Canada Day is coming and bringing with it one of the best long weekends of the year.
But long weekends need more than sun, suds, friends and food — they need an awesome soundtrack, too. So we racked our brains (and perused our playlists) to come up with this list of 25 songs to set the mood this Canada Day long weekend.
Rather than picking the best songs by Canadians, for which we would need an entire Canada Month, we selected songs that were the most evocative of our country, our history and other things that are quintessentially Canadian.
Oh, and we put them in order, too. The classics, Neil Young, Stompin' Tom, Gordon Lightfoot, are all there, but you might be surprised at what we picked as our number one song abut Canada.
Did we miss any? Of course we did! So give us your suggestions in the comments and we will add it to the reader picks section at the end of the playlist.
"The Day We Hit The Coast" Thrush Hermit
Before Joel Plaskett went solo, his band <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrush_Hermit" target="_blank">Thrush Hermit</a> was one of the best this country ever turned out. But they had terrible timing. They got signed by a U.S. major label when Halifax was briefly the next Seattle, then abandoned when alt-rock receded the same year their album came out. <P>They responded in 1999 with the riff-raging classic <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clayton_Park_(album)" target="_blank">"Clayton Park,"</a> a high-water mark for CanRock which was as accessible to jean-jacketed rockers, urban hipsters and '70s rock-raised adults alike. But the album got ignored by radio because it was released on an indie a couple years before Canadian indie music was cool. <P>So you admittedly may not know this rock tune, but it is, in our view, the greatest song about Canada ever made. Written about the band's experiences touring the country, the lyrics describe crossing prairies, going up and over the mountains and the "cool, cool breeze/blowing cool off Lake Louise." But the most joy is reserved for the moment these east coast kids meet the Pacific Ocean. Oh, and the video has them performing in a snow-covered forest just in case it needed more Canadiana.
"Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)" Arcade Fire
Canada is not just a confederation of places, but also a collection of events and stories. For those in eastern Ontario, Southern Quebec and Nova Scotia who experienced the <a href="http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/macleans/great-ice-storm-of-1998" target="_blank">Great Ice Storm of 1998</a>, it became a defining moment in their lives, but each in a uniquely experienced way. This third edition of <a href="http://www.arcadefire.com/" target="_blank">Arcade Fire</a>'s neighbourhood songs uses the ice storm (during which Régine Chassagne was trapped in Montreal darkness for a week) to provide a structure for a metaphorical exploration of growing up.
"Canadian Railroad Trilogy" Gordon Lightfoot
When I was a kid out in B.C. I lived near the railway tracks that hugged the coast. Now, in Toronto, I again live near that tracks. Many, if not most, of us do. The railway was what stitched this enormous nation together and our greatest troubadour <a href="http://www.lightfoot.ca/" target="_blank">Gordon Lightfoot</a> gives it is due in this classic folk songs about the construction of "an iron road runnin' from the sea to the sea." For extra patriot points, it was commissioned by the CBC for a Jan 1, 1967 special commemorating Canada's centennial year.
"One Great City!" The Weakerthans
Yes, the song's chorus is "I hate Winnipeg," but the title (snarkily borrowed from a local civic pride slogan) and loving detail reveals the heart beneath the hate. After all, we've all at times harboured ill will toward our hometowns, especially when we were young and bored and eager start our lives somewhere, anywhere, new. But we adore them, too, and that love-hate relationship to where we're from is impeccably presented here.
"BaKardi Slang" Kardinal Offishall
Hip-hop has always been about hometown pride, since back in the earliest days in the Boogie Down Bronx. But early Canadian rap tried to crossover by covering over its roots. Not Kardi's ode to Toronto's peculiarities of street language which also happened to popularize the city's nickname, Tdot, and shot its video in hoods like Regent Park and Jane and Finch. <P>Released in 2000, it was his first to crack the U.S. Billboard charts and to make Canada's top 40. It also single-handedly made it safe for Toronto rappers, including eventually Drake, to rep their town.
"Fireworks" The Tragically Hip
Like Stompin' Tom, one could slot almost any Hip song into a list like this and make an equally defensible argument, but this one gets the nationalism nod because of its lyrics about the <a href="http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=640724" target="_blank">1972 Summit Series</a> and the "the goal heard around the world." Oh, and also because it's Canada Day and the song is called "Fireworks."
"Sudbury Saturday Night" Stompin' Tom Connors
Connors spent his life criss-crossing the county with a six-string in his hand and spent his career telling the stories of the Canadians he met everywhere he went. But "Sudbury Saturday Night" wins its place here because back <a href="http://music.cbc.ca/#/blogs/2013/6/Stompin-Tom-Connors-and-the-legend-of-the-Sudbury-Saturday-Night-CBC-Beetle-Roadtrip" target="_blank">when he was known as Tom Connors</a> he got hired to play a tavern called the Townehouse and wrote the song to entertain the crowd. They kept talking anyway, so Connors started stomping his cowboy boot on the stage to get their attention. And a legend was born.
"Oliver Square" Cadence Weapon
"Yo, it's corrupt where I'm from, Edmonton" is not a lyric one is used to hearing in hip-hop. But Cadence Weapon's early single about his teenage hangout is rife with rich detail of the oil town and sent a message that there were rappers outside Tdot and Van City, too. Cadence would later be named Edmonton's Poet Laureate.
"Summer Of '69" Bryan Adams
This may be cheating, because Bry isn't specifically referencing a Canadian place, but whatever, he was only 9 in 1969. I picked it because at a Canada Day concert in Ottawa in the 1990s, Great Big Sea started playing the song's opening licks and the crowd of about 15,000 sang the lyrics in joyful unison like it was a national anthem. And, well, it kinda is.
"The Canadian Dream" Sam Roberts Band
We grow up hearing all about the American Dream, so Sam Roberts decided to write our own national reverie, which he roots in things like our universal healthcare system. "S.O.CI.A.L.I.S.M. is here to stay / S.O.C.I.A.L.I.S.M. is the only way, hey," he sings, albeit also worrying that the dream may be slipping away. The song gets extra Canadiana points for being left off the U.S. version of the album despite the label trying to deflect criticism by claiming: "Sam isn't trying to pass himself off as some Commie radical. He's just the kind of guy who, when he sees a brother down, lends a hand to pick him up. It's a socialism based on love and respect, not taxation."
"City Is Mine" Drake
"The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead" Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy - The CN Tower Belongs To The Dead from album "Has A Good Home"
"Hello City" Barenaked Ladies
Barenaked Ladies-Gordon-Hello City
"Helpless" Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Track 4 from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 1970 album Deja Vu. Credited to Neil Young.
"Montreal -40°C" Malajube
Gorgeous video clip by Malajube from their album "Trompe l'oeil" Super vidéo de Malajube tiré de "Trompe l'Oeil". www.malajube.com www.daretocarerecords.com ...
"Pine For Cedars" Dan Mangan
Off his album Nice, Nice, Very Nice! Visit our channel or http://UGottaHearThis.blogspot.com for more great indie artists!
"Northern Touch" Rascalz
Rascalz ft. Kardinal Offishall, Thrust, Checkmate, Choclair - Northern Touch Directed by Little X.
"Running Back to Saskatoon" The Guess Who
Superb Live at The Seattle's Paramount, May 1972.
"Trans Canada" The Constantines
The Constantines - Trans Canada.
"Escarpment Blues" Sarah Harmer
Live on CBC.
This song was on the original unreleased version of the Grow Up and Blow Away album.
"The Vancouver National Anthem" Matthew Good
Music video by Classified performing Oh...Canada(V2). (C) 2010 Half Life Records Inc.
"The Rest Of My Life" Sloan
"Your Rocky Spine" Great Lake Swimmers
Ian and Sylvia - Four Strong Winds (Suggested by brm74)
Moody Manitoba Morning - The Bells (Suggested by 1canview)
Rush, Lakeside Park (Suggested by Riekie Schumacher)
Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie - The Toronto Song (Suggested by Dane Woychuk)
Stan Rogers, "Northwest Passage" (Suggested by StephenMaturin)
"Ballad of Wendel Clark Pts 1 and 2" Rheostatics (Suggested by StephenMaturin)
"Alberta Bound" Gordon Lightfoot (Suggested by JohnDewey)
"Big-Boned Gal From Southern Alberta" kd Lang (Suggested by JohnDewey)
"Piney Wood Hills" Buffy Sainte Marie (Suggested by JohnDewey)
Blue Rodeo - "Montreal" (Suggested by StephenMaturin)
'The Beaver Song" Robin Sparkles (Suggested ruth 86)
"Canada Is" Roger Whittaker (Suggested by Sharon Lyons)
"Life is a Highway" Tom Cochrane (Suggested by @MelissaFeeney)
"Spadina Bus," Shuffle Demons (Suggested by StephenMaturin)
"Canada," Bobby Gimby (Suggested by Dennis Sells)
The Arrogant Worms - The Last Saskatchewan Pirate (Suggested by
"True Patriot Love" Joel Plaskett (Suggested by Michelle Butterfield)
"The Maple Leaf Forever" Michael Bublé
Gaye Delorme - The Rodeo Song (Suggested by brm74)