The song “Vivre dans la nuit” by Nuance will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on Tuesday, August 10th at 9:00 p.m. during the popular television show BONSOIR BONSOIR on ICI télé. For the occasion, the song will be performed by Fanny Bloom and Patsy Galant in the presence of original band member Sandra Dorion.
Written and composed by the band – Sandra Dorion (vocals), Denis Lalonde (guitar), Mario Dubé (keyboards), Daniel King (drums), and Mario Laniel (bass) – “Vivre dans la nuit”, which spent 16 weeks at No. 1 on the charts, is an anthem for night owls resigned to their fate, a rock lament full of disillusionment. When Nuance released “Vivre dans la nuit” in 1984, a whole segment of the working population identified with the lyrics: Security guards in empty office towers, bartenders who’ve had one too many shots with customers before closing time, strippers who had to deal with the worst in their booth, or cab drivers who have to mop up the spillover of a night of excessive drinking on their back seat – in other words, the people who poets don’t usually write about.
Selling 88,000 copies – a remarkable result, during a difficult period for the French music industry in La Belle Province – the single “Vivre dans la nuit” allowed the Gatinois band to stay on the charts for several weeks. Not bad for a song written under pressure. “In 1983, we went into the studio quickly because our song ‘Amour sans romance’ had been successful on the charts,” recalls Dorion. “We were asked to write another hit as quickly as possible.”
The album Vivre dans la nuit was released later in 1984, including the additional hits “Libre” and “Sans être aimée.” While the masses adored the song, and sang along when it was played live, the intelligentsia of the time mocked its prose – the price of fame, no doubt. Sandra Dorion, now a primary school teacher, remembers the harsh criticism of Nathalie Petrowski, and other columnists, with a twinge of sadness. “We were judged on our language,” she says. “I’m an Anglophone at heart. I come from Aylmer, I taught English… I was asked to sing and write in French with a group that was, after all, Francophone… Obviously, there’s some clumsiness in the writing. I admit it today, I recognize it.” Clumsiness or not, their words resonated strongly. The genuine and lively interpretation leaves a lasting impression.
Rather than being undermined by the bad press, the members of Nuance held on to their two JUNO nominations and three ADISQ awards: Breakthrough of the Year in 1986, Best Selling Single and Francophone Group of the Year in 1987. Nuance launched the album Journal intime, a final effort released in 1988, that sounded the death knell for everyone’s musical career. Or almost.
Only Mario Dubé will continued to work in the entertainment industry, notably as a tour manager. Dorion allowed herself a brief return with the album Sandra telle quelle in 2011, before definitively calling it a day. Mario Laniel is now a computer scientist for the government, Denis Lalonde now sells insurance, and Daniel King has opened a daycare centre. No one, to this day, lives in the night. The members of Nuance work for their livelihoods; they have jobs like everyone else.