Friday Five: Songs about Canada

Juli Thanki | July 3rd, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, was Canada Day. Hopefully by now you’ve all recovered from your raucous celebration.

Aside from watching Kids in the Hall and drinking mass quantities of Moosehead (or Tim Hortons coffee if that’s your drug of choice), what better way to honor our northern neighbors than with a list of some Canadian country artists singing about the country for which they stand on guard? Happy birthday, Canada. Thanks for all the good music…but you’ve got some explaining to do for Celine Dion.

  • Gordon Lightfoot - The United Artists Collection 5. “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” – Gordon Lightfoot
    You just don’t get more country than a song about building a rail line. “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” is a seven-minute epic detailing the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway during the late 19th century.
  • Corb Lund - Five Dollar Bill 4. “Short Native Grasses (Prairies of Alberta)” – The Corb Lund Band
    Before they became Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans, they were merely The Corb Lund Band. This one from 2002’s Five Dollar Bill, which went gold. Of course, a gold record in Canada is only like 35,000 American records if we’re going by the exchange rate that existed seven years ago. Nevertheless, with lyrics like “The prairies of Alberta, they ain’t never hearda/The things that are keeping you down/And the short native grasses don’t care that the ashes/Of your dreams match their dry shade of brown” it’s easy to see why Lund is one of Canada’s most popular country singers.
  • Paul Brandt - This Time Around 3. “Alberta Bound” – Paul Brandt
    After watching the music video, which features gorgeous Canadian landscape, it’s pretty obvious why a person would want to be Alberta bound. Bonus: Brandt namedrops Ian Tyson, an amazing Canadian country singer (his song “Four Strong Winds,” voted the best Canadian song of all time, has been recorded by Jennings, Cash, and Neil Young).
  • Kathleen Edwards - Asking For Flowers 2. “Oh Canada” – Kathleen Edwards
    Edwards doesn’t mess around here as she takes her countrymen to task for, well, doing stupid crap: racism, white flight, and, uh, non-carpooling. It’s an excellent roots rock song, but the lack of references to Marty McSorley keep “Oh Canada” out of the Number One spot.
  • Hank Snow - RCA Country Legends 1. “My Nova Scotia Home” – Hank Snow
    Snow’s been everywhere, man, but he still had a lotta love for the land of his boyhood (and that’s saying a lot, considering the hard times he experienced there): Nova Scotia is my sanctuary/And I love it so.”
  1. Paul W Dennis
    July 3, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    George Hamilton IV recorded an excellent version of the “Canaidian Railroad Trilogy”

  2. Stormy
    July 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I know its not country, but how could you leave Blame Canada off the list–it was nominated for an Oscar! And it name checks Ann Murray. Don’t get much better than that.

  3. Lucas
    July 3, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Pardon me sir, but is he driving a NISSAN in that video!? A NISSAN!? Not a CANADA-MADE truck!? WHAT!? THIS IS COUNTRY MUSIC NOW!? AH!

  4. Lucas
    July 3, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Never mind, it’s ok…. he has a McPherson guitar. Probably couldn’t afford a homeland-made truck.

  5. Sam G.
    July 3, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Prairie Oyster had a pretty song, “Canadian Sunrise,” a few years ago.

    John Prine sang “Crazy As a Loon,” about a guy who is driven mad by the hassles of life and retreats to the Canadian Rockies.

  6. Collin
    July 3, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    What? No “Lumberjack Song”?

  7. Drew
    July 3, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Nothing beats Tim Hortons coffee.

  8. Stormy
    July 3, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Also no Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen.

  9. Juli
    July 3, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    “Lumberjack” and the RCKY would have been included, but alas, Eric Idle isn’t Canadian and I’m not quite sure of Ren or Stimpy’s ethnicity…wasn’t Ren a Chihuahua?

  10. Stormy
    July 3, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    But there’s still no excuse to leave off Blame Canada.

  11. Paul W Dennis
    July 4, 2009 at 10:39 am

    George Hamilton IV had a hit with a song written by Canadian Ray Griff titled “Canadan Pacific”

  12. Rick
    July 4, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Okay, it may not be country but my favorite song about Canada is “Take Off” by Bob and Doug McKenzie from their “Great White North” album which featured Rush Singer Geddy Lee on vocals. That song was actually a hit on US rock radio back about 1981 and made it to # 20 on the singles charts. I wonder if that was the last time a comedy single got that high on those charts? Hmmm…

  13. Lucas
    July 4, 2009 at 11:39 am

    It’s the 4th…. where’s the America songs article? I expected you guys to write it up at 3AM while I was in a peaceful slumber, but I’ve been let down. Some work ethic! Ha.

  14. Nicolas
    July 4, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    The Canadian one came a couple days late, so the American one might also

  15. Jon
    July 4, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Instead of merely pointing out an Ian Tyson name-check, it might have been nice to include Tyson’s “Summer Wages,” with its distinctly Canadian setting, in the list. Also, check out April Verch’s recording of Mac Beattie’s “This Ottawa Valley Of Mine” on her _Take Me Back_ album, released a couple of years ago on Rounder.

  16. Ben Milam
    July 5, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    take off you hosers. breakfast in hell by slaid cleaves.

  17. Noeller
    July 7, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Paul Brandt’s “Canadian Man” was rather poignant (if not loaded with stereotypes), as it marked his return to Canada after his US deal fell through.

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