O Canada


Top 100 Canadian Songs: The Definitive List

canadaIt's been quite the journey. We kicked off our quest to assemble the greatest Canadian songs in the history of the world back on May 15 and here we are, a month and a half later.

It's unlikely everyone will agree with all 100 choices, many great songs were left on the cutting room floor. This wasn't easy, but I tried to remain objective and take all suggestions to heart. As always, I'd love to read your comments, so don't be shy. Without further ado, here are the top 100 Canadian songs listed in order.

And happy Canada Day, eh?

  1. The Tragically Hip - New Orleans Is Sinking
  2. Neil Young - Helpless
  3. The Band - The Weight
  4. Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
  5. Gordon Lightfoot - Canadian Railroad Trilogy
  6. Stan Rogers - Northwest Passage
  7. Sloan - Underwhelmed
  8. The Guess Who - American Woman
  9. Leonard Cohen - Suzanne
  10. Neil Young - Heart of Gold
  11. Blue Rodeo - Try
  12. Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah
  13. The Tragically Hip - Courage
  14. Barenaked Ladies - Brian Wilson
  15. Cowboy Junkies - Misguided Angel
  16. Arcade Fire - Wake Up
  17. Gordon Lightfoot - Early Morning Rain
  18. Neil Young - Rockin' In The Free World
  19. Rush - The Spirit of Radio
  20. The Guess Who - Share the Land
  21. Blue Rodeo - Lost Together
  22. Death From Above 1979 - Romantic Rights
  23. Our Lady Peace - Naveed
  24. Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)
  25. Blue Rodeo - Diamond Mine
  26. Bruce Cockburn - Lovers in a Dangerous Time
  27. Gordon Lightfoot - If You Could Read My Mind
  28. Five Man Electical Band - Signs
  29. Bachman Turner Overdrive - Takin' Care Of Business
  30. Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown
  31. The Guess Who - These Eyes
  32. Blood, Sweat and Tears - Spinning Wheel
  33. Hayden - Bad As They Seem
  34. Neil Young - Cinnamon Girl
  35. Ian and Sylvia - Four Strong Winds
  36. Joni Mitchell - Woodstock
  37. Rush - Closer to the Heart
  38. Joni Mitchell - Both Sides, Now
  39. Our Lady Peace - 4am
  40. Maestro Fresh-Wes - Let Your Backbone Slide
  41. k.d. lang - Constant Craving
  42. The Tragically Hip - Bobcaygeon
  43. Neil Young - Old Man
  44. Dream Warriors - My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style
  45. Sarah Harmer - Silver Road
  46. Jeff Healey - Angel Eyes
  47. The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic
  48. I Mother Earth - So Gently We Go
  49. Our Lady Peace - Clumsy
  50. Joni Mitchell - The Circle Game
  51. The Pursuit of Happiness - I'm An Adult Now
  52. The Lowest of the Low - Henry Needs A New Pair of Shoes
  53. Ashley MacIsaac - Sleepy Maggie
  54. Robbie Robertson - Somewhere Down the Crazy River
  55. Tom Cochrane - Big League
  56. Rush - Tom Sawyer
  57. Moist - Push
  58. Billy Talent - Nothing To Lose
  59. Rusty - Wake Me
  60. The Northern Pikes - Teenland
  61. Sarah Harmer - Basement Apartment
  62. Sarah McLachlan - Hold On
  63. The Tragically Hip - Wheat Kings
  64. Sloan - Coax Me
  65. Spirit of the West - Home For A Rest
  66. Steppenwolf - Born To Be Wild
  67. Crash Test Dummies - Superman's Song
  68. Stars - Ageless Beauty
  69. The Tragically Hip - Ahead By A Century
  70. The Demics - New York City
  71. Barenaked Ladies - If I Had $1,000,000
  72. 54-40 - I Go Blind
  73. Bryan Adams - Summer of '69
  74. The New Pornographers - Use It
  75. The Watchmen - All Uncovered
  76. Treble Charger - Red
  77. Sam Roberts - Brother Down
  78. Randy Bachman - Prairie Town
  79. Sarah McLachlan - Angel
  80. Tom Cochrane - Boy Inside The Man
  81. Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know
  82. Skydiggers - I Will Give You Everything
  83. Men Without Hats - Safety Dance
  84. Rough Trade - High School Confidential
  85. Hot Hot Heat - Bandages
  86. Corey Hart - Sunglasses at Night
  87. Loverboy - Working For The Weekend
  88. Metric - Combat Baby
  89. Rusty - Misogyny
  90. k-os - Heaven Only Knows
  91. Tokyo Police Club - Nature Of The Experiment
  92. Stars - Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
  93. Rheostatics - Record Body Count
  94. Odds - Heterosexual Man
  95. The Gandharvas - The First Day of Spring
  96. The Diodes - Tired of Waking Up Tired
  97. Feist - Mushaboom
  98. Gowan - A Criminal Mind
  99. Grapes Of Wrath - All The Things I Wasn't
  100. Max Webster - A Million Vacations

