Songs And Seasons In The Canadian Sun

by Kevin Burton

   Friday was Canada Day, which got me thinking about my favorite songs by Canadian musicians.

   The discussion started Saturday on Page 7 (“A Salute To Canada’s Greatest Hits,” July 2.) I have learned a few things just looking into it. 

   For instance, Rush, a group I never listened to back in the 70s, was a Canadian band.  Andy Kim, who in 1974 took “Rock Me Gently” to number one in Canada and the US is Canadian.

   Celine Dion is the top-selling Canadian artist of all time, or at least she was five years ago when Music Canada compiled their list of the top 150 acts. 

   I visited the church in Montreal where Celine Dion was married, but I don’t have any of her music.

   Number two on the list was Shania Twain and I do have her greatest hits.  The set contains two big favorites, “Man! I feel like a Woman!” and “You’re Still the One.” 

  Here’s what I found on Songfacts about the latter:

   “Shania Twain wrote the song with her rock producer husband Robert “Mutt” Lange. Her lyrics were inspired by their marriage, which many felt wouldn’t last.”

   “The soothsayers were right, as Twain and Lange divorced in 2008 after 14 years of marriage.”

   “The song was remixed for its single release to sound less country and appeal more to pop audiences in the hopes of giving twain a mainstream crossover hit. The plan worked. It became Twain’s first top 10 hit in both the UK and US and reached number one in Australia.  It was her most successful hit on the hot 100 spending a record nine (non-consecutive) weeks at number two.”

   The Guess Who had Canada and the world rocking in the first half on the 70s. They hit the top 10 six times between 1970 and 1974 including back-to-back number ones, “American Woman” and “No Sugar Tonight.” In 1970.  The Guess Who’s Greatest Hits is a must-have record for fans of 60s and 70s music.  They were led by dynamic frontman Burton Cummings from Winnipeg.

   Also from Winnipeg, Bachman Turner Overdrive had three smash hit hits in 1974, “Let It Ride,” “Takin’ Care of Business” and chart topper “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”

   Paul Anka was the first Canadian to hit number one on the Hot 100 with “Lonely Boy” in 1959. Drake has the current number one with “Jimmy Cooks.”

   Hey, who says I don’t cover current music!

   The Band was number 124 on the best seller list. Their hit “The Weight” was number 11 on a list of the top 50 Canadian hits compiled by The Penticton Herald, a newspaper from British Columbia

   “Everybody wondered initially what the hell they were talking about. It wasn’t a hit the first time around, but eventually became a classic,” The Herald wrote. “Each member sang a verse.”

   Robbie Robertson wrote the song, which impressed the great Bob Dylan. There’s nothing else quite like the layered harmonies in this song. 

   In March of 1974 Canadian singer-songwriter Terry Jacks held the top spot for three weeks with “Seasons In the Sun.”

  “’Seasons in the Sun’ is an English-language adaptation of the 1961 song ‘Le Moribond’ (In English ‘The Dying Man’) by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel with lyrics rewritten in 1963 by American singer-poet Rod McKuen,  portraying a dying man’s farewell to his loved ones,” according to Wikipedia.

   Somehow in my young mind I never took the song to be about a literal death. Sounds as if I was wrong about that. But the song has become a sonic symbol for a special time in my childhood, before the big mean world came crashing in.

   “‘Seasons in the Sun’ was originally intended for the Beach Boys, with Jacks serving as producer for the recording,” Wikipedia wrote. “However, after the group decided not to release it, Jacks decided to record it himself in late 1973 on his own record label, Goldfish Records.”

   “It became the largest-selling international single by a Canadian artist at that time, eventually selling 14 million copies worldwide. It earned Jacks two Juno Awards and became one of the biggest-selling Canadian singles of all time.”

   At the risk of overstaying my visa, I just have to have at least one more week with these Canadian tunes. We haven’t even mentioned Gordon Lightfoot yet! 

   Let’s do this again next Tuesday. 

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