Monday, October 13, 2008

TVD's Daily Wax | "It Came From the North"

This week on TVD, we’re featuring the theme “It Came From the North,” a look at my favorite acts from your Canuck friends north of the border. These artists achieved enough fame to transcend their humble origins in the land of maple syrup and polar bears, while allowing their national identity to shine through in their music. Can we get a salute for the maple leaf?

While there have been Canadian rock bands making a name for themselves in the USA before, The Guess Who were the first to reach superstardom without having to trade in their passports to achieve it. As legendary giants of Canadian pop music, they were the first Canadian band to chart a Number 1 hit in the States, and the first musicians to be inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame. This notoriety offered them the perfect forum to promulgate their version of Canadian values to the world via their smash hit, “American Woman,” which delighted Canadian nationalists and scandalized American critics. Lester Bangs wrote, “Wouldn’t you be offended by this Canuck creep coming down here and taking all our money while running down our women? Sure you would!”

If that wasn’t bad enough, buried somewhere in the middle of the song are pacifist lyrics which fit right into the politically charged climate of the Vietnam War. Not only was The Guess Who dissing American chicks, but now they were mocking Lady Liberty herself! The degree of offense was such that when The Guess Who was invited to play at the White House for the President and Prince Charles, Pat Nixon made a special request for “American Woman” to be omitted from their set list. This infamous song went a long way towards establishing Canada’s reputation as a haven for draft-dodgers and hippies, but that didn’t stop their records from flying off the shelves. Musically, they represent a nice transition from the pop-soul of the 60s to the burgeoning hard rock of the 70s. The Guess Who remain staples of Canadian oldies radio and I’ve spent many a pleasant road trip zipping down the highway, enjoying the fall colors with their tunes blaring out of my windows. Try it yourself while the weather's still decent!

The Guess Who - American Woman (Mp3)
The Guess Who - No Sugar Tonight (Mp3)
The Guess Who - Star Baby (Mp3)
The Guess Who - Laughing (Mp3)
The Guess Who - When the Band Was Singing (Shake It All Over) (Mp3)
The Guess Who - No Time (Mp3)
The Guess Who - Share The Land (Mp3)


Uncle E said...

Being half Canadian myself, I gotta say that Burton Cummings post Guess Who soft rock cooing and Randy Bachman's dunderhead noodlings nearly tainted their legacy altogether. But the set list you mention is some fine R&R and a good reminder why they matter.
Thanks for the post. Can't wait to see the 2nd instalment!

Ramya J said...

lol! I didn't know this, but I love how you weaved music & political history together.