Addicted to novelty since 2001

The Great Canadian Song Contest

Speaking of things great and Canadian, over at How
to Save the World
, Dave Pollard (whose theme song might be "Things
Can Only Get Better") is hosting the
Great Canadian Song Contest
. He writes

A few years ago, the late, great Peter Gzowski of the CBC asked
his listeners to nominate the best Canadian songs of all time. He played many
of the nominations on his show, and had a small panel that whittled down the
nominations to a top ten list. I don’t recall all ten, but believe #1 was a
Nova Scotian song called "Rise Again"…To qualify for nomination,
songs must be written and performed by Canadians, and refer at least peripherally
to Canada (see examples below).

An admirable pursuit. He makes several suggestions, and I figured I’d add to
the list. Some of these choices are personal more than populist. Others, I think,
have legitimate shots at making the final twelve, if not winning:

  • "Powderfinger" — written by Neil Young, performed by the Cowboy
    Junkies. I like this convergence of multiple Canadian bands, and this is a
    gorgeous song with very Canadian themes: "Daddy’s gone, my brother’s
    out hunting in the mountains/ Big John’s been drinking since the river took
  • "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" — Gordon Lightfoot. This one
    has to make the shortlist.
  • "A Case of You" — Joni Mitchell. Diana Krall does a nice version
    of this: "On the back of a cartoon coaster / In the blue TV screen light
    / I drew a map of Canada / Oh Canada".
  • "50 Mission Cap" — The Tragically Hip. A tale that merges a long-dead
    hockey hero and World War II flying aces–what’s more Canadian than that?
  • "Good Fortune" — Weeping Tile. I’ve
    written about this song before
    , and it’d probably go on my desert island
    disc: "Explored a cave into the bay /
    Along Canadian shield coast".
  • "Lukey’s Boat" — Great Big Sea + the Chieftains. There needs
    to be at least one Celtic tune from the Maritimes on the shortlist.
  • "Song for the Mira" — A lovely folk song about the Mira river
    in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, originally by Allister MacGillivray but popularized, I think,
    by (gulp) Anne Murray.
  • "Four Strong Winds" — Ian Tyson. It’s been covered by everybody,
    but it’s a great song: "Guess I’ll go out to Alberta / Weather’s
    good there in the fall
    Got some friends that I can go to workin’ for".

In fairness, there ought to be something by The Guess Who on the list, but
I really don’t care for them. What about the Band? Were they all Canadian?

13 Responses to “The Great Canadian Song Contest”

  1. Kyle

    Stompin’ Tom should probably fill at least eight of the top ten slots.

  2. Donna

    “Waiting in Canada” – Jann Arden. Unfortunately, Tourism BC used the song and wrecked it. But it’s still a damn good song.

  3. Lincoln

    Spirit of the West should at the very least be nominated, IMHO. I’m thinking “D for Democracy” or “Far Too Canadian” off the top of my head, and “The Crawl” would be my less-serious nomination…

  4. Dave

    I’d also like to see “Wheat Kings” by the Tragically Hip in there. References to the CBC and Prime Ministers of the past. Pure gold. The theme is distinctly Canadian too.
    Honourable mention to American Woman by The Guess Who. It’s not so much about Canada as about not-America, but the tune is too good to pass up.

  5. Will

    The less obvious but more fitting Guess Who song is “Running Back to Saskatoon”. Any song that mentions the names of towns Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat, and is still a top 10 song clearly qualifies for this list.

  6. alison

    i agree with darren, the Log Driver’s Waltz says it all.

    but wasn’t it the Log Rider’s Waltz.

    anyway, it pleases girls completely.

  7. Janice

    “…the Mira River in NEWFOUNDLAND”??!!
    My husband would choke on his beer if he read that! The Mira’s in CAPE BRETON, b’y, as he’d be quick to tell you…!!
    (And it’s Rita MacNeil’s version of the song that’s the most popular).

  8. June

    I have to make another correction here. Lukey’s Boat is a Newfoundland song. Newfoundland is one of the Atlantic Provinces which includes the three Maritimes Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI. Little geography lesson…:)

  9. Andrew Craig

    What, no Buffy Sainte Marie? I’d nominate Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan; or Soldier Blue

    And I have a soft spot for Black Velvet, by Alannah Miles, though I know that’s terribly unhip.

Comments are closed.