I simply wanted to check-in with our neighbors from the North and thank you for your contribution to music history, plus my own personal music history. In my youth, I would spend endless hours listening to music and dissecting every song and note of my recent discoveries. Music and Canadian music was influential in my youth and still provides me with hours of entertainment and joy today.
Unknown to me, many of those albums I would engulf myself into were Canadian artists! I would bet 9 out of 10 Americans would know Neil Young, but would the same number know that he was Canadian? The likely ratio; 1 in 10 might know his origin. Not to overstate it, but Neil Young was Canada’s greatest export, ever; thank you for that gift. Many other musical greats were exported in those earlier years of Rock’n’Roll such as, The Band, Rush, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, and The Guess Who. How can you not watch the Last Waltz with the Band from beginning to end without stopping? I would say it’s nearly impossible.
The 90’s drew another round of great musical exports during an angst renaissance of music in North America which provided the grunge and alternative eras of music. Bands such as Sloan, Cowboy Junkies, Our Lady Peace, and Rufus Wainwright were hitting college radio stations in America. Angst was the term of that decade and Alanis Morissette and the Tragically Hip sure had that edge! Why was Alanis so angry? Gord Downie was an ironman of music (rest in peace, Gord; he passed this last October); apparently Canadians love to brag that 9 of 10 homes own a Tragically Hip album.
Not all Canadian music flew under the radar here in America, most notably were those examined above, but there were many nondescript bands that I was privy to grow to love. Let’s start with Arcade Fire; a band I’ve seen live more times than I can remember, but most importantly seeing them live at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis in a space that held about 100 people was my absolute favorite experience. I have several all-time favorite bands that I’m sure to find time to see live and buy their new music as released; these are too many to list, but I’ll try: The New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene, Wolf Parade, Neko Case, Tegan and Sara, Feist, Metric, Tokyo Police Club, Hot Hot Heat, Handsome Furs, Stars, Sunset Rubdown, Great Lake Swimmers, Sam Roberts, Islands, Death from Above 1979, the Weakerthans, Spencer Krug, and the Constantines, to name a few.
It seems that the explosion of file sharing ultimately led to a mass availability of music here in America that allowed for the discovery of great Canadian music. This dismantling of corporate radio has brought America an explosion of amazing music. However, you can still find your corporate gold records by turning on your favorite Top 40 radio station and listen to the likes of; Nelly Furtado, Avril Lavigne, Michael Buble, Drake, the Weeknd, and Justin Bieber. This American would prefer to stick to finding the aforementioned diamonds in the rough that Canada continues to humbly export.
Joshua F – Loram Maintenance of Way