After reading Molly MacDonald’s assertion that Canada’s English-singing talent wasn’t putting more effort into singing about Canada’s history, I thought, “Ha! I bet I can prove her wrong.”
Although my two-hour search was by no means exhaustive, it appears that it was I who was wrong. There are a lot of quality Canadian artists putting out music that refers to Canadian culture, but few songs deal with our history. Even Stompin’ Tom Connors’ songs were for the most part historical because of their age!
The lone song that I could that I was sure referred to Canadian History was Sam Roberts’ “An American Draft Dodger in Thunder Bay;” however, there were a number of songs by Sarah Harmer, Susan Aglukark, The Tragically Hip, Classified, Moxy Fruvous and The Weakerthans that could refer, in a poetic, abstract sort of way (Gord Downie – you make good music, but I don’t have a clue where you come up with your lyrics!), to Canada’s past.
So Molly, it seems that you’re right; we need to make some intentional music about Canadian History. I’m thinking we listen to The Guess Who, Sarah Harmer, Sloan, The Hip, Sam Roberts, Sarah Slean, and The Trews for our influences and think about what events have defined each decade since Confederation – that will give us about sixteen songs for our first album. That covers Confederation, every conflict Canada has been in, the addition of new provinces and territories, the expansion of women’s rights, aboriginal rights, and minority rights, prohibition, the evolution of the welfare state… and we can always sing about Prime Ministers if we’re a loss!