In 1955, Filion published his first book of poetry, Du Centre de l’eau, and decided to set his poems to music. In 1958, he won the Grand Prix de la Chanson Canadienne, recorded his first LP with PathéMarconi, Amour, humour et pissenlit, which included many songs inspired by the Quebec folkloric tradition. One such song, La Parenté, was later covered by the Quebec artist Jacques Labreque and became an enormous hit in 1958, selling more than 100,000 copies and making Jean-Paul Filion a household name throughout the province.
On a Canada Council grant, Filion moved to Paris where he spent his time writing, participating in television shows and performing in a number of Left Bank clubs. Returning to Quebec two years later, he wrote music and song lyrics for NFB feature films and Radio-Canada television series. He also wrote numerous radio and television drama series. In 1966, after working with Pierre Perrault on the radio series J’habite une ville, he recorded a second album of new pop or folk inspired songs.
Jean-Paul Filion received the Prix littéraire du Québec for his first novel, Un homme en laisse, in 1963, the Choix du Libraire award for his book Les murs de Montréal in 1978, and the Prix de l’Outaouais for his novel À mes ordres mon colonel in 1983.
Jean-Paul Filion was also a set decorator for Radio-Canada in Montreal and Quebec City for many years. Now retired in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, east of Quebec City, he continues to paint and write, including song lyrics. He recently had a one-man show of 24 of his paintings at Espace Félix Leclerc, on the Island of Orleans (2004), and published his latest literary offering, Paroles du versant nord, with Éditions Écrits des Hautesterres (2005).