Playlist: Great recordings from the Canadian songbook

Canadian music through the years, like Canada itself, has formed a bedrock of classic songs. Reflecting on the calibre of songwriting that has come from Canadian artists, I created this playlist and was delighted by its depth and staying power. It’s not a profile of Canadian music…that would be a longer list. Rather, I made my selections primarily from the folk and rock genres that mingle so naturally to form a distinctly Canadian sound.

1. Going to the Country, Bruce Cockburn – From his first album, a really good, simple folk song.

2. Blackbird, The Beatles – The only import on the list. It blended so beautifully with the first track, I had to add it as a companion.

3. When She Loved Me, Sara McLachlan – Heartbreaking ballad, one of McLachlan’s best, but unknown unless you have kids and watched Toy Story 2

4. Pulling on a Line, Great Lakes Swimmers – Relatively new group with an appealing folk-rock sound

5. Try, Blue Rodeo

6. Lovers in a Dangerous Time, Barenaked Ladies – Still one of their best recordings,  I think. Their interpretation of this Bruce Cockburn song was original and introduced Canada to their own distinctive style that would launch their career.

7. Jolie Louise, Daniel Lanois – An old-fashioned ballad telling a tragic story. The song is constructed so simply and performed with a rustic minimalism.

8. Miss Chatelaine, K.D. Lang – Cinematically classic

9. Spot the Difference, Spirit of the West – A more mainstream sound from this group known for its classically celtic style.

10. Harvest Moon, Neil Young – One of the most beautiful compositions ever.

11. Save Me, K.D. Lang

12. Bobcaygeon, The Tragically Hip – The best Canadian song of the 1990s.

13. Hallelujah, K.D. Lang – Watch her Vancouver Olympics closing ceremony performance of this song. Incredible.