Wednesday, March 23, 2005

 

The OTHER 50 Tracks: Day 7

Wondering what all this is about? Before you begin, you might want to read days one, two, three, four, five and six. The List so Far: Round 1: Hockey: Jane Siberry (Mike) Helpless: Neil Young (FC: Keith) I Go Blind: 54-40 (Peter) Nothing at All: Maestro Fresh Wes (Aaron) Tired of Waking Up Tired: The Diodes (Carol) A Case of You: Joni Mitchell (Carl) Round 2: Have Not Been The Same: Slow (Mike) Hallelujah (Live): Leonard Cohen (Keith) Wheat Kings: The Tragically Hip (Pete) Vetoed By Carol Subdivisions: Rush (Carol) Vetoed By Keith Rags and Bones: Nomeansno (Carl) Round 3: One Great City!: The Weakerthans (Mike) Westray: Weeping Tile (Keith) Vetoed By Pete Deeper Than Beauty: Sloan (Pete) Having an Average Weekend: Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet (Aaron) In today's diversion: Visits from Snow, Snow, the CRTC and "Twelve Inches of Hank".

Carl:

Does everybody really think Sloan are much better than their peers, rather than just more-exposed? There are so many east-coast bands I preferred. But since the pick wasn't Underwhelmed, which is a good song but would make a stultifyingly dull selection, I'm not tempted to veto.

Pete:

There are indeed plenty of great East Coast bands, and at least a couple of them, from the Sloan-era and earlier, are yet to come on my list. In my opinion, Sloan were for several years the most consistently distinct and talented of the lot. Are any of the others coming for your list, Carl?

Keith:

Yeah, let's get some love for Thomas Trio and the Red Albino...

Mike:

I nearly got in a punch-up with the Thomas-Trio at Sneaky-Dees when we walked out on their set...good times.

Keith:

What ever happened to Shadowy Men, anyway?

Carol:

Solid pick and reasoning, Aaron. I have nothing to add. Kids in the Hall were excellent and unembarassing; akin to SCTV. As to "what happened to," one of the guitarists (whose name ashamedly escapes me) died of cancer a few years ago. He appeared on Neko Case's early records. Welcome back to the cold, Aaron. Pass me some BBQ and a beer, thanks :)

Carl:

Reid Diamond is the one who died a couple of years ago - he'd had a bunch of projects including Phono-Comb, which also included members of the Sadies. Brian Connelly has (I think still) a band called Atomic 7, is a frequent Neko Case "Boyfriend." Don Pyle has a band called Greek Buck and has worked with the Sadies and King Cobb Steelie.

cw

yer fact-checkin' cuz

Keith:

Thanks for the fact check, cuz. I saw Atomic 7 recently (opening for The Fiftymen here in Ottawa, if memory serves) they were a fun act. Kinda like Huevos Rancheros; surf guitar with a little more hollow body mexification thrown in for spice.

Carl:

Aaron, I would have nominated Having an Average Weekend if you hadn't. Besides all the reasons you mentioned, the Shadowy Men were products of the Queen Street scene, as were the Kids in the Hall, and the fact that the Kids brought the likes of SMFASP along with them when their star rose really did help transform Canadian culture - or at least the post-boomer one that's still struggling to emerge. I think among the majority of people involved with the arts and media in this country between 25 and 40 - and maybe even under 25 - the Kids were a touchstone. And that's because they carried the Queen West aura, in a way that helps show how the underground does actually end up shaping mainstream culture, how the foundation-shaking done by those wild bohemian types can actually open up space for new questions and values to emerge. Think about the gay sensibility expressed by a good part of the Kids in the Hall material - don't they deserve a helluva lot more credit for bringing that material to the Canadian mainstream? Compared to the tepid and much later Will and Grace, for instance? I'm beginning to wonder how skewed to a Gen X picture of the world this list is going to be, by the way. It makes Ghomeshi's decade-by-decade approach look smart - in his case to present his panelists from leaning too heavily to the sixties and seventies, in our case the eighties and nineties.

Peter:

I think you’re cutting off that KITH age group a bit too low. At 43, I know loads of people my age and older who think KITH are the cat's ass. Maybe we identify that he's hip, he's cool, he's 45 guy. Once my buddy brought his 3 year old daughter to the office for a minute. The boss came over to talk to her. She looked at him like he was dirt, the she lifted her fingers, brought them together and said to the boss, "crush, crush your head." I love that kid. Now's she’s 16, and she just got a 12 string guitar.

Carol:

I've spent most of this evening trying to come up with a pick that wasn't obvious. As I mentioned before, Iwanted to pick something "old" (ie. pre-70s). I finally decided on Hank Snow's "I've Been Everywhere", but he didn't write it; an American did. So it's not technically Canadian (according to the CRTC). Does it count here?

