Heather O'Neill's musical tribute to Montreal's Plateau

Author of The Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O'Neill takes us on a musical tour of Montreal's Plateau.
Author Heather O'Neill (The Canadian Press)

In a segment we call the q Block Party, we invite guests to pay musical tribute to the neighbourhoods they hold dear to their hearts. 

Today, author Heather O'Neill takes listeners on a guided musical tour through Montreal's Plateau.

Take a listen below to O'Neill's full musical ode to historic Montreal through the songs of musicians who also hold the city close to their hearts.

Arcade Fire, Sprawl II

"The Plateau is a mecca for artists and that's what the song is about. Growing up as an artist you feel isolated and you feel like a lunatic. You're always writing in notebooks, doodling, playing the flute. Nobody quite prepares you for the scorn that you'll face once you make a decision to be an artist, and that's the reason that artists always seek each other out."

Leonard Cohen, Bird on the Wire

"I'm choosing a Leonard Cohen song because he's the granddaddy hipster that we all looked up to on the Plateau. He lived a life entirely by his own standards and achieved artistic freedom as a result. When he died we all laid roses at his doorstep and sang his songs together in the street."

Wolf Parade, I'll Believe in Anything

"This song is about courtship on the Plateau. If you decide to become an artist, you're not going to have the same economic security as other people so you have to win the object of your affections over by your charm, you have to make a short film about the existentialism of an orchid and dedicate it to them."

Patrick Watson, Big Bird in a Small Cage

"The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a great love story but I never had a great love affair in my life. All my own relationships have been on and off and fragile and uncommitted affairs but I will say with certainty that the Plateau is the love of my life."

— Produced by Cora Nijhawan

​Miss an episode of CBC q? Download our podcast here.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?