Toronto Mike

My Ten Favourite Song References to A Canadian Place

Yesterday I wrote about songs that reference Canada.  I promised I'd share my ten favourite musical references to my home and native land.  Here are my top ten with apologies to Stompin' Tom Connors.

"Bobcaygeon" by The Tragically Hip - I'm starting this list with Bobcaygeon because it's a village of 2500 people, nestled along the Trent-Severn Waterway in the Kawarthas area of east-central Ontario, Canada.  Throw in a shout out to Toronto that always gets the loudest cheer during local Hip shows and it can't be left off this list.  Did I mention it's also a spectacular song?

"The Spirit of Radio" by Rush - There are two CFNYs... the "Spirit of Radio" CFNY which sort of died in the late 80s and the "Modern Rock" CFNY that my generation knows.  This song is about that first CFNY.

"Further Again" by Staggered Crossing - I've always liked this song. It's cut from the same cloth as "Little Bones" and opens with the great lyric "Heading out on the 401, don't it make you nervous".  The 401, baby!

"Runnin' Back To Saskatoon" by The Guess Who - This song had to make this list because this tune is home grown.  It's all about Saskatchewan and some town where nothing much ever happens.

"The Old Apartment" by Barenaked Ladies - This song broke around the time Taryn and I were moving into our first shitty apartment.  I dig the tune and the local setting.  They bought an old house on the Danforth for goodness sake.

"Prairie Town" by Randy Bachman and Neil Young - Bachman and Young are jamming about prairie life with that great refrain "Portage and Main fifty below".  It doesn't get much more Canadian than this.

"Wheat Kings" by The Tragically Hip - The Hip get a second mention on this list because "Wheat Kings" is so damn pretty.  It's one of my all-time favourite Hip songs and that's saying something.  It's about David Milgaard and starts with a loon call and even mentions the CBC.  It still gives me chills.

"Helpless" by Neil Young - If you put a gun to my head and made me pick one Neil Young song, this might be it.  Again, it's stunningly beautiful and opens with "There is a town in north Ontario".  Helpless, helpless, helpless.

"Canadian Railroad Trilogy" by Gordon Lightfoot - On the Ask MetaFilter page that sparked this discussion I went on the record by saying "two songs are so drenched in Canadiana your playlist won't be complete without them."  This is one...

"Northwest Passage" by Stan Rogers - This is the other essential song that has to conclude this list of songs that reference Canadian places.  It's a definite sing-along that opens with "Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage".  If you haven't heard this song and would like to, leave a comment below (include your email address, it won't appear on the site) and I'll email it to you.  It's the least I can do for my country.

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