Canada Day 2014 is almost upon us, and there are plenty of preparations to make before that glorious day of BBQ, beer and fireworks arrives. But one thing you don't need to worry about is putting together an appropriate playlist. We got that covered.
These are the best songs ever recorded about Canada, from Gordon Lightfoot's "Alberta Bound" and The guess Who's "Runnijg Back to Saskatoon" to Great Lake Swimmers' 'Your Rocky Spine" and Joel Plaskett's "True Patriot Love" to Kardinal Offishall's "BaKardi Slang" and Drake's "City is Mine."
"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.
"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."
"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)
What’s a Canada Day party without this quintessentially Canadian treat? We trust Canadian chef Chuck Hughes to offer an authentic version. Get <a href="http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/chuck-hughes/chucks-awesome-poutine.html" target="_hplink">the recipe for this at the Cooking Channel here</a>.
Classic red-and-white straws are an easy way to add a festive touch to your decor, especially if you are craft challenged. <a href="https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/124347634/paper-straws-25-red-and-white-striped" target="_hplink">Get these on Etsy</a>.
Show your Canadian pride with a couple of these easy-to-make windsocks hanging from your front porch. <a href="http://www.echoesoflaughter.ca/2013/06/canada-day-wind-sock-craft.html" target="_hplink">Learn how to make these at Echoes of Laughter</a>.
Flag Icebox Cake
You can make this cake the night before in order to save time on the day of your party. <a href="http://www.canadianliving.com/food/maple_leaf_icebox_cake.php" target="_hplink">Get the recipe for this at Canadian Living</a>.
Red And White Parfait
With raspberries and yogurt, this parfait is a delicious way to end your celebratory meal. The tiny maple leafs on top are a cute touch. <a href="http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/food/recipes/canada-day-berry-yogurt-and-granola-parfaits?s=MB" target="_hplink">Find out how to make this at Yummy Mummy Club</a>.
If you really want to wow your guests, make pitchers of the ultimate Canadian cocktail with this homemade Caesar mix. <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/bestrecipes/recipes/best-caesar" target="_hplink">Find out how to get this pitcher at CBC</a>.
Hit up a thrift store for plain white tshirts and make this fun craft with your kids. They can wear their patriotic shirts to your town’s Canada Day parade. <a href="http://workmanfamily.typepad.com/our_life/2009/06/canada-day-shirts.html" target="_hplink">Get the instructions for making these at Workman Family</a>
These sweet versions of our national animal are definitely ambitious, but they’re adorable enough to be worth it. <a href="http://www.canadianliving.com/food/beaver_cupcakes.php" target="_hplink">Get the recipe for making these at Canadian Living</a>.
White Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
We like this festive twist on chocolate-dipped strawberries, with white chocolate instead of the usual dark. <a href="http://www.inthekitchenwithlittlebuddy.com/2012/08/white-chocolate-covered-strawberries.html" target="_hplink">Get the recipe for these at In The Kitchen With Little Buddy</a>.
Which of your guests knows the most about our country’s history? Have a prize for the winner! <a href="http://www.momsandmunchkins.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/canada-day-party.pdf" target="_hplink">Get a Canada Day quiz at Moms and Munchkins</a> — or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/08/13/insane-facts-canada-infographic_n_3748965.html" target="_hplink">check out this infographic to create one of your own</a>.
The origin of nanaimo bars is debated, but the town itself decided that this recipe was the definitive version of the Canadian dessert. <a href="http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/visitors/NanaimoBars.html" target="_hplink">Visit Nanaimo.ca to get the recipe</a>.
We suggest using one of the many <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/06/13/craft-beer-canadian-best-must-try_n_3417205.html" target="_hplink">excellent Canadian craft beers</a> for this chicken recipe. As a bonus, science shows that <a href="http://life.nationalpost.com/2014/05/13/dark-beer-based-marinade-makes-barbecue-grilled-meat-healthier-study-finds/" target="_hplink">beer-marinaded chicken is better for you when grilled</a>!
Themed Board Games
If your crowd is more inclined towards sitting down and having some fun, try playing a Canadian-created board game, like Balderdash or Trivial Pursuit, or even a Canadian version of a classic like Monopoly.
Watermelon Daiquiri Popsicles
Cutesy doesn't have to mean P-G, which is why these maple leaf-shaped ice pops get a hit of booze in them. Make some virgin ones for the kids (just be sure to mark them carefully!). <a href="http://www.onceuponacuttingboard.com/2012/06/watermelon-daquiri-pops-for-canada-day.html" target="_hplink">Get the recipe and instructions for these at Once Upon A Cutting Board</a>.
For guests who want a healthier option (or if you're throwing a Canada Day brunch), these vegan overnight oats will be right on theme (and filing to boot). <a href="http://ohsheglows.com/2010/07/01/voh-canada-day/" target="_hplink">Get the recipe at Oh She Glows</a>.