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O Canada at Live 8

canadaOne of my YouTube favourites is the closing footage from Live 8 in Barrie back in the summer of 2005. Neil Young closed and Gord, Gordon, Bruce, Steven, Ed, Greg, Jim and other Canadian musicians joined him for Rockin' In The Free World.

As amazing as that was, it got better. Steven Page started to sing O Canada and everyone joined in. It's totally chilling and patriotic and I love it. If this doesn't warm you up for tomorrow, nothing will.


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Best Canadian Movies

moviesHumble Howard says "Bon Cop Bad Cop" is the best Canadian movie he's ever seen. He openly admits that he hasn't seem a lot of Canadian films, but who amongst us has? I can only think of a handful of Canadian movies that I've truly loved.

The first couple of great Canadian flicks that pop into my head are "The Barbarian Invasions" and "The Sweet Hereafter". Then there's "Exotica", "Jesus of Montreal" and "C.R.A.Z.Y." After five whole minutes of deliberation, here are my ten favourite Canadian films of all time.

  1. The Barbarian Invasions
  2. The Sweet Hereafter
  3. Hard Core Logo
  4. Exotica
  5. Saint Ralph
  6. Jesus of Montreal
  7. C.R.A.Z.Y.
  8. Meatballs
  9. The Triplets of Belleville
  10. Sunshine

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A Canadian Quest

canadaIt all started with an email from Jim.

Canada Day is coming up fast. I have never heard of a radio station collecting votes for the best Canadian songs of all time. And of course most of them would be restricted by their own formats (e.g. The Edge doesn't play BTO or Neil Young; Q107 can't play Billy Talent or Sam Roberts). So I got to thinking that your blog might be a good place to collect people's votes for the top 100 Canadian songs of all time.

I put together my own top ten list here, if this inspires others to make their own.

  1. New Orleans is Sinking - the Hip
  2. Heart of Gold - Neil Young
  3. Nothing to Lose - Billy Talent
  4. American Woman - The Guess Who
  5. Takin' Care of Business - BTO
  6. Nautical Disaster - the Hip
  7. Hasn't Hit me Yet - Blue Rodeo
  8. Old Man - Neil Young
  9. 4 am - Our Lady Peace
  10. Tom Sawyer- Rush

Jim

Jim, I now know why God placed me on this earth. I'm supposed to put together the definitive list of the best 100 Canadian tunes. I once wrote about my Ten Canadian Tracks, but this is different. This is the top 100 Canadian tunes of all-time.

Here's how we'll do this. Every couple of days I'll post ten great Canadian tracks in no particular order. Your job is to leave songs you think belong on the list in the comments of these entries, starting with this one. By July 1, I'll have a nice list of 100 to unveil.

It's nice to have a purpose in life.

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The Last WWI Vet

poppyDwight Wilson passed away today. He was 106 years old and he was a veteran of the Great War. That leaves us with one World War 1 veteran, John Babcock.

The First World War ended in 1918. That was 89 years ago. That means Dwight Wilson was 17 when the war ended. John Babcock alone now carries the torch and shoulders a nation's appreciation by his lonesome.

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The Eh Myth Busted

canadaThanks to Bob and Doug McKenzie, we Canadians have always been associated with the expression "eh?". Truth be told, I never say "eh" unless I'm intentionally saying it to fulfil the expectations of the stereotype. We're supposed to say it, so I'll say it for effect. I never say it as a natural part of speech.

A study by University of Toronto sociolinguist Sali Tagliamonte suggests "eh" is leaving Canadian language.

Tagliamonte and her team interviewed 165 native-born, English-speaking Torontonians of all ages to find out how local – and perhaps, by extension, Canadian – English is changing.

The interviews yielded a grand total of 2,272,392 word uses, of which the most common was "I," spoken 114,100 times, followed by "and" at 90,861. The word "like" ranked fifth, at 67,183.

"Eh," however, was used a scant 519 times, accounting for a piddly .02 per cent of the total.

