in clubs was a sight to behold; since he had taken up ballet up to a semi-pro level, he moved and danced like no one else on a dancefloor!
24. Midnight Man—Flash and the Pan
No idea how he discovered Flash and the Pan, but he really enjoyed what little material of his/theirs we could put our hands on at the time. I only recently discovered that it was in fact one of Australia’s Young brothers, the other siblings being members of AC/DC. . .
25. Julia’s Song—Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Dad’s favouritest OMD song.
26. I Die: You Die—Gary Numan
Dad loved Numan, but mostly his Telekon album, and this classic from that album. I dug deeper in his discography and there are tracks that I like better than this one, but it’s still a track I love, and I have very vivid images of my dad and I enjoying it very loud while preparing dinner or whatever. . .
27. My New Career—Japan
Gentlemen Take Polaroids had such an impact on me as a young man, musically and aesthetically. I tried looking like David Sylvian on the album’s cover even to go to school, I adored their music, becoming quite a completist of their discography and even the band member’s solo efforts. I am very thankful for dad to have introduced me to their music, as I am for all the music he introduced me to.
28. Friday Night, Saturday Morning—The Specials
I think dad never quite understood my love of The Specials, which he enjoyed, but wasn’t necessarily a fan of. I chose this track because I bought this 12” the first time I visited him in Toronto.
29. Poptones—Public Image Limited
Dad and I weren’t fans of P.I.L. except for the Paris au Printemps live album, which we positively adored, and incidentally was released as being by Image Publique, S.A. This is our favourite, especially because of the talking at the beginning of the track, which I have not included here, where Lydon says to the audience, “I’ll walk off this fucking stage if you keep spitting on me, dogs!”, which inspired the album’s cover.
30. Doubts Even Here—New Order
Of course, New Order had to be included on here; dad loved them, and Movement was definitely his favourite. Any songs off that album could have been used here, but I chose this one.
31. We Have Come to Bless this House—Severed Heads
The first time I was in a club was at Québec City’s legendary Shoeclack, I was 13 and it was my dad who took me there. That time was the first time I heard the Heads’ Dead Eyes Opened, which is still to this day one of my favourite tracks. Dad thought Severed Heads were intriguing and liked their experimental side. He positively loved this song from their 1985 album City Slab Horror.
32. Golden Brown—The Stranglers
Another band dad made me discover through the mixtapes he would send from Toronto. When I told my mom that I wanted her to hear something he had sent and told her the band was called The Stranglers, she was kind of worried, but when she heard this nearly classical music, she was really confused. . .
33. Decades—Joy Division
There had to be more than one JD song on this tribute, and ever since I first heard this album back in the days, I’ve said I wanted this one to play at my funeral, which is why I’ve included it here.
34. Cold Song—Klaus Nomi
Nomi. Dad loved him. This song seemed befitting.
35. The Great Gig in the Sky—Pink Floyd
Much Floyd rocked my childhood. This song, again, was quite unavoidably required on a musical homage to Hugues.
36. Concierto De Arajuez (Adagio)—Miles Davis
Dad loved Miles and transmitted that love to me very early on and to this day; I even got a tattoo of Miles’ iconic “logo” of him playing the trumpet. I didn’t want to be too obvious in my choice of Miles’ song to include on this homage, and remembered that Hugues really loved Aranjuez very much, and Sketches of Spain is an album I, a lot of people, often overlook from his Gil Evans era.
37. On Earth as It Is in Heaven—Ennio Morricone
Although it’s not evident in this homage, Hugues loved classical music, especially Bach. This Morricone soundtrack is hands down and by far the CD that played the most in our apartment; I had no choice whatsoever to include one of its tracks on this homage.
38. Stay—Hans Zimmer
He probably never heard this piece as I don’t think he saw the movie Interstellar. Even though I told him I had made this mix for him, he didn’t want to hear it. He didn’t wish to hear any music in the last weeks of his earthly life. I do understand why, too. I believe he started detaching himself emotionally in preparing for his departure, and hearing music and reliving memories would’ve made things harder in regard to his decision to opt for doctor assisted death. I could never resent him for not wanting to hear it, but there is a bit of regret, though. This emotionally powerful piece, which is made even more powerful by its title, seemed like the perfect coda to this homage to my beloved dad. If you’ve made it this far into this homage, you understand.
Following is the translation of a text I wrote a few days before dad’s death, on the night we learned when the appointment was for his DAD (doctor-assisted death, ironic, isn’t it?), and amended a little after coming home from said procedure.
When You Dad Dies
When your dad dies, when you know it’s coming, things take on a different flavour, a different perspective.
Your dog gets on your nerves, but then you realize that right now, your dad would probably love for your annoying dog to be lying by his side, breathing calmly and warming him up.
Then again, your dad is constantly in a feverish state because his body is locked into a 24/7 battle with the invader, a thing you realized on your penultimate visit: you sat next to him in bed and after a few minutes, you said “Wow! You’re so warm…” and he explained why. . .
You do the dishes, cuz you have to. But when your dad’s dying, you feel stupid to be doing dishes while your dad’s dying.
But then you realize that while your dad is dying and you feel it’s stupid to do the dishes, he would surely prefer to be doing the dishes rather than be dying, even if your annoying dog keeps pestering him for food.
When the person who gave you your most beautiful—and some of the worse—memories of your life is fading away, it’s hard not to feel like those memories are fading away with him.
But that’s Life.
Your knee-jerk reaction is to tell life to go fuck itself.
But that’s stupid.
By the age of 7, usually, you understand that Life is also its End. You don’t understand everything it implies, but you understand that it will end someday, and that makes your head spin. . .
Telling Life to go fuck itself is normal, as a knee-jerk reaction, but it’s still stupid. Your job, at that point, is to be mature about it and to integrate this finality.
Besides, Life has weird ways of telling you things.
Take the other night. . .
We were wondering what to watch, and we’ve basically watched everything: even Netflix doesn’t have much we haven’t seen yet.
So I said, “Let’s see what’s new on the Frontline web site.”
The latest episode, I kid you not, was a report called “Being Mortal” on how doctors deal with the topic of their cancer patients’ death. You can’t make that stuff up, and I suggest you watch it, too. It’s a very good report.
People keep saying cancer is a bitch, as a matter of fact, as if it was more “avoidable” than another disease. I get that it’s a commonly accepted stance, but I find it a little cliché.
Cancer is not crueler or regrettable—or avoidable, for that matter—than cirrhosis or gangrene, all things being equal.
When you are dying of something incurable, the cause really doesn’t fucking matter, in the end.
When your dad is dying, you don’t like saying “you fucking moron, if only you hadn’t smoked your whole life”, because you’ve smoked most of your life, too. . .
Besides, the cause really doesn’t fucking matter anymore.
You tell yourself, at least if you’re like me, “I guess that in the end, life is nothing more than weighing the odds”, and you’ve known for a good while now that the odds aren’t in your favour, one way or another. . .
When your dad is dying and you two are barely 20 years apart in age, it shoves your face in the shit pile of your own mortality, especially since you still smoke.
And when your face is shoved in the shit pile of your own mortality, you seriously question yourself.
Oh! I could tell you the story of my life and all the decisions, good or bad, depending on the perspective, but it wouldn’t matter.
Your dad criticized many of your decisions, but he’s—almost—always been there.
He had warned me early on that he had his limits, and I don’t mean the limits of his own mortality, but limits beyond which he would no longer be there simply because my decision was too stupid.
My dad taught me, more or less directly, and mostly by example—the best form of education, is you ask me—to be Myself.
One of the nicest compliment I ever got—and not always as a compliment or by people who liked me—was that I am someone with integrity, someone who always tells it like it is, who never bullshits.
He never accepted—nor gave—any bullshit. He had to make extremely difficult choices in his life and, in the end, he opted for a doctor-assisted death, and the sooner, the better.
“It’s civilized,” he would say, and he was absolutely right. We will realize and accept it as such the more this approach to end-of-life is integrated in our society and its customs.
After spending the last months of his life by his side, as often as I could in person, I learned, no, relearned, many lessons from him.
He’s the one who imparted this sense of integrity on me, integrity being the thing that teaches you not to let people have the better of you just to feed their “insecurity monster”.
Because I’ll tell you this from personal experience: 9 times out of 10, people who don’t like you feel that you’re a menace or a threat to them while in actual fact, you’re just there as is, take it or leave it.
But what scares them, really, is the fact that you fully accept the “or leave it” part of that statement.
But nonetheless, when your dad is dying, you wonder: “Am I as good a dad as he was?”
My dad was not perfect, but he was perfect for me.
He taught me so much, and we shared so many wonderful moments, and music was at the heart of a vast majority of them.
He didn’t say everything, and I’ve often felt he was wrong for not saying everything.
But when your dad is dying, you try really hard to put yourself in his shoes.
And you succeed.
That doesn’t mean you understand everything. You can’t be your dad, even though he’s dying.
Besides, he wouldn’t want you to die, not just yet, because there’s nothing worse than seeing your own child die.
But nonetheless, when your dad dies, you can’t help but to want to go with him.
Except you won’t, because you’ve realized that that’s the point of having children and being someone creative — something your dad has taught you pretty much since you were born:
That’s how you become immortal and contribute to Life.
You leave your mark, and even though your dad is dead, you realize how much he left his mark on the world, and that it’s your duty to do the same and carry the torch. . .
But for fuck’s sake, even though you loved your dad so much that you’ve been preparing yourself for so long—not since the age of 7, surely, but at least since your teens—to the idea that he’s not eternal and will one day be gone, even if you had an actual appointment to accompany him on his last journey and that he made jokes and was being his verbose self to the very last second of his existence—what a man! —, despite all that and all the wonderful things he contributed to the life of so many people. . .
There’s just no words.
Yet, he would probably have found at least a thousand!
I love you Hugues.
There are only two words that are appropriate and say it all: