James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Canada Day!

Although born in the USA, a substantial portion of my childhood was in Canada before my family moved back in my later youth. One advantage of that is I wasn't raised being forced to recite that godawful Pledge of Allegiance. Another advantage is that, proud of retaining my American citizenship throughout, I actually tried to learn what I could about my own native land outside of school hours. It was also healthy to understand how people in other countries, even those close to the USA such as Canadians, felt about America and American foreign policy.

I also enjoyed the benefits of Canadian federalism and the Canadian parliamentary form of government. Some things were really dumb from an American perspective, but other things were favorable. In any case, I love Canada and tend to cheer for its national sports teams over American teams. If pressed, I'd say the rules of Canadian football are better than the rules of American football.

(It's easier, psychologically, to live in a country that accepts unlimited government in theory but limits it in reality, than to live in a country based on limited government in theory but unlimited government in reality.)

In any case, to celebrate Canada, here a list of thirteen favorite songs from Canada or about Canada. Note: Neil Young and Joni Mitchell are excluded because I don't think any of their great songs were written until after they moved to the USA, and their "Canadian-ness" was known only afterwards. These recordings, as far as I'm aware, originated in Canada. If you haven't heard a song, I hope you like it!

13. Misguided Angel, Cowboy Junkies:

The beauty and sound of this song requires no explanation.

12. Mimi on the Beach, Jane Siberry:

The melody frequently pops up into my head, a quarter-century after I heard it, and I rarely heard it even then.

11. Turn Me Loose, Loverboy:

Never thought of myself as a fan of Loverboy, but it seemed to do everything right on this one. When it comes on the radio, I turn it up.

10. Vimy, Tanglefoot.

I heard this long after I moved back to the USA, but how can it not move anyone?

9. Spirit of Radio, Rush:

Not a fan of this band either, but in this song I really appreciate their sound and what they're trying to do.

8. Storm Before the Calm, Luba:

Like "Mimi on the Beach" above, this tune still comes up in my head frequently, well over twenty years since I last heard it.

7. Real Enough, Doug and the Slugs:

This group had several hits in Western Canada in the 1980's. You might have heard "Too Bad," but this is my favorite.

6. Secord's Warning, Tanglefoot:

I think this is the only flagrantly "anti-American" song in the bunch, and it's anti-American for good reason: the Americans invaded in the War of 1812, "trying to save us from ourselves."

5. No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature, The Guess Who:

This group produced a dozen masterful hits that are in rotation in hundreds of classic rock radio station playlists nationwide. This is something most members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can't boast, yet, like Rush, The Guess Who is still not a member. (I personally wouldn't call this omission a disgrace, I'd rather call the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a joke - a bad joke.)

4. If I Had $1,000,000, Barenakes Ladies:

In the States, it's macaroni & cheese; in Canada, it's Kraft Dinner. The flavor and tone of this song is uniquely Canadian (the version here has the original studio version but the video was created by someone else.)

3.Oh... Canada, Classified:

The video, shot apparently in Halifax, is apparently the whitest place on earth; Canada is much more diverse. But this song and video are just brilliant.

2. Heart Like A Wheel, Kate & Anna McGarrigle:

This song was popularized by Linda Rondstadt; the original songwriters, two sisters from Quebec, were masters of North American folk.

1. Did She Mention My Name, Gordon Lightfoot:

This song gets to the heart of life in Canada, when the ice is on the river, when the smiles of the pretty girls in the fall put the sun to shame, etc.


  1. The Rush clip shows the wrong album cover.

  2. Sandrahess10:49 PM PDT

    It's really amazing video clips are there. I absolutely your videos. Thanks for the info! now i can travel to there knowing more than a bit.


  3. Great post! Thanks @Sandra for sharing concerti.tv