The good people over at CBC Music have put together a list of some of the best songs in Canadian history. While any best of list will inherently depend on factors such as taste, popularity, and other subjective matters I have to say that I like their list. Personally I would have (for example) picked a different Arcade Fire song for their top piece and the best K.D. Lang song to me is without a doubt Hallelujah (even though written by Leonard Cohen) but that’s nitpicking what is ultimately a list of some fantastic songs. You can find the list in its entirety here: The 100 Best Canadian Songs Ever which has been created after they put together a list of the 100 Greatest Canadian Albums Ever. (Spoiler alert: if you don’t want to know the top songs from the lists before reading through it, now would be the time to check out the source material.)
If you aren’t familiar with these songs or artists, why not check out the cream of Canadiana through Windsor Public Library? We’ve got books, CDs, and downloadable music featuring some of the best songs in history – from any country. If you want to explore Canadian music history, WPL can help. We’ve got many of the the best ever, and this post here is to help you explore.
The greatest ever lists include many from both past and present, and we’ve got the artists and music covered. We’ve got a book on the Arcade Fire, called Behind The Black Mirror. We also have their music CDs including the acclaimed The Suburbs album and more. If Gordon Lightfoot is more to your taste we’ve got loads. There are his fantastic albums on music CD which includes his greatest hits and more. Books by the man himself, including If You Could Read My Mind. He also shows up in Whispering Pines The Northern Roots Of American Music From Hank Snow To The Band By Jason Schneider as well as the DVD Tower Of Song: an Epic Story Of Canada And Its Music.
The Tragically Hip are one of my personal favourites, and if you ever get a chance to see them in concert I’d strongly recommend it. Freegal has their version of Black Day In July (about race riots in Detroit) and it’s a powerful cover that lives up to the original (find it here). Fully Completely was named as the fifth best Canadian Album of all time. If you’re in for a helping of the hip, check out some of their CD’s from our collection.
You know they’re great when they can by the simple appellation of The Band. CBC listed Music from Big Pink (from 1968) as the third greatest album in Canadian music history. If you want to explore the work of this supergroup, you’ve got options. You can legally download (and keep) some of their work with our free music collection Freegal. We have got their CD’s such as The Best of the Band VOL II. You can check out The Last Waltz which is a downloadable video of their last concert (from 1976.) If you like the band, you might be interested in checking out a great feature from music history. “In 1970, such names as Janis Joplin, The Band, and The Grateful Dead traveled by a customized train for five days to Toronto, Calgary, and Winnipeg for a mega-concert at each stop..” and you can check out the result with the DVD Festival Express.
What did CBC Music say is the best song in Canadian history? Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now from the album Clouds. The entire record is fantastic from start to finish, with some calling it THE record of an era. If you want to know more about it, check out Will You Take Me As I Am: Joni Mitchell’s Blue Period by Michelle Mercer. Coincidentally, the album came in at number 3 on the list of top Canadian albums. If you want to explore more works by the great poet, lyricist, and writer – we’ve got a large selection her works. We’ve got the poems and lyrics, music (both printed and audio cd’s), a children’s book, and more.
The great Neil Young came in at number 2 with the song Helpless (find it here), of which Dan Mangan said “It’s an incredible song. One of the best songs ever, not just Canadian songs, but one of the best songs that’s ever been a song.” If you are a Neil Young Fan, you might want to delve deeper into our collection. We have Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream by the man himself. Of course there are other books, DVDs, downloadable videos, and yes – music. After the Gold Rush from 1970 was number was listed as the number 3 album. The movie bearing the same name explores his life from 1978 through to his recent comeback. His album Harvest was listed as the best Canadian album ever.
Canada has produced some great music through its history, and it is definitely worth experiencing. If there’s a book, movie, or CD about music (or anything else) you think we need to add to our collection, let us know through the recommend a title form we have in our catalog. As always, please feel free to comment (especially if you think there are any songs or albums really out of place in a “best of” list.)