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Acadian Driftwood – Canadian’s Best Musicians

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I don’t truly understand what citizens reflect on when considering Canadian music. Do they think about Justin Bieber or The Guess Who? Do they understand that Canadian musicians have influenced the scene in gigantic ways without them being aware? What is my point? I don’t even know. What I know for sure is that people need to be aware of the greatness of music coming from places other than the sanctified United States and Britain.

Whenever I am midway through conversation about music and I happen to mention The Band, the unchanged situation occurs. I have to explain that The Band is the collection of genius that toured with Dylan and recorded The Basement Tapes, and Before the Flood. The band were always more popular with the music journalists and fellow musicians than with the general public. The Band is the group that influenced the influencers. You get me?

Elton John, bless his soul, recorded the song “Levon”. Levon Helm was the drummer and singer of The Band. The Band was Elton John’s preferred group at that time. Furthermore, the album Music From Big Pink is credited with contributing to Clapton’s decision to leave Cream. In his introduction of The Band during the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary concert, Clapton announced that in 1968 he had heard the album, “and it changed my life”, he said. The circle of life. It’s amazing.

Neil Young. Canada’s best export, in my eyes. He is such a beautiful musician it’s unbelievable. He appeared at the Band’s final concert, The Last Waltz. Why do I mention it? Oh, the controversy. He appeared on stage with cocaine all around his nose. Why does it affect anything? It doesn’t, it’s just a story I like to tell. Martin Scorsese, who documented the famous final concert, used his mad 1970’s editing skills to eradicate the controversy. Go Martin!

What is new on the Canadian scene? The Sadies and The Deep Dark Woods are bringing country back. Arcade fire is redefining the indie scene. Not to mention Justin Bieber accomplishing a great deal for popular culture. So when you ask what is Canadian music? Please don’t assume Celine Dion on the Titanic soundtrack or Nickelback playing about Chad Kroeger liking your pants around your feet.

Oh Canada, the true, north, strong and free…

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About Sarah Marshman

  • Cameron

    Wow!! Canadian music exists? I thought everything was American! Thankyou for this fantastic article. Keep on writing!!

  • zingzing

    justin bieber is canadian? oh thank fucking god. that is such a relief. you made my day.

    canadians certainly make their fair share of bad music, but they also make great, great stuff like destroyer, the unicorns, wolf parade, frog eyes, broken social scene, the whole constellation catalog, etc, etc. it was pretty bleak up there for a while, excepting notables like young and the band, but for the last decade or so, canada has been on creative fire.

  • Adrian

    Quality writing, so much knowledge/research, and some funny quips. But if possible, I’d like to hear more of your actual reflections upon the cultural/philosophical impact of groups and people like Arcade Fire or Broken Social Scene or Bieber, and your take on the stylistic nuances adopted by Elton and others from The Band. Awesome stuff though.

  • Sarah

    ZingZing, i disagree with you to a certain extent about Canada having a dry spell. Every decade since the 1950’s, Canada has had at least one significant contributor to popular music. 1950’s- Paul Anka, The Diamonds. 1960’s- The Band. 1970’s- Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. 1980’s- Bryan Adams (Love him or hate him). 1990’s- Alanis Morrisette and kd lang. Perhaps the first half of the naughties has been a dry spell..