NEXT: Songs To Play During Your Canada Day Party
A Tribe Called Red - "Electric Pow Wow Drum"
First Nations DJ crew A Tribe Called Red have radically flipped what it means to make aboriginal music, combining modern beats and drops with traditional powwow drums and singing to create something completely new. "Electric Pow Wow Drum" is the signature song for the Ottawa trio.
Bachman Turner Overdrive - "Takin' Care Of Business"
It didn't take long for Randy Bachman to make his mark when he split from The Guess Who in 1970. By 1974 BTO were an established band and "Takin' Care Of Business," their ode to getting things done, was a hard rock hit. Oddly, it was their song "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" from next album Not Fragile that became an international number one.
The Band - "The Weight"
One of the best songs of all-time according to Rolling Stone magazine, this narrative tale from '68 was inspired by Band member Levon Helm's connection to the American Deep South. Artists from Diana Ross to Panic At The Disco to The Muppets have covered it.
Broken Social Scene - "Almost Crimes"
"Almost Crimes" was one of the anchor tracks from Broken Social Scene's 2002 commercial breakthrough album You Forgot It In People. Featuring a pre-iPod commercial fame Leslie Feist, the song helped pave the way for a generation of indie rock collectives.
Stompin Tom Connors - "Sudbury Saturday Night"
Late country legend Stompin' Tom Connors' ode to hard-living Northern Ontario miners remains one of his best known songs. Connors knew the north well, having scored his first big singing break at the Maple Leaf Hotel in Timmins, Ontario, home of Shania Twain.
Constantines - "Nighttime Anytime (It’s Alright)"
No less an authority than Pitchfork considers Constantines 2003 album Shine A Light one of the best of the 2000s. The marquee track for the album was the urgent "Nighttime Anytime (It’s Alright)."
Edward Bear - "Last Song"
This Toronto-based group who had neither an Edward or a Bear in the band, were one of the earliest Canadian acts to sign to a major U.S. label when they joined Capitol Records in 1969. Their 1972 hit "Last Song" reached number one in Canada and number three in the States, their best chart performance.
Helix - "Rock You"
One of '80s most iconic songs, "Rock You," with its helpful lesson "Gimme an R-R, O-O, C-C, K-K, whatcha got?" taught hair metallers everywhere how to spell Rock. Years later Sum 41 would cover the song and start a minor feud with the band.
Andy Kim - "Rock Me Gently"
"Rock Me Gently" was a Billboard number one hit for Andy Kim in 1974. The Montreal musician was a noted songwriter, scoring hits with songs like "Sugar Sugar" for The Archies.
Northern Pikes - "Teenland"
Part of Can-Rock's breakout late-'80s scene, "Teenland" gave Canada its own answer to R.E.M. The band's biggest hit would come three years later with "She Ain't Pretty."
Rush - "The Spirit Of Radio"
One of the all-time classic tributes to the wireless music transmission, Rush's "The Spirit Of Radio" was a worldwide hit from their 1980 album "Permanent Waves." The song was a nod to Toronto alternative radio station CFNY, who were one of the first outlets to play Rush songs.
Sweeney Todd - "Roxy Roller"
Taken from Sweeney Todd's self-titled 1975 album, the glam rock-ish "Roxy Roller" became a number one hit in Canada. Fun fact: Bryan Adams was part of Sweeney Todd when he was 15 years old.
Trooper - "Raise A Little Hell"
Trooper's 1978 arena rock jam "Raise A Little Hell" was the band's only song to become a hit in the U.S. The song was produced by BTO/Guess Who's Randy Bachman.
Neil Young - "Harvest Moon"
Right around the time the music industry was painting Neil Young as the godfather of this newfangled "grunge" movement in 1992 he pulled a swerve and put out the decidedly not-grunge country album Harvest Moon. Young collaborators Pearl Jam have covered the title track during their shows.
The Guess Who - "American Woman"
A North American number one hit for The Guess Who in 1970, this song has been interpreted as anti-American over the years, though songwriter Jim Kale denies that assertion. Lenny Kravitz's 1999 cover of the song hit number three on the rock charts.
Loverboy - "The Kid Is Hot Tonight"
"Working For The Weekend" may get more attention, but leather pant rockers Loverboy's first real hit was "The Kid Is Hot Tonight" from the band's self-titled 1980 debut. Bob Rock, later to become a producer for the likes of Bon Jovi, Metallica and Aerosmith, was an engineer on this album.
Toronto - "Your Daddy Don’t Know"
Underappreciated gal rock act Toronto had a hit with the gals-get-to-cause-trouble song "Your Daddy Don’t Know" in 1982. The song experienced a renaissance in 2003 when The New Pornographers covered it for the FUBAR movie soundtrack.
Red Rider - "Lunatic Fringe"
This 1981 song by the Tom Cochrane-led Red Rider was written to address the wave of anti-Semitism which took place in the late-1970s. Mixed martial arts champ Dan Henderson has used the song as his walkout music before fights.
The Parachute Club - "Rise Up"
One of the pillars of Toronto's innovative Queen Street scene, The Parachute Club's new wave dance track "Rise Up" was a hit in 1983. The self-titled album this came from was produced by future U2 conductor Daniel Lanois.
Payolas - "Eyes Of A Stranger"
This Police-style new wave/reggae song "Eyes Of A Stranger" was a Canadian hit in 1982. Perhaps more notable was that the band, anchored by super-producer Bob Rock and Paul Hyde, also featured David Bowie collaborator Mick Ronson and future Last Gang Records owner Chris Taylor at various points.
New Pornographers - "Mass Romantic"
This title track from indie supergroup The New Pornographers' 2000 album featured Neko Case on lead vocals.The song has appeared in a number of places, including the TV show Queer As Folk and the curling movie Men With Brooms.
Sarah McLachlan - "Good Enough"
"Good Enough" was the third single from Sarah McLachlan's 1993 breakthrough album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. That album would sell almost three million copies in the U.S.
Daniel Lanois - "The Messenger"
"The Messenger" was the lead-off track from Daniel Lanois' 1993 album "For The Beauty Of Wynona." Aspiring mystic rockers The Tea Party would cover the song in 1999.
Handsome Furs - "When I Get Back"
Taken from the band's 2011 album "Sound Kapital," "When I Get Back" chronicles a traveler's need to find their way home. The song was nominated for the 2011 SOCAN Songwriting Prize.
Klaatu - "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft"
This hit 1976 song by Klaatu was inspired by the idea of earthlings trying to contact alien races telepathically. Though written by Canadians and Klaatu band members Terry Draper and John Woloschuk part of the song's success can be attributed to the rumours when it came out that it was a secret Beatles side-project.
54-40 - "Baby Ran"
This track from 54-40’s eponymous second album was a breakthrough college radio hit for the Vancouver band in 1986. It remains the best 54-40 song that Hootie and the Blowfish never covered.
Lee Aaron - "Whatcha Do To My Body"
Belleville, Ontario’s own Lee Aaron, further cemented her status as the Metal Queen with this 1989 single from her most successful album, Bodyrock. The record was nominated for Album and Rock Album of the Year at the Junos and “Watcha” received a nomination for Video of the Year.
Jann Arden - "Could I Be Your Girl"
The sweet, melodic melancholy of this 1994 single from Calgary’s Jann Arden makes the singer’s biggest hit, “Insensitive,” look positively perky by comparison. “Could I Be Your Girl” took home the Single Of The Year Juno in 1995.
Barenaked Ladies - "Jane"
College rock goofballs the Barenaked Ladies named the titular character of this sweet love gone wrong song from 1994 after the intersection of Jane and St. Clair in Toronto. Stephen Duffy, who cowrote the song with BNL singer Steven Page, thought that it sounded like the most beautiful intersection in the world. Page didn’t have the heart to tell him it wasn’t.
Bass Is Bass - "Funkmobile"
“I Cry” is the song that gave North York’s Bass is Base a top 40 hit, but the far superior sing-song jam “Funkmobile” is the song that scored the R&B trio their record deal in the first place. It’s also a lot more fun to break out at parties.
Jully Black feat. DeMarco - "Sweat Of Your Brow"
Canada’s R&B and entertainment show queen, Jully Black, scored her first top 20 hit with this sexy single from her 2005 album, "This Is Me."
Blue Rodeo - "Lost Together"
The title track from Blue Rodeo’s 1992 album "Lost Together" remains a popular and emotional sing-along at the Toronto band’s concerts to this day. And it might just be the best us-against-the-world anthem that roots rock has ever heard.
Skinny Puppy - "Assimilate"
The first track on Skinny Puppy’s first full-length album, "Bites," released in 1985, is one hell of a way to kick off a disc and is the perfect introduction to the Vancouver industrial gods in general. “Assimilate” is Skinny Puppy at their most melodically sinister.
Bran Van 3000 - "Drinking In La"
In 1997, an electro-alterna-rock collective from Montreal called Bran Van 3000 came out of nowhere and conquered the Canadian (and U.K.) airwaves with the irresistibly infectious “Drinking In L.A.” It remains the single catchiest pop song that has ever been written about ennui and career dissatisfaction.
Change Of Heart - "There You Go"
In a perfect world, Toronto indie rock gods Change of Heart would have dominated the airwaves throughout their decades-long career. In the real world, they did have one moment of unexpected top 40 glory. This beautifully delicate little song from their epic 1992 album, Smile, briefly charted in Saskatchewan.