It’s here! The CBC Radio 2 Obama Playlist!


And much of it won’t make you cringe. Some will. It’s here. Back-seat driving:

  • Tunes that were always going to be on this playlist, because they are the national anthems of Canadians wishing Americans would pay attention to them: American Woman, Democracy, Canadian Railroad Trilogy, The Hockey Song.
  • Tunes that were always going to be on this playlist because they really are at the dead centre of Canadian culture, like it or not: Both Sides Now, Four Strong Winds, Goldberg Variations (he gets the whole thing?), If I Had $1,000,000, La complainte du phoque en Alaska, Mon pays, Quand les hommes vivront d’amour, Swinging Shepherd Blues, Suzanne, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
  • Actual good tunes: A Case of You, Departure Bay (note to Diana: Go ahead and write more tunes! The ones on that album were good), Ordinary Day, Place St. Henri, Rebellion (Lies), Wondering Where the Lions Are.

Odds of the new President listening to maybe 10 of these tunes: high. Odds of him learning to love all 49: zero.

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It’s here! The CBC Radio 2 Obama Playlist!

  1. Considering he doesn’t understand French, isn’t it a bit much expecting him to enjoy Mon Pays other than to note that it shares the similar tune to that Patsy Gallant song “From LA to New York”?

    • I don’t understand French either, but there are a few French songs I really love nonetheless.

      If I limited my music collection to music with lyrics in languages I actually understand, I’d have to take some of my favourite songs off my iPod.

      Perhaps that’s just me though.

      • Much of the beauty of Mon Pays is in the lyrics, though the orchestration is quite enjoyable unto itself.

  2. I presume under “Actual good tunes” you mean “Good tunes not already listed in my first two categories” right?

    ‘Cause I’ve got to say, some of those tunes from your first two lists are beyond good. A few of them are great.

    The only problem I see with your backseat driving (unless somehow you’re not counting “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” or “Both Sides Now” or a couple of those others as “actual good tunes”) is that now I’m going to have “Wondering Where the Lions Are” in my head all afternoon. Which is not exactly a “problem”, but will probably effect my productivity!

  3. Edmund Fitzgerald is my all time favourite and one of the first songs I ever learned to play on the guitar as it is so simple to play! – uh oh …now it’s running through the mind and the only way to get rid of it is to go home and play it.

  4. Once again, I do not measure up as a Canadian apparently. Never heard of Swinging Shepherd Blues, Four Strong Winds or Both Sides Now before googling them a few minutes ago. And The Hockey Song is my least favourite of Stompin’ Tom’s well known songs.

    I have a few quibbles with the songs but I really expected Sudbury Saturday Night to be on this list, along with New Orleans Is Sinking.

    • You’ve definitely heard Swinging Shepherd Blues, jwl. It’s one of those instrumentals you can’t avoid.

      • You know, it’s that one that goes:

        do do do doo doo do
        do do do doo doo do
        do do do doo doo do do do do dooo
        do doo do de do de do do do do do do do do do do do
        do do do do do dee dee do do do do dee dee do do do do
        do do, do do, do do do do.

    • Swinging Shepard even made The Ed Sullivan show back in the day. But maybe you have to google the Ed Sullivan Show, too. Oh, well. I’m old.

    • And I forgot to add that I consider The Band to be Canadian and was shocked that not one of their songs made it because I think they are one of our foremost bands.

      • I understand Acadien Driftwood almost made it.

      • I agree. Seems to me the only reason to leave The Band off is if one doesn’t consider them Canadian, though I do too.

        It seem to me though that some of these songs are here because people felt the idea was supposed to be “come up with songs that can personify Canada for Obama” – kinda “quintessentially” (or stereotypically) Canadian in theme or style. Whereas I would prefer a list more like “49 of the best songs ever produced by Canadian artists”. This type of reasoning might be why something like “Wheat Kings” makes it over a more famous song like “New Orleans…” (though I LOVE “Wheat Kings”) and also perhaps why some of the best selling Canadian artists of all time are completely unrepresented (Not that I need Nickelback or Celine on this list… I’m just sayin’…). I’d rather a list meant to make Obama think “Man, Canada is cool” then “Hmmm, Canadians love Hockey and wheat” (not that I wouldn’t have The Hockey Song and Wheat Kings on the list, as Iove both songs).

        • I was thinking the same thing about reasoning but I think it’s outrageous The Weight or anything else on Big Pink isn’t on this list, tho Acadien Driftwood would have been a good choice as well.

          • I know people have said this about other songs jwl, but I wanted to say that I’m pretty sure you’ve heard Both Sides Now. I’d be shocked if you didn’t recognize it if you heard it. It’s a big one, and has also been covered by MANY artists including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Dolly Parton and… wait for it…

            Leonard Nimoy!

        • How could one not consider The Band to be Canadian? Because the drummer was from Tennessee? For Heaven’s sake!

  5. The more appropriate Hip song might be New Orleans is Sinking.

    • Sorry, jwl. Posting overlap. But, then, glad we could agree on something.

      And Four Strong winds made the Sullivan Show, too.

      • You know what they say: great minds… something something. I forget the rest.

        • Sadly, the rest is …. fools never differ ….. there, you made me do it …

    • Well, except (as I mention above) if you’re voting on the idea that the songs are supposed to somehow personify Canada, or be somehow “quintessentially Canadian”, in which case I think one could argue quite convincingly that Wheat Kings is the most appropriate TTH song (and New Orleans is Sinking might not even make the top three given that standard).

      Or was your comment mostly a Katrina joke?

      • Not a Katrina joke so much as a song That One might actually ” get “. Not that any of this is likely to be on his radar anyway. It’s all pretty lame. But he might feel compelled to mention it during The Visitation.

  6. Surely the biggest surprise inclusion is Marjan Mozetic. Who, to my mind, manages to be nearly unknown and overrated.

  7. Again, not to belabour my point, but I’m interested in how the list seems to sway more toward songs that seem somehow Canadian by nature or character (with exceptions that can’t be left off any list like this like American Woman and Rockin’ in the Free World) rather than “here’s the best of us”.

    I guess that’s what people figure CBC was going for, but I’d prefer Obama heard the later personally (and some songs from this list would clearly make that list). I’m sure that list would include some great (dare I even say “important”) artists who don’t get mentioned here at all.

  8. CBC’s whole program to pick 49 Canadian songs for Obama was the most cringeworthy Can-Am bumpf since that fictional piece in the official program for the 1901 McKinley ceremony.

    “George McKinley Barrington, of the State of Ontario, was today…invested with the office of President of the United States of the Americas….The inaugural parade was thirty-six miles in length, and despite the fact that those participating were carried in aeroplanes, aerial autos, and other conveyances from the Mansion of Executives to the Capitol, the line occupied more than three hours in passing the State aerial tram…. At the close of his address. President Barrington was escorted to the Mansion of the States by the Governors of the 118 States and 91 Territories”

    h/t to CBC Radio who actually read from that old program the other night not long after breathlessly reporting on their 49 odes for Obama.

  9. I’d move “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” from your first grouping to your second grouping, but that’s just me. In fact, “Rockin’ in the Free World” may be better suited to group one — I think it may be the Canadian “Born in the U.S.A.” in terms of the way it is perceived, even though it clearly wasn’t even written for Canada.

    It seems like we could’ve gone with a better/more Canadian Weakerthans song than one that simply mentions the name of a Canadian city. Even their ode to curling clubs would have been a less obvious and more appropriate selection.

  10. I must confess membership to this fellowship of nerds keenly interested in this 49 list.

    Personally, I would say Joni Mitchell’s River should be on the list and I cringe at Rise Up, Rise up.

    Blues du Businessman by Luc Plamondon would have been neat-o as well (insert sobre comment on the dire economic conditions)

  11. chuckercanuck, you had an option, sir. No Irish Eyes are Smiling?

  12. No Sloan? Not one song? Humbug I say.

  13. Which versions of Both Sides and Case of You did you pick, because her grown-up version of Both Sides Now on the album of the same name has so much more meaning for me now. Actually the version of Case of You on that album is pretty great too. Also agree with Departure Bay and the commenter who suggested Rocking in the Free World. I might have added Woodsmoke and Oranges to the list myself.

  14. If it was my list, and I restricted myself to “pop” music (electric guitars), it would perhaps include:
    • Stars
    • Bob’s Your Uncle
    • Jean Leloup
    • Me Mom and Morgentaler
    • Jerry Jerry and the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra
    • more Rush. Shut up, it’s my list, not yours
    • Takin’ Care of Business
    • Heave Away, by The Fables
    • Barrett’s Privateers
    • Jeff Healey’s new cover of The Weight by The Band

    • Jean Leloup’s “Isabelle” is one of my all-time favourites, composed by Michel Dagenais.

      Don’t forget Corb Lund’s “Horse Soldier” with the great, half-heard last stanza:

      I was with the Aussies at Beersheba, took the wells so badly needed
      And with the Polish lancers charging German tanks
      Saw Ross’ mount shot down at Washingtown the night we burned the White House down
      And cursed the sack of York and sons of Yanks

  15. Much of it won’t make me cringe? Perhaps not on my MP3 player, if I had one. But Obama’s? Please. The whole thought of a country feeling so bloody minor-league that it should engage in this national Grade Nine project of gee-I-hope-he-likes-me-was-that-a-look-or-a-smile-or-maybe-oh-god-don’t-look-now-I’ve-got-two-zits-on-my-cheek: cringe city, man…

    • Amen.
      This is embarrassing.

    • I can’t seem to recall anyone doing this for Bush. Or Clinton. Or Reagan.

      In fact, I can’t seem to recall such a childish stunt from any media organization in any country for any world leader in history.

      But you can count on the state-subsidized CBC to become the proverbial United States of America boot-licker.

      • I’ll reiterate my embarrassment (Not in My Name, CBC Radio 2! Not in My Name!), but in all fairness I should respond to sf’s observation.
        It makes me feel so old to be the one to tell you this, but when Bush (Jr or Sr) was inaugurated there was no such thing as an iPod. When Clinton was inaugurated, mix tapes were still a big deal. And when Reagan was inaugurated, there was not even such a thing as a Walkman.
        Also, in those previous inaugurations, CBC Radio 2 was CBC Stereo and it was staffed by grown-ups.

  16. I’d have preferred the Arrogant Worm’s “The Last Saskatchewan Pirate” over “Canada’s Rally Big”. That way he’d know Saskatchewan has pirates, not terrorists, and doesn’t need US military intervention.

  17. No Alanis Morrissette! No “If I had a Rocket Launcher”! Appalling!

    What’s happening over at the CBC? THey’ve gone completely mushuganah.

  18. I’ve always thought ‘A Case of You’ was a pretty strange lyric. After all, if ‘I could drink a case of you/And still be on my feet,’ doesn’t that imply that you’re pretty weak stuff?

  19. I think it is a great list! 49 songs just isn’t enough to please everyone and I read somewhere else that 490 songs would have been a better number. Please feel free to visit my page and leave your comments about the list.

    By the way, I like your odds!


  20. I’m just relieved Peterson’s Canadiana Suite is represented, though I think the prettier tune there is “Wheatland”.

    I also have to second Paul’s request for more The Girl in the Other Room Diana Krall and less like-everyone-else-but-“alto-er” Diana Krall.

    Where in the blazes is “The Maple Leaf Forever”?

  21. I have to agree with madeyoulook’s take on what is truely cringe-worthy in all this and with lorne’s characterisation of CBC Radio 2.

  22. I am very impressed by the quality of this list for one aspect: Every songs dedicated to Quebec culture are fully representative. We saw for so long dummy French elements in tribunes like Junos, Gemini and GG awards.

    CBC Radio 2 and SRC Bande a part are the perfect example how our both solitudes could reach to each other. C’est prometteur pour l’avenir du Canada.

    Christian Martel
    Oxford UK
    Formelly from Montreal