Peter:

There's a track like that on my list, though I'm only bringing it in because it's so different from the original, entirely rewritten and expanded from the original, and turned into a Canadian track. Is Snow's version different from the original? If not, I don't see it as more than a cover.

Carol:

To my knowledge, Hank Snow recorded the song first in 1966. Since then, it's been covered by everyone and their dawg. While he wasn't the writer, he is the artist most associated with "I've Been Everywhere". So does that make it a cover? I don't think so. Nevertheless, I will go back and find something else. And to change the lyrics to Canadianize? That doesn't make it original either, I don't think.

Mike:

I was thinking if Carl wanted to nominate something to get us going, he'd give Snow of Informer fame $50 to cover "I've been everywhere" Snow could probably use the dough and the chatter quotient would certainly peak.

Carl:

Hank Snow is definitely the singer most associated with I've Been Everywhere, and while CRTC rules would count him out, do we actually have any rules here? No, we have no rules. (Unless Keith says we do.) This is an injustice of the CBC version that could be corrected here...

Keith:

There are no rules, Carl. Besides, no rules, CRTC or otherwise, should banish Hank Snow (a pick I nearly made yesterday before I put everyone nearly to sleep with that Weeping Tile track).

He sings about "Crater Lake, for pete's sake."

Mike:

I'm hoping what I'm about to write is the most boring post of our exchange, but I'm worried that it might not be... According to my reading of the MAPL system, Hank Snow's version of I've been everywhere would qualify as CAN-CON as a special case under section 2: (FC’s note: Section cut to keep tonight’s post under 10,000 words. If you're really interested in how Heritage Canada/CRTC bureaucrats are spending your bucks. . . follow the link)

Not that anyone is going to call you on this one Carol

PS: I still think a Snow/Hank Snow mash-up would be unstoppable (call it 12 inches of Hank or I've Been Everywhere-boom-boom-down).

Peter:

12 inches of Hank?

Mike:

Man..cue the crickets and crack out the CPR paddles, that joke died. Snow's hit "Informer" (not sure if the quotes should go around the song title or the word hit) was on the record "12 Inches of Snow."

Pete:

Ahh, yes, that Snow always had an eloquent hand with the words.

Keith:

I thought it was funny.

Mike, do us a favour, don't EVER Google "12 Inches of Hank."

Carol:

OK, then there it is. As I mentioned, I wanted to expand beyond our Gen X playlists. I could name a TON of local/obscure/indie bands nationwide that deserve mention that got limited if any CBC airplay. Doughboys, Whirlygigs, Mecca Normal... The problems are 1)the selection is band centred, 2) I don't necessarily own the work, 3). I like the idea of picking artists/songs from the past; the original tundra for today’s tunes, as it were. I searched AMG for Hank and found a list of his originally work that he penned. Never heard of most of 'em. Rightly or wrongly. "I've Been Everywhere" stuck. I like the fact that he made it in the country scene despite his passport and without the benefit of Can Con regulations. I like the song he made his own and by repeated play and performance by others, a folk song. His voice was distinctive yet he never became the icon that Stompin' Top is today. That's show biz. Anyway, yes, it's a CBC pick because the Mother Corp made a noble effort to reach into the archives and came up limited. Not sure why; I'm sure there was lots of talent from which to choose, but not sanctioned or too cornball. Ted Daigle for instance; in the Canadian Country Hall of Fame, but I couldn't name a distinctive track if you subjected me to Shania all day. I do own the record -- absconded from my Dad's collection (sorry, Dad).

Hank Snow's "I've Been Everywhere" is fun, he's ours and hopefully this exercise will spur us on (as a nation/group/individuals) to scour the archives, pry up the hardwood floors and find the gems.

Listen to I've Been Everywhere

Carl:

Well, Carol, Snow's not the icon of Canadianosity that Stompin' ... er, "Top"? ... is, since there was no way to make it in the music racket if you stayed down home in his day. But if you head out to the Hank Snow Country Music Centre in Nova Scotia or down to Nashville, where he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1979 and was a Grand Ole Opry regular, I think you'll find that he comfortably holds his own in the country-icon sweepstakes. He sold a reported 70-million records, had more than 40 top-10 country hits in his time; Elvis opened for him in 1955, although it was Elvis more than anyone who eventually put an end to the Hank Snow era, too Yet as his 1999 obituary in the Guardian (UK), put it, "It was always a shock to remember that this eloquent exemplar of a music rooted in the American South was a Canadian, born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia." Our loss, truly, but not so much Hank Snow's.