Younger Canadians simply don't say "eh", and I'm guessing that's because they haven't seen Bob and Doug McKenzie and they don't realize they're supposed to. I know Bob and Doug, but do teenagers and those in their early 20s know them? Without Bob and Doug leading the way, it's no wonder we're losing our "eh".

As a result of this study, I'm going to sprinkle more "eh's" into conversations. I'm bringing the Canadian Eh back, eh?

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Remember Vimy Ridge and Rejoice

canadaIn the past, I've written twice about Vimy Ridge. Today, on the 90th anniversary of this victory, I'd like to re-post both entries.

On December 14, 2002, I wrote the following.

If Vimy Ridge was an American success story, Hollywood would be churning out big budget epics on the subject on a regular basis. Vimy Ridge happens to be draped in red and white, and as a result, it's never received the celluloid documentation it so richly deserves. As Canadians, we're almost embarrassed of our successes. Why is that? Americans spin every event into a patriotic landmark of their history while we push the spotlight away from these proud accomplishments. The exception to this is hockey, but hockey is the exception to just about everything North of the 49th parallel.

I just read an article in the Saturday Star that claims our schools are now teaching that the War of 1812 resulted in a draw. Canadian youth are being taught that the United States of America had no choice but to attack, and although we held them off, we certainly were not victorious. The War of 1812 is full of excellent examples of Canadian pride, from Laura Secord to Tecumseh. Why can't we take a page out of the book of Americana and celebrate moments when Canada and Canadians shine brightest? Why aren't I hearing that great Canadian actors are currently filming a movie directed by Norman Jewison or Atom Egoyan based on that day in April 1917 when we as Canadians worked together and captured Vimy Ridge? The story of Vimy Ridge is begging to become a film in the vein of Saving Private Ryan. C'mon Canada. Celebrate the red and white. Make a movie about Vimy Ridge.

On November 11, 2004, I wrote this.

Canadian forces played a very significant role in one of the key massive offensives launched by the Allies in WWI. On Easter Monday, April 9, 1917, the Canadian Corps, four divisions strong and fighting together for the first time, attacked the German army posted on the gently rising slope of land that dominated the Douai plains in the Arras sector of northern France. It was known as Vimy Ridge.

This victory was the seedbed of Canadian identity. We were asked to capture Vimy Ridge, and we did. We did it by working together, Canadian heart can never be over estimated. It was this moment that solidified a very young country.

Visit the Veterans Affairs Canada page on the capture of Vimy Ridge and view photos and video footage. Lest we forget.

Today, I'd just like to say thanks.

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My Ten Favourite Song References to A Canadian Place

cassetteYesterday 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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Canadian Idiot

canada"Canadian Idiot" is the third song off of Straight Outta Lynwood, Weird Al Yankovic's latest parody album. It is, of course, to the tune of Green Day's "American Idiot" and chock full of the typical Canadian stereotypes, eh.

There's no official video, but search for Canadian Idiot on YouTube and you'll find many fan made videos for the tune. Here's one example.

Here are the lyrics.

Don't wanna be a Canadian Idiot
Don't wanna be some beer-swillin' hockey nut
And do I look like some frost-bitten hose head?
I never learned my alphabet from A to Zed

They all live on donuts and moose meat
And they all leave the house without packin' heat
Never even bring their guns to the mall
And you know what else is too funny?
Their stupid monopoly money
Can't take 'em seriously at all

Well, maple syrup and snow's what they export
They treat curling just like it's a real sport
They think their silly accent is so cute
Can't understand a thing they're talking a-boot

Sure, they got their national health care
Cheaper meds for prime rates and clean air
Then again, well they got Celine Dion
Eat their weight in Kraft macaroni
And dream of driving a Zamboni
All over Saskatchewan

Don't wanna be a Canadian idiot
Won't figure out the temperature in Celsius
See the map, they're hoverin' right over us
Tell you the truth, it makes me kinda nervous

Always hear the same kind of story
Break your nose and they'll just say "Sorry"
Tell me what kind of freaks are that polite
It's gotta be they're all up to something
So, quick, before they see it coming
Time for a preemptive strike

Actually, it's dead on. Is it still a stereotype if it's true?

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Canada's Top Athlete

canadaThere's some fierce competition for the Lou Marsh Award this year. Usually there is one or maybe two potential winners, but this year there are four.

Justin Morneau is the American League MVP, Joe Thornton in the NHL MVP and Steve Nash is the NBA MVP. In any other year, you could pick one of those as your clear winner. This year, none of them will win.

Speed skater Cindy Klassen came home from the Turin Olympics with an unprecedented five medals. I'm predicting she'll win the Lou Marsh Award. How do you ignore five Olympic medals?

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