Sunday, 1 July 2012

Crooning the medium

I have discussed the rather surreal experience of Canada Day in the Nation's Capital in this blog before. It's been four years, so little has changed. The flags go up about three weeks before the holiday, and today, everyone -- I mean everyone -- is dressed in red and white. Luckily, both the Accent Snob's harness and leash are scarlet, though I did attach a maple leaf button for emphasis.

I thought it would be fun to take a little tour through Canadian popular music in honour of the day, but there's actually a helluva lot of great Canadian music, so I'm limiting it to five songs I rather like and the only connecting theme (aside from their "Canadian-ness") is geography; each artist comes from a different region of our rather large country.

Let's start with someone with roots in the seventies, Gino Vanelli from Montreal, who had a number of rather overproduced hits featuring his huge mane and equally hairy chest. By the 1980s, he had pared down his locks and sound. His chest hair is still very visible, but he evidently lost it for his alter-ego; the woman who drives in (literally) to this gay bar is also Vanelli. Well, he was a very pretty man. Also straight, from what I can tell.

Next, with one international hit ("Echo Beach"), come Toronto's Martha and the Muffins. If you don't live in Canada, you'll probably never have heard any of their other songs. This one was a hit in Canada and a salute to Canadian communication theorist Marshall McLuhan:
Marshall McLuhan, you may recall, had a cameo in Annie Hall:
My question is, if films are supposed to be a hot medium and television is a cool medium, what happens when you watch Annie Hall on television?

Sorry. Where was I?

Ah the West Coast! Barney Bentall was born in Toronto and grew up in Calgary, but this song sounds like the West Coast to me, and indeed, the Legendary Hearts did come out of Vancouver:
I love this song, so you can imagine how disappointed I was to hear Madison Violet's recent cover of it, which changes "Bobby" to "Joanie". Madison Violet is a perfectly talented duo, capable of writing their own decent songs. They should have left this one alone. You can listen to their version here, if you'd like tips on how to suck the life out and blunt the edges of a classic.

Moving on.

This song, by the ridiculously pretty Chantal Kreviazuk who was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, pulls me back to 1999, the year before we left Victoria:

Is she as pretty as Gino Vanelli?

To finish off, let's go to the East Coast where elder daughter spends most of her year, so let's make it a relatively current number from Joel Plaskett, born in Lunenberg and raised in Halifax. This video screams "Nova Scotia!!" at me, and I just love this song:

Nothing from the territories or Newfoundland, I'm afraid, there's great music there, but I'm running out of time. Fireworks at Capital Hill in about half an hour, and if I trot down to the right street, I'll get a glimpse of the larger and higher ones.

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