For reasons I do not understand, The Globe & Mail feel that these 10 songs are representitive of the Canadian Soul and are the finalists in the contest to choose the best Canadian song of all time. (Edit: Actually, it appears it is organized by Luminato)
I’m glad they said best Canadian song of all time and not just of historical time because – though I like each of these songs for different reasons – judging by this list the best Canadian song has not been written yet.
Kidding aside, it is hard to take a list of Great Canadian Songs seriously if it does not include the quintessential Canadian folk song Four Strong Winds by Ian Tyson.
If you pointed a gun at me and told me I had to pick one off this list or else, I still couldn’t do it.
I have a hard time seeing these songs as particularly or even partially representative of the Canadian Soul.
For example, Leonards Cohen’s Hallelujah is an incredible songwriting achievement but it’s purview is far, far more than the spirit of Canada. It is a great song but it does not belong on this list.
Helpless? What a bummer. That song may reveal a slice of a certain aspect of Canadian life but it is not even mariginally representative.
The Weight? You’re kidding me, right? I don’t care where Robbie was the day he was born, that song is as American as you can get.
When I wrote ‘The Weight’, the first song for ‘Music From Big Pink’, it had a kind of American mythology I was reinventing using my connection to the universal language. The Nazareth in ‘The Weight’ was Nazareth, Pennsylvania. It was a little off-handed – ‘I pulled into Nazareth’. Well I don’t know if the Nazareth that Jesus came from is the kind of place you pull into, but I do know that you pull into Nazareth, Pennsylvania! I’m experimenting with North American mythology. I didn’t mean to take sacred, precious things and turn them into humour.
Cuts Like A Knife? What?!?
Ok. It is obvious that those who created this list have confused songs written by Canadians with songs that are indicative of the Canadian identity.
My earlier jest may be the truth: The song in question may not have been written yet.
Updated – If the requirement is simply that the song must be written by a Canadian – well, what can I say – if I were to compile such a list I am pretty sure none of these 10 songs would be on it.
Updated – Ok. I guess I should proffer a few suggestions based on the criteria of a writer holding (at the time the song was written?) Canadian citizenship. I need to think about this so I will assemble the list slowly, in no particular order, starting with:
1) Both Sides Now – Joni Mitchell
I believe Joni’s early creation is one of the most beautiful and finely balanced songs ever written.
2) Four Strong Winds – Ian Tyson
3) Suzanne – Leonard Cohen
Update: Still thinking………..zzzzzz………..