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Guess Who's on the list? New book lists Canada's top 100 songs

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JohnN

400 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
482
Location
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Gun control? Fuggedaboutit. The long-form census? Count yourself out.

There a new debate and it's got nada to do with Parliament Hill.

A new book by author and "music nerd" Bob Mersereau ventures into the risky territory of listing the top 100 Canadian singles of all time, with American Woman by The Guess Who at top spot.

And who's on it and how they rank — and perhaps especially who's not there — are sure to heat up the atmosphere at water coolers from Cape Spear to Kelowna.

"If one of your own favourites is not on this list," Mersereau writes in his introduction to The Top 100 Canadian Singles, "go ahead and fight among yourselves. Call me names; I can take it."

And there's plenty to talk about, says Mersereau, on the phone from Toronto Thursday where his cross-Canada release tour began — with music courtesy of Ron Hynes (No. 40, for Sonny's Dream).

"Somebody told me about two weeks ago she bought a copy of the book to take with her on first dates so she would have something to talk about with the guy in case they were having a hard time striking up conversation.

"And if he wasn't interested in the book or in music, she wasn't interested in him," he says with a laugh.

"The serious purpose for me was to get more interest in Canadian music — in any way possible — debate it, argue the merits, whatever," he says. "The history of a lot of these songs just wasn't available in bookstores, especially in a hardcover coffee table kind of thing . . . I was looking for a reference book and I guess, in the end, I just went 'Well, I guess I'm going to have to write it.'"

Mersereau polled 800 musicians, broadcasters, members of the music industry and fans to come up with what surely will be a debated list. Compiled and written by the veteran music columnist, The Top 100 Canadian Singles (publisher Goose Lane) is a lavishly illustrated, full-colour followup to his Canadian bestseller The Top 100 Canadian Albums.

It includes interviews with many of the musicians who made the list, including Bryan Adams, Randy Bachman, Levon Helm of The Band, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian Tyson, Anne Murray, Neal Peart of Rush and many more.

The Guess Who laid claim to the title of No. 1 single, but the band had three others on the list, too, with These Eyes (No. 18), Shakin' All Over at (No. 37) and No Time (No. 91).

Co-founder Randy Bachman "is the king of Canadian pop," Mersereau said, with eight songs on the list — four with The Guess Who, two with BTO and two that he produced with Trooper.

"He just has a way of creating that sort of ear-worm song that gets inside your head and won't leave," Mersereau said.

American Woman was the definite winner "by quite a good margin," he added.

"First off, it's a great, rockin' song. Listen to that one again and you realize 'Hey, this . . . thing is really scorchin'.' It's a classic riff, it's a great song, you listen to it today . . . and it hasn't dated.

"The other thing is they're Canada's band in many ways. They were the first ones that ever stayed in the country and became worldwide popular. They were able to live and breathe and do it out of Winnipeg."

Rounding out the top five were: Heart of Gold, Neil Young (No. 2); The Weight, The Band (No. 3); Summer of '69, Bryan Adams (No. 4); and Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen.

Cohen's inclusion there was a bit of a surprise, said Mersereau.

"I never doubted that Suzanne (No. 16) would be there. What surprised me the most was how high Hallelujah got because this song came out years ago and only in the last little bit has it grown in popularity and other musicians stated covering it and now it's an iconic Canadian song."

For Mersereau, personally, there was some joy and a little sadness, at the outcomes.

"I was pleasantly surprised at a lot of stuff that got through, like at No. 100, right at the bottom was Wintersleep's Weighty Ghost." he said.

"I was thrilled that Stompin' Tom (The Hockey Song at No. 86) got the kudos that he deserves . . . He's a man who creates new folk songs for Canada alone and he's so proud and so determined and is absolutely 100 per cent all about telling us about Canada," he said.

"There were others, too, I was sad for. I would have loved for Valdy to be in there, Murray Mclaughlin, Edward Bear — these are bands from my childhood . . . And there's second and third songs I would have liked to get through — there's only one Stampeders in there . . . one April Wine song.

"(But) when it comes down to it, there's only 100 places."

Alan Cross, a longtime Toronto radio host, known across the country for his Ongoing History of New Music radio series, said he thought the list did a fine job of sifting through thousands of potential inclusions.

"The problem with narrowing something down to 100 songs, is that we're dealing with more than 50 years of music here, and we're dealing with all genres. And a list is a snapshot of a moment, and its very difficult to weigh more recent songs when they haven't had the test of time," said Cross, who was one of the contributors to the list.

"A lot of these songs have to be battle tested over many many years. I think it's fairly representative of where we are at the moment."

More than the song selection, however, Cross said the book is a welcome addition to the slowly growing body of Canadian music history and criticism, a field that he says has been left largely untended for decades.

"Canadians have done an absolutely crappy job of documenting their own musical heritage. Everything has been written from an American point of view or a British point of view," said Cross. "The histories are written by the victors, and we haven't really stood up and documented ourselves on the world stage.

"We represent about two per cent of the world's music market, but at the same time, we certainly export more music than we have a right to for a country of our size," he said. "We definitely punch above our weight."

Cross, a Winnipeg native, said he felt American Woman was a fine choice for the top, despite the irony of the best Canadian song being about Americans. "American Woman is very Canadian in the sense that it defines Canadianness by not being American," he said.

For the record, though, he thinks Young's Heart of Gold might be the better song.

"I'd like to see Neil Young and Burton Cummings get into a boxing ring and decide it once and for all."

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Guess+list+book+lists+Canada+songs/3608690/story.html#ixzz118QeZfnl

A new book by author and "music nerd" Bob Mersereau ventures into the risky territory of listing the top 100 Canadian singles of all time, with American Woman by The Guess Who at top spot.

1. The Guess Who — American Woman

2. Neil Young — Heart Of Gold

3. The Band — The Weight

4. Bryan Adams — Summer of '69

5. Leonard Cohen — Hallelujah

6. Steppenwolf — Born to Be Wild

7. Gordon Lightfoot — If You Could Read My Mind

8. Bachman Turner Overdrive — Takin' Care Of Business

9. Ian and Sylvia — Four Strong Winds

10. Anne Murray — Snowbird

11. Joni Mitchell — Big Yellow Taxi/Woodstock

12. Rush — Tom Sawyer

13. Blue Rodeo — Try

14. Tragically Hip — New Orleans Is Sinking

15. Gordon Lightfoot — The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

16. Leonard Cohen — Suzanne

17. Tom Cochrane — Life Is A Highway

18. Guess Who — These Eyes

19. Gordon Lightfoot — Sundown

20. Sloan — Underwhelmed

21. The Band — Up On Cripple Creek/The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

22. Maestro Fresh Wes — Let Your Backbone Slide

23. The Diodes — Tired of Waking Up Tired

25. Rush — The Spirit of Radio

25. Crowbar — Oh What A Feeling

26. Rough Trade — High School Confidential

27. Martha and the Muffins — Echo Beach

28. Stampeders — Sweet City Woman

29. Arcade Fire — Wake Up

30. Barenaked Ladies — If I Had $1,000,000

31. Robert Charlebois — Lindberg

32. The Pursuit Of Happiness — I'm an Adult Now

33. Ugly Ducklings — Nothin'

34