What do The Band, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Oscar Peterson, Basia Bulat, Arcade Fire and Leonard Cohen all have in common?  That’s right, they’re Canadian!

I was reading Rosemary Sullivan’s The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out yesterday and she mentioned Ronnie Hawkins and Joni Mitchell.  I was a bit surprised, I had no idea they were Canadian (Ronnie Hawkins is actually born American and got naturalised later).  I knew Neil Young, one of my favourite musician, was Canadian, and so was Oscar Peterson, a great jazz musician, although I only learnt that after liking their music, but Joni Mitchell?  It’s just weird, I seem to be drawn to Canada; my mother thinks I must have a Canadian sensibilty (my favourite literary theorist, Linda Hutcheon, is also from Canada).  Curious to see what other musicians originate from Canada, I had a look on Wikipedia.  Guess what?  The Band are also Canadian (well, four of the five members)!  For those of you who don’t know them, they played with Bob Dylan for a while, and their last concert, The Last Waltz, was made into a film by Martin Scorcese.  I am also a big fan of them (I even used to fancy Robbie Robertson as a teenager; don’t laugh!).

So here is some great Canadian music for you!

Joni Mitchell singing “Big Yellow Taxi”, quite a famous song:

Joni Mitchell singing “Coyote” with The Band at The Last Waltz concert:

It’s a bit difficult to choose just one song by Neil Young as there are so many I love.  You can’t go wrong with “Rockin’ in a Free World”:

And this is “Old Man”, the song that made me discover Neil Young:

I love this version of “The Weight” by The Band and The Staple Singers performed at their last concert, The Last Waltz.  Rick Danko is amazing in it and The Staple Singers are amazing!

And, of course, there are the beautiful lyrics of Leonard Cohen, here singing “So Long Marianne”:

I am not really into jazz, but I went out with a jazz musician for three years and got introduced to jazz.  When I was with him, he shared his passion with me and I got to figure out what I liked and didn’t like in jazz.  Oscar Peterson is quite traditional in his playing of the standards, he is not into this free jazz madness, but he is great.  I nearly went to see him in concert; unfortunately, I missed my chance.  This is “Caravan” (look at his hands!):

And this is Basia Bulat, an artist I went to see at the Jazz Festival in Montreal last year.  She is amazing; she plays so many instruments!  This is “In the Night”:

Isn’t she great?  Have a look a this one too:

I could keep going for quite a while; some gems, aren’t they?  You want one more for the road?  Here is “Helpless” performed by Neil Young, The Band and Joni Mitchell:

I hope you enjoyed this musical interlude as much as I did.