Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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A Canadian music challenge for you

PIcked up this great collection of Canadian music today at Starbucks to add to the Canadian Studies Program‘s media library. There are only a few tracks on here that I don’t already own myself, but I was enticed by the lovely packaging as much as by the fine choices of music made by Starbucks.

I also really liked their description of Canada and its music on the back cover: “United less by a common sound than a shared spirit, Canadians from the rock, jazz, and folk realms have made their mark with music that reflects the heartiness, humor and coast-to-coast diversity of their homeland.”

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the list of tracks is a bit conservative, but I think they strike a good balance of artists with whom Americans are familiar and those who will be pleasant surprises to them. Here’s the track list for “Northern Songs”

1. Feist – “Mushaboom”

2. Pilot Speed – “Knife-Grey Sea”

3. Cowboy Junkies – “Sweet Jane”

4. The Band – “The Weight”

5. K.D. Lang – “Constant Craving”

6. Rufus Wainwright – “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk”

7. Sarah McLachlan – “Angel”

8. Ron Sexsmith – “All in Good Time”

9. Kate and Anna McGarrigle “Entre la Jeunesse et la Sagesse”

10. Great Lake Swimmers – “Your Rocky Spine”

11. The Be Good Tanyas – “Ootischenia”

12. Broken Social Scene – “Swimmers”

13. Holly Cole – “I Can See Clearly Now”

14. Diana Krall – “Temptation”

15. Leonard Cohen – “Anthem”

As I said, this is a pretty good list. If I had to choose 15 songs to represent Canadian music, though, I’m not sure if any of these tracks would make the cut. As I ponder just what my list would look like, I thought I’d pass this along to you, dear reader. What songs would you pick if you wanted to create a compilation of Canadian music that represented Canada’s best and brightest while still representing “the heartiness, humor, and coast-to-coast diversity of their [or our!] homeland”?

Post your 15 songs in the comments below or, better yet, write about your choice on your own blog and link back here. Let me know you’ve posted on your blog, so that I can link to it from here as well.


1 Chris P { 09.17.08 at 3:59 pm }

That was actually a fun late night activity. My list is at my blog ( and comes with videos of said choices.

2 P. Neal { 09.17.08 at 8:17 pm }

I’ll have to think a while to work out a full 15, but here are a few of my candidates, with early 80’s music over-represented because I lived in Toronto then….
#1 for me has to be Neil Young’s “Helpless”; I loved that opening line long before I knew where Northern Ontario was….
Tragically Hip, “The Hockey Song”…..
Leonard Cohen, so many to choose from….
Stompin Tom Connors, “Hockey Night in Canada”….
Parachute Club, “Rise Up”…..
Max Webster, “Go for a Soda”…..
Martha and the Muffins, “Echo Beach”…..
Carole Pope and Rough Trade, “High School Confidential”…..
Rush, I never liked them but how can they not be on the list? The song with “Tom Sawyer” in it….
Theme Song from “The Littlest Hobo”, a truly great Canadian TV show……
I need to think some more….

3 Leon { 09.28.08 at 2:03 am }

“The hockey song” by tragically hip has to be way towards the top of the list. While not classics I’d also slide in “Reasons” by the Weakerthans, Singles by Lowest of the Low, Sum 41, and Treble Charger. And of course Avril Lavigne!

4 Scott { 10.29.08 at 2:10 pm }

Hey, great list. Next time you make one, you could actually embed the songs in a widget mp3 player like Muzicons so even if someone hand’t heard one, they could take a listen!

5 song structure { 10.20.09 at 4:44 pm }

Don’t forget Bryan Adams!!!

6 Chuck { 11.25.09 at 10:16 pm }

Anne Murray is one of if not the very best. My opinion. Shania Twain. Yes agree completely with K.D. Lang. Thanks Chuck.