Keith:

I’ve Been Everywhere (great pick, btw) has me thinking of something else:

Has anyone ever made a mix of all "Book of list" songs? I've Been Everywhere, It's the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine) . . . . Ummmmm, We Didn't Start the Fire? Ok, let's put that one back into development.

Mike:

I honestly like things that don't involve hockey (or my iPod - I gotta find other things to write about...) but the first "list-song" that came to mind is Jughead's Hockey Song: Well, I play Air hockey, Ball hockey, Barn Hockey, Bubble Hockey, Field hockey, Floor hockey, Ice hockey, Kitchen hockey, Road hockey,Roller hockey, Table hockey, Twist hockey

And I play hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey,hockey all the time!

Pete:

My favourite list song is People Who Died, by the Jim Carroll Band.

Teddy sniffing glue he was 12 years old Fell from the roof on East Two-nine Cathy was 11 when she pulled the plug On 26 reds and a bottle of wine Bobby got leukemia, 14 years old He looked like 65 when he died He was a friend of mine I listen to it when I need cheering up.

Keith:

In case you're interested, Pete. The Drive By Truckers do an excellent version of that song on their live rekkid, Alabama Ass Whuppin'

I forgot 88 Lines about 44 Women by the Nails: Catherine was far too pretty, she didnt't do that shit at all Ahhhhhhh, Catherine.

Carl:

Does anybody else wish we'd made a rule that we couldn't pick artists who are on the 50 Tracks list? I mean, I love I've Been Everywhere, but what would we go for if we couldn't have Hank Snow? Somebody might dig deeper. I've been excited every time a non-CBC-charting nominee comes up, while the "not that song, this song" choices are less galvanizing. I'm swearing them off.

Mike:

I don't know that I could come up with my 8 songs (or however many we'll have to pick) if I couldn't poach one or two artists from the CBC list. To the CBC's credit there are some pretty good songs there. One of my older colleagues was pissed that the CBC didn't nominate the Black Fly song by Wade Hemsworth. If you'll forgive the pun, I suppose camp songs might open up a whole new vein of material for us to debate.

Keith:

Mike took the words right out of my mouth. (Not about camp songs, I don't camp . . .much to my partner's frustration) There are some obvious blind spots on the CBC list (and I think we'll address them) but I think you'd have to have some pretty encyclopedic knowledge of Can Rock to come up with 50 completely new artists. (Though it'll be fun to see what you come up with going "no repeat" Carl)

Carl:

I guess it could wear rather thin, but we'll see. (I am not counting nominated-but-non-charting 50 Tracks subjects such as Plastikman etc. here - they are still fair game.) I have a few ideas anyway. Wade Hemsworth is actually a great one.

Pete:

We already overlap with the CBC list on artists. Fresh Wes, for example. I believe it would be ornery of us to insist on no overlap.

Carl:

Oh, I know we've already crossed that line - many times. I crossed it with Joni M. right off. It was just belated second thoughts - having written very briefly about this exercise for the column, this question of what kind of alternative we're presenting was on my mind, and that was one rule that might have spiced things up on that level. Not that there is too little spice. The spice is nice. I'd say it twice. I've Been Everywhere is available, well, everywhere, including here. You can find more of The OTHER 50 on DAY EIGHT.
Comments:
The alternative list is such a great idea, and much congrats to all participating and the fine fine choices they have made. Good to see Slow, NoMeansNo and many others get the recognition they deserve, but I feel one essential track by one essential band is missing - "Hawaii" by the Young Canadians. Besides the fact that the song sums up the true Canadian dream, besides the fact that it is near perfect punk pop, and besides the fact it is the greatest sing-a-long few have heard, it was written by the great Art
Bergman, a songwriter, a showman and a legend that to call Canada's way cooler and way tougher version of Lou Reed is to do Art a disservice. -
best Dominic
 
What a tiresome, MOW-driven bunch of drivel.
Get some perspective, and a few older voices in there! This is the essential list, guys, and to present a modern-day set as an "alternative" is to miss an essential fact - popular music evolves, it has roots & shoots. You've missed that point, and have instead chosen to establish your own cubbyhole to appeal to a segment of music-lovers guaranteed to dissent about anything you perceive as "dated".
You're reactionaries, not fresh voices presenting an alternative.

Boomer, Year One
 
What a tiresome, NOW-driven bunch of drivel.
Get some perspective, and a few older voices in there! This is the essential list, guys, and to present a modern-day set as an "alternative" is to miss an essential fact - popular music evolves, it has roots & shoots. You've missed that point, and have instead chosen to establish your own cubbyhole to appeal to a segment of music-lovers guaranteed to dissent about anything you perceive as "dated".
You're reactionaries, not fresh voices presenting an alternative.

Boomer, Year One
 
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