Canadians are preparing for a monumental summer. This grand, diverse and gorgeous land we call home is celebrating its 150th birthday. On top of the massive list of positives that Canada is made up of, there is one key component of this nation’s history and culture that demands to be celebrated more than usual: our music. Readjusting our focus on what is ahead for Canadian music and turning it back on to seminal, classic albums is just one way Canadians can show their appreciation. Here are just four to scratch the surface of the immeasurable impact our artist have left.
1. Neil Young- Harvest: This man is sure to make many lists of this nature, but that’s not a cop out. The beyond-legendary status of this release practically makes it Canadian law to include (not literally, but you get it). “Heart of Gold,” “Old Man” and “The Needle and the Damage Done” will be held toward the top of the Canadian music Pantheon for an incredibly long time to come.
2. Joni Mitchell- Blue: At times forgotten, but never for too long. Joni Mitchell incorporated her unmatched vocal delivery into songs that dabbled into a bit of unorthodox instrumentation. Mandolins and other stringed choices take reign on this album, along with tasteful piano arrangements. Joni Mitchell’s capabilities reach out so much further than her famous bubbly protests on “Big Yellow Taxi,” so reach back into her discography and bask in some Canadian excellence.
3. Arcade Fire-Funeral: Now this could seem strange to some. An album that is less than 15 years old having a presence on a “classics” list? Yes. That’s the short answer. The Montreal indie rock monoliths made an immediate impact in their 2004 debut. Bringing a huge band (more than six people!) into North American mainstream attention was noteworthy, and that’s a criminal understatement. This release also laid the foundation for the group’s future projects, including the Grammy-winning underdog “The Suburbs.” Besides, having this band being more recent than other entries on this list isn’t a bad thing. It just means you get to look back a bit and make an immediate assessment on this band’s ongoing influence on the growing Canadian music scene.
4. The Tragically Hip-Fully Completely: Of course, recognition of this album comes at a bitter-sweet moment in Canada’s history. Iconic front man Gord Downie is of course undergoing some difficult and dark times, and Canada shares at least a small fraction of that pain. However, having a gander at this release again leading up to Canada’s `150th birthday is just about the most Canadian thing you can do. The Tragically Hip are probably the most patriotic face of Canadian content. Our land, history and people play vital roles in their widely celebrated music. So, with that being said, let’s band together, reminisce on quality storytelling and allow the pride of our country exemplified by this band to take over any feelings of dread or negativity this summer. It’s only fitting.
By: John Pattee