On Bonheurs partagés, Patrick Norman was very careful not to fall into “the obvious.” Instead of your run-of-the-mill duets album, the peerless guitarist chose to re-visit a different, but equally time-tested formula, by updating lesser-known songs from his vast repertoire. Here’s an overview of those 12 “forgotten” songs the singer-songwriter hadn’t dusted off in a long, long while.

Patrick Norman“Alors la vie” (with Martin Deschamps) —from the album Comment le dire (2007)
“With this as an opener, the album sets out to be one helluva party album! First off, we hear my old Harmony 1953 guitar, which gave a vintage feel to all of the arrangements. The lyrics were written by Roger Magnan, a friend of my good pal Mario Lirette. He gave me those words after one of my gigs, and I immediately loved the peaceful message it conveys. It truly is a hymn to life, and I can’t think of anyone better to sing this with than Martin Deschamps. I love that guy. His lust for life and joie de vivre are contagious.”

Juste toi et moi (with Nathalie Lord) – from the album Comment le dire (2007)
“There’s something very warm and sensual in this song, it makes you totally daydream about palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. That’s partly why I initially wanted to sing it with Gerry Boulet, but that didn’t pan out [laughs]. So I tapped Nathalie Lord, my life partner for quite awhile now. Seriously, she’s an extraordinary woman and I want people to discover her talent, because she deserves to be known and recognized.”

Quand l’amour te tend la main (with Jean-François Breau) – from the album Comment le dire (2007)
“I wrote the music in 1983. The original working title was ‘My Gunfighter Ballad,’ and it was an instrumental. Then, one day, I sent it to Jérôme Lemay Jr., and he got back to me with this wonderful love song. Having the opportunity to sing it again with Jean-François Breau made me really happy. I know that he and his family have been fans of mine for a very long time, and it’s a real pleasure to know that I played a role throughout his musical evolution.”

Comment le dire (with Marie-Ève Janvier) – from the album Comment le dire (2007)
“This is an exceptional song by Danny Boudreau and Roger Tabra, whose very simple goal is to say ‘I love you.’ I guess that’s the never-ending quest of all singers. Constantly finding new ways to express our love as if it was the very first time. I’m proud to carry such a message alongside Marie-Ève Janvier. She sings so divinely.”

S’aimer pour la vie (with Guylaine Tanguay) – from the album Quand on est en amour (1984)
“Originally, this song was much less rhythmic and I’d never sung it in concert. I decided to fix that by giving it more swing. The result is much more luminous and bouncy. Now I just can’t wait to play it live, especially alongside Guylaine Tanguay. She’s a magnificent woman that I’ve known for many years, incredibly talented. ”

Le temps (with François Léveillée) – from the album Soyons heureux (1988)
“It’s quite rare that I write both music and lyrics for a song, but that was the case for ‘Le temps.’ Back then, I was concerned with world peace, and that lead me to ponder the eternal circle of life. It’s only once I was done that I realized all the verses finish with the word ‘aimer’ [‘to love’]. Once again, I was guided by a quest for a better world. As for François, I just had an epiphany while listening to the song. We rarely think of him as a musician and singer, because he’s mostly known as a stand-up comedian, but don’t forget he started his artistic career in the ‘boîtes à chanson’. I gave him a call and everything went super-well. He brings a lot of emotion and credibility to that song.”

Chanter pour rien (with Pierre Bertrand) – from the album Patrick Norman (2000)
“I was in Montego Bay when I got the idea to give this song a reggae twist. I was by the pool and I could hear this groovy bassline from a cover band playing nearby. I started humming some of my songs over their sound, notably ‘Chanter pour rien,’ which worked really well. When I got back home, I called Pierre and he immediately agreed to come out of his lair and sing it with me. It’s somewhat of an homage to his huge hit ‘Ma blonde m’aime.’”

Patrick Norman“Dueling Banjos” (with Jean-Guy Grenier)—from the album Guitare (1997)
“I’ve always been attracted to instrumentals, and that’s why there’s always one or two of them on my albums. Instrumentals move me more because they allow me to write my own story. Jean-Guy Grenier has that same sensibility. I’ve worked with him since 2005; he’s extraordinarily talented. He’s a master of guitar, steel guitar and banjo, and we decided to treat ourselves.”

Les rois de Bourbon Street (with Manuel Tadros) – from the album Passion Vaudou (1990)
“Manuel and I wrote that song together as an homage to the French Quarter, the French neighbourhood of New Orleans. As a matter of fact, the whole original album from which that song comes was recorded in that amazing area of Louisiana. I swear it’s true, but that damn place changed who I am! So, I wanted to re-live that bustling atmosphere and asked Manuel to have at it with me. He’s a great friend of mine, we share a very deep bond.”

On part au soleil (with Virginie Cummins) – from the album Simplement (2004)
“Virginie is an exceptional woman with a magnificent voice and an impressive musical scope. I’d hired her to do backing vocals, but I ended up giving her a chance to sing this song with me. It was written by my super-pal Christian Simard, who passed away last December. I wanted to pay tribute to him by including this song on the album. Without him, I probably would never have had the courage to come out of my bubble back in the day. It’s partly thanks to him that I’ve made it this far.”

Plus fort que le vent (with Paul Daraîche) – from the album Comment le dire (2007)
“Now that’s a magnificent love song by Danny Boudreau. It’s very profound and noble. It wasn’t planned initially, but the song is so intense that we hired a string quartet to complement it, and we ended up using those guys on four songs. Paul graciously and generously agreed to join me for this song. He’s an old pal, and we’ve painted the town red many a time!”

Crois en l’amour (with Laurence Jalbert) – from the album Hommage à Kenny Rogers (1982)
“This Kenny Rogers song has an incredible message. To do it justice, I asked all of the album’s guest singers to sing the last verse with me. I wanted everyone to sing really, really softly, so that no one voice would stand out of the lot. The result was something really soft, yet powerful and very moving. And to top it all off, there’s Laurence Jalbert’s incredible voice. That woman has such a big heart that it’s impossible to not be moved when she sings. There was no one better to round off the album.”