Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Canadian Cover Content #1

Hey, I'm back from San Francisco. More about that in a later post. I'm also testing out a new file-hosting site... let me know if that works okay.

Part of the fun of maintaining a blog is inventing on-going features that may or may not be actually on-going (see: Cover Riddles). Sunday night I caught the Tragically Hip in concert and I've been inspired to add another irregular feature whereby I highlight covers by and of Canadian artists. Our radio stations in Canada are required by the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) to play 35% Canadian content per week in the interests of promoting our uniquely Canadian culture. In other words, so our airwaves aren't hijacked by American pop stars. Usually on the classic rock station this means listening to an undue amount of Trooper, April Wine, Triumph, and Loverboy. Yikes. Of course, we have our homegrown classics like Neil Young, Rush, Joni Mitchell, The Tragically Hip, The Guess Who, and others. Fortunately, our recent exports like The New Pornographers, The Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, and many more indie rockers are starting to get wide recognition over the past few years. I'm under no such obligation to provide Canadian content, but I thought it'd be fun as a Canadian blogger to occasionally wave the maple leaf. So here it goes!

Sarah Polley - Courage [originally by the Tragically Hip]
Canadian actress Sarah Polley would probably be known best for her roles in Go and the recent Dawn of the Dead remake, but most Canadians would remember her best as the child star of Road to Avonlea. I had never even seen Road to Avonlea growing up, but even I knew who she was. Here she sings this haunting, 180° take on the Tragically Hip song. The cover comes from the soundtrack to Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter, which Polley also starred.

The Tragically Hip - Springtime in Vienna
Not a cover, but at Sunday's gig The Hip played one of my favourite songs of theirs, which is from the Trouble at the Henhouse album.

Captain Tractor - The Log Driver's Waltz [originally by Kate and Anna McGarrigle]
You can hardly get much more Canadian than this. Local E-town folk rockers Captain Tractor plug into a little Canadian nostalgia with this cover. Any Canadian kid from the 80's is bound to remember the Log Driver's Waltz and the National Film Board animated short that accompanied it with the light-footed log driver dancing with a beaver and leaping over moose all the while "birling down" the river on a log... I distinctly remember this playing often on YTV in the commerical break between Dr. Who and Ninja Turtles. See the original NFB vignette here. Little bit of trivia: Kate McGarrigle's son is none other than singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright.

Barenaked Ladies - McDonald's Girl [originally by Dean Friedman]
I used to like the Barenaked Ladies back in the day (their first album Gordon was one of my first CDs ever). I haven't really liked much since their second album, but it's hard to believe they're still kickin' around. This early live cover (recorded for radio?) is an old favourite, although I didn't even know it was a cover for years. Some background on the song can be found on the original songwriter Dean Friedman's site.

Fates Warning - Closer to the Heart [originally by Rush]
This is a fairly straight forward cover of the Rush original. I used to hate Rush years ago. I'm not sure exactly when and how, but at some point I became a huge fan. I guess the Canadian Content indoctrination worked!

Until next time, people.

EDIT: Speaking of Canadian Content, I just noticed that Steve's most recent post over at Cover Freak features Canadian Danny Michel's cover of Davie Bowie's Young Americans. In last year's year-end post, I mentioned that this cover was the top cover that I had heard in 2005 (it's actually from Danny's 2004 all-Bowie cover album, Loving the Alien). Now I would not hesitate to say that it is among my top 5 covers ever. In addition, Danny Michel's original material is top-notch and I'd say he's is one of Canada's most underrated singer-songwriters. If you ever get a chance to see him live, he puts on a great show. So head on over to Cover Freak and download it while you can. He's also posted another one of my fav's: Gina Jeffries' amazing version of Creep, a great cover of the over-covered Radiohead song. Great post!

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