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Canada Day on the Internet


Since it’s Canada Day, I decided to do something a bit different than writing an op ed piece per se, and sticking exclusively to film and TV. Having recently up-graded to high speed internet (after years of a slow dial up) I’ve been checking out yuotube a lot and seeing lots of cool Canadian stuff available to watch. So today, I’m just going to provide a link to various you tube videos to help pass the time on Canada Day. Right click and open a new window so you can easily come back here for the next one.

So, for starters: MUSIC.

I decided to highlight 13 songs by Canadian artists, just in honour of the thirteen provinces and territories that make up the Dominion of Canada. Not that the performers are specifically from each and every province or territory. A lot of these were just impulse selections, hopefully reflecting a variety of artists and styles (albeit within the broad category of “pop” music). I didn’t over think it, or else I would’ve been constantly adding and dropping songs -- and would easily have ended up with a hundred great songs. Actually, even then I ended up with 13 plus 1! And even then added a couple of group efforts as an addendum! Told ya it was hard to make selections.

So, to begin…

“I Want You” by Fefe Dobson. There’s just a fun charm to the youthful exuberance and old school innocence of this song -- harkening to the roots of rock n’ roll. And the video is charming in its unpretentious simplicity. It’s hard to listen and watch this and not feel just a wee bit more chipper.

“Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” by The Four Lads. And speaking of goofy charm, let’s jump back some five decades to the literal roots of rock. I first heard a cover of this quirky song a few years ago, and was pleasantly surprised to learn it had actually been first performed by this seminal Canadian group.

“I Will Give You Everything” by The Skydiggers. A simple melody and lyrics (and a starkly simple video) makes for a haunting, surprisingly beautiful ballad.

“Jolie Louise” by Daniel Lanois. Lanois was already a mega-successful producer of international acts like U2 when he released his solo album -- so it was surprising that given that “cosmopolitan” background, he would put out arguably one of the most archetypically Canadian tune you will ever here on mainstream radio!

“Share the Land“ by the Guess Who. Arguably the Canadian band against which all others must be compared -- I mean, aside from pre-dating most, if you were to remove all the hits by The Guess Who -- as well as Burton Cummings’ and Randy Bachman’s later solo or other group hits (Bachman’s stuff with Bachman-Turner Overdrive) you’d be eliminating half of Canadian pop music. Okay, maybe not half…but pretty darn close. And as a representative of the flower power era on this set list, what better than Share the Land?

“Une autre chambre d‘hotel“ by Gildor Roy. I’ll confess I’m not as up on French language music as I was back when I used to watch Musiqe Plus (and when Much Music used to play more French music). Still, I remembered liking this kind of rock-a-billy tune by actor-singer Gildor Roy, so why not? Plus, isn’t that Caroline Neron as the girl friend in the video?

“Yeah, I Guess” by Poisoned (with Art Bergmann). Back in the day, I once read a piece about Art Bergmann that said his knack was an ability to blend a punk rock attitude…with an ear for catchy pop melodies.

“Rain” by Molly Johnson. I think I was actually just idly looking up something else by Johnson one day (from her rock n’ roll days with the Infidels and the like) when I came upon this sultry tune from her modern, jazz flavoured style -- and it kind of struck my fancy.

“Helpless" by k.d. lang. A Neil Young classic covered by k.d. lang -- so it’s like two icons for the price of one! And -- oh, heck! -- a link to Young performing the same song in the concert film The Last Waltz -- backed up by The Band and, in silhouette, Joni Mitchell...talk about a snapshot of Canadian icons!

“Four Strong Winds” by Ian & Sylvia. As I was running out of slots (‘cause I knew there had to be a limit!) I was kind of flipping a coin between something by Gordon Lightfoot and this classic of Canadiana -- and this won. Though on this version, Lightfoot (and some other familiar Canadian and American performers) join in toward the end.

“Day by Day” by Doug and the Slugs. Now let’s move into the “anthem” school of rock n’ roll beginning with this. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and when life knocks you down, pick yourself up listening to “Day by Day”.

“Children of the World“ by Susan Aglukark, Shingoose, Willie Dunn, Fara, Don Ross. A few First Nations performers collaborated on this, including Susan Aglukark, Shingoose, etc. Aside from being a great tune, it also allows me to squeeze more than 13 performers into my “13 song list”. The link above is to an audio track over a montage. Here’s a link to the actual video (with some slightly different lyrics) but the sound quality isn’t as sharp (and misses the opening of the song).

“Come Together” by The Box. And speaking of feel good anthems, you can’t get more up-lifted than by listening to this song. (And, yeah, that's Sass Jordan as one of the back up singers...before her solo success, and wa-ay before being a judge on Canadian Idol!)

“Who by Fire” by Leonard Cohen. After all that boisterousness, let’s finish off with a slow down, a palate cleanser -- musically speaking -- and Cohen’s moody little dirge.

And finally a couple of tunes which I'm putting outside my "thirteen (plus one) set" grouping. Back in the 1980s, the idea of charity/activist songs by a group of established artists began, including tunes like "Do They Know It's Christmas", "We Are the World" and the overtly political "Sun City", and included the Canadian song "Tears Are Not Enough" by Northern Lights. Jump ahead a quarter of a Century or so and such collaborations still occur when disasters strike, such as the this re-working of the K'naan song "Wavin' Flag" by Young Artists for Haiti. Aside from reflecting an altruistic spirit, the two songs showcase a Who's Who of Canadian music talent from their respective eras (does it date me too much to confess I recognize more performers in the Tears Are Not Enough video than in the Wavin' Flag one?).

And now some COMEDY bits:

Rick Mercer explaining the Canadian political system.

“I’m Glad I Live in Canada” by musical-comedy duo Bowser & Blue.

Colin Mochrie as roving reporter Anthony St. George “apologizing” to Americans on behalf of Canadians from the current affairs sketch comedy series, This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

Dave Foley, of The Kids in the Hall, delivering a monologue on the U.S. sketch comedy, MAD TV, explaining the “differences” between Canada and the U.S.

And how about something from the classic Canadian comedy duo, Wayne & Shuster? How about their justly famous Shakespearian Baseball Sketch -- here's links to a version from, I believe, the 1970s and an alternate, black & white version from I guess the 1950s.

And, of course, the beauty of youtube is everytime you look something up, it also brings up links to lots of other, similar videos -- so indulge.

That's all for now,
The Masked Movie Critic

July 1, 2011

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