Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

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Friday, February 18, 2005

The Greatest Canadian. Er, song.

As part of the CBC's current effort to keep us from noticing there are no hockey broadcasts this winter, they've reprised and extended their summer radio success 50 Tracks, this time sticking to exclusively Canadian songs.

If you're not a big CBC radio service listener, allow me to summarize - over the summer, former Moxy Fruvous dude Jian Ghomeshi gathered together panels of musical experts to nominate, by decade, songs that were "essential" in some way. It was a neat little show, at least in part because it was freed of genre restrictions, which comparable lists prepared by commercial radio stations are not. The final list itself was interesting enough in the end, if not exactly the one I would have produced.

So, the show was successful enough to have earned another go (and a television audience as well), but since you can't keep arguing about the same songs, the rules had to change - now, Jian and panellists are trying to isolate the fifty essential Canadian tracks. Not entirely surprisingly, more of the list is being back ended to the 70s and forward, because Canadian content regulations have been so successful in promoting Canadian music since then.

Enough background. This week, the first of two for the 1980s, has selected the top, most essential, greatest Canadian song of that decade. F'n North-West Passage, by Stan Rogers.

How appropriate - when I hear the song, it's inexorably linked via the soundtrack of my life. I can remember high school dances, the sting of rejection, the nearly equal sting of my first tastes of rye whiskey... it wouldn't be the same without the deejay spinning Stan's memorable dirge. And influential? I can rememeber just as I was graduating high school, when the early-'80s wave of Canadian hair bands gave way to old men singing sea shanties in four-part harmony. In fact, our grad theme song was Barrett's Privateers.

Look, I'm not saying the song is bad. It just feels like one of those artifical efforts to create a national identity, when in fact our identity is probably more accurately wrapped up in (and I say this with no pride) Loverboy and April Wine.

It doesn't fit. If Anne Murray's Snowbird doesn't qualify as an essential Canadian track (and it did not), there's no way Stan Rogers should be there, leaving "I'm an Adult Now" out in the cold along with "Rockin' in the Free World".

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