Here’s the thing about Canada. We have great music. You can’t deny it! Someone mentioned to me the other day that there must be something in the water here, that allows us to produce so many great musical artists. I thought I’d put together an All-Canadian playlist for iTunes, of some of my favourite (with a “u”!) Canadian artists. Some you’ll probably know well, even if you are from other countries. Some may be new to you, even if you are Canadian. But what they all have in common is they are just simply great tunes. I’ve provided links and background on each artist/song, because I think that knowing a bit about the artists really enhances the appreciation of the music.

Here’s the link to the iMix in iTunes, so you can go and download. I’ve included 15 songs, so if you buy them all it’ll only cost as much as a CD.


1. Fly By Night – Rush
Now what would an all-Canadian playlist be without a little Rush? Undoubtedly one of the most world-famous Canadian bands of all time, Rush continues to rock hard. What I love about Rush is how just 3 guys can make so much noise (and good-sounding noise at that). And deep down, I’ve always wished I could sing like Geddy Lee.

2. Tango Shoes – Bif Naked
Oh, how I enjoy a good Bif Naked song! Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Bif is one tattooed rockin’ chick with a great voice. She’s hugely fun to see live, and well, I just like her. I think you will too.

3. Tournament of Hearts – The Weakerthans
If there’s truly something in the water that makes Canada have such great musical talent, then there must be a lot of it in Winnipeg’s water. The Weakerthans are probably my favourite Canadian band in the past few years. I love their genuinely Canadian songs about beer, cold weather and this one, which is about our other winter pastime – curling. If you’ve never hung out at a curling arena on a Sunday afternoon, this song will put you right in the moment. Love these guys. They are coming to Ottawa March 28th and I’m sad because I’ll be in Indiana and have to miss them.

4. Forever – Bran Van 3000
I have a confession to make – I’m a closet electronica fan. BV3 is awesome – they are from Montreal and although I don’t know much about what they are up to these days, I can tell you that this is the music I like to dance around the house to.

5. Feel for the Driver – Ron Sexsmith
Ron is Canada’s quintessential singer-songwriter. I mean, the guy just oozes talent. You know that feeling you get at a live show when it’s like the whole world fades away and it’s just you and the performer in the room? Well, you get that just listening to Ron’s albums. This is the kind of music where you go and sit in a dark room with the headphones on and just exist with it. Brilliant.

6. Sleepy Maggie – Ashley MacIsaac
Ashley MacIsaac is our resident strange guy. He’s kind of a weirdo, but his talent on the fiddle is unmatched. This is an old AMac song from I think, his first album. I love songs in Gaelic, and this one has such a great backbeat I just had to include it.

7. Watching Planes Come In –  Hippie Campfire
How can you not love a band whose name is Hippie Campfire? I had to include one local Ottawa band on this list. These guys aren’t too well known outside the bar scene in this town, but they have a big sound and their lead linger “Filthy” Rich Rankin has an amazing voice. They are piles of fun and this song, Watching Planes Come In, will stick in your head for weeks, I promise.

8. Excursion around the Bay  – Great Big Sea
Well, geez, b’ys – ya knew I had to include a Newfoundland band in this list! Great Big Sea is undoubtedly Newfoundland’s biggest export. Aside from being so cute you could eat ’em up, they are exceptional vocalists and musicians. I think they’ve won just about every Canadian music award you can imagine, and for great reason. This is my all-time favourite GBS tune, and again, it’ll stick in your head for weeks!

9. A Case of You – Joni Mitchell
Of course, we all know Joni. Not too much to say about her that hasn’t already been said. This is my favourite Joni tune, what’s yours?

10. Democracy  –  Leonard Cohen
A man ahead of his time. A master. A genius. I thought this tune from Leonard Cohen was particularly fitting to add to the list, in light of recent Presidential events in the U.S. Can’t say too much more about Leonard that he hasn’t already been saying in the 40+ years we’ve had the privilege of hearing his music.

11. Innocent –  Our Lady Peace
I am all about Our Lady Peace.This is my favourite tune, Innocent. But they have so many more. Take a plow through their web site and see what you can find online of their music. If you aren’t already a fan, I bet you’ll become one!

12. Brandy Alexander –  Feist
Nothing I like better than a good pint of draught beer and a few Feist songs on a Sunday afternoon. Though I admit to being a little tired of “1,2,3,4”, I do love this song, Brandy Alexander. It’s just wispy enough to put me in a great mood.

13. What a Good Boy – Barenaked Ladies
Much like I couldn’t not include Rush, I most definitely couldn’t NOT include a little BNL on this list. I’ve been a fan of these guys since BEFORE the beginning – when they were a struggling Toronto band doing the small club circuit and looking for their big break. What a Good Boy is definitely my all time favourite tune of theirs. Mostly because it’s the only time I’ve ever heard the word “hairshirt” used in a song.

14. The Rest of My Life –  Sloan
Stop the presses. These guys ARE the best band in Canada, in my opinion. They just crank it out, great song after great song. The Rest of My Life is an oldie but a goodie, and you’ll be a fan, I’m sure.

15. Weighty Ghost – Wintersleep
Rounding out the list, a great song to end off on. Weighty Ghost is kind of haunting, with an awesome beat, and you won’t be able to help but tap your feet. Or play the air drums. Or both.

So there you have it – All Canadian music to spice up your music library. I’d love to hear from you – do you have any Canadian artists that you really love? Who have I missed? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

4 Responses

  1. Sue,
    Not a good sign of how many of your list I don’t know. Missing off the top of my head are Neil Young (the patron Saint of Street Musicians), Stan Rogers (who was stolen from us well before his time) , Bachman/Cummings (in some incantation), Rick Fines (gotta love acoustic slide guitar blues), & hey the Demics (“I wanna go to NYC” is a classic punk song)!

    As for Sloan, I loved “If It Feels Good Do It” so much I bought the album, but the rest of it didn’t do anything for me.

    cheers, Andrew

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *