Mags reached out to ask me to do a Canadian Music Expert Quarantine guest post. Which kills me because despite her always calling me that, I’m no expert, just a Canadian who loves her music. Like most of us, it’s a huge factor in keeping sane throughout this pandemic. Mags said to go with my Top 5, which is crazy hard to pick. I’m also gonna assume that most people here are American. There’s a tonne (yep, that’s metric) of huge Canadian bands that you guys already know, so why bother with that? I figured I’d go through the vaults for some lesser-knowns. Well, lesser known south of the border, but to millions of Canadians, these songs are touchstones.
In all the isolation, it’s music we go to – whether we want to cry, groove, remember, or just rock out and forget everything. As the months in lockdown go by, I find more and more I’m going to my comfort tunes – the ones that make me feel happy & safe, or sad & safe, or funky & safe, but always…safe. Like everything’s going to be okay. I hope you fall in love with them, too. And if you don’t – don’t tell me! I can’t take it right now. Wait, like, a year or something.
Here we go!
- Bedouin Soundclash is a Toronto-based alt rock/reggae/ska band that formed in 2001 and after a nine-year hiatus, they’re still (back?) together. They’ve played with everyone from Ben Harper to Bad Brains to Coldplay. They won the 2006 Juno Award (our Grammys) for Best Canadian Music Group. This was their biggest hit, but if you like it, you should also check out Walls Fall Down.
When the Night Feels My Soul (2004):
- Hey, Rosetta! Is one of the few bands that gets to claim punctuation in its name (move over Portugal. The Man)! We’re heading to my beloved Newfoundland for this band. I’m not from there, but I freaking love that place. If you ever want to feel like you’re in Ireland without leaving North America, visit St. John’s, Newfoundland. Not only the is accent similar, music runs through the veins of everyone there. This video is like a tribute to St. John’s and shows so much of what makes it, and its people, unique and beautiful. If you’ve ever seen “Come From Away”, you know the awesomeness of Newfoundlanders. This is also where my trainer, Neil, is from. Who I miss because after a ridiculously hard arm workout when I could barely lift my arms and they were basically flopping around, he would say things like, “Jaysus, Krista. What’re ya doin’? Ya look like a kitten pawin’ shit!”. When there used to be places call “gyms”. In the Before Time.
- I know Mags is a lover of Sloan so hopefully, you will be, too. Though they’ve been living in Toronto for years, they formed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1991. They’re still together, still playing, still releasing new music and they still have the original lineup!! They’re one of the top-selling bands in Canada and have been around for so long that it’s really tough to narrow this down to one song. I went with this one because there’s one line in it that, if played in a Canadian bar, has every person happily yelling out that line. You’ll hear it. We don’t trumpet Canadian pride much, but that line gets our chilly Canadian blood pumping!
The Rest of My Life (2003):
- We’re getting into the way-back machine for Spirit of the West. Like you’d expect, this band is from the west coast – North Vancouver, to be specific. They’re a celtic rock band that formed in 1983, and they stayed together ‘til 2016. But the 90s was really their heyday. This song makes drunken 40-55 yr-old Canadians go INSANE! The dance floor explodes and for those who are either too drunk to dance or can’t fit on the newly exploded dance floor, don’t worry, you can always get in on the pounding-fists-on-tables action.
Home for a Rest (1990):
- Last up is Blue Rodeo. This band is legend in Canada. One of the most beloved bands we’ve ever produced. Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor (both are guitar and vocals) starting playing together in the late 70s and added a few members ‘til they finally coalesced as Blue Rodeo in 1984. They’ve won 12 Juno Awards, have released 15 studio albums, and have sold close to 5 million records. And they’re still together. Again, super hard to choose one song. What I landed on was Lost Together. The first link is Blue Rodeo doing the song. But since we’ve gone into quarantine, the CBC, our national broadcaster, put out a survey asking what song Canadians would like to sing together as a country. Lost Together won hands down. So the CBC asked people to send in videos of themselves singing the song, and Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor participated as well. The second link is people all across the country singing this beloved song, and it makes me happy cry. Which seems like a pretty good closer.
Lost Together (1992):
Canada Sings Lost Together (2020):
See you on the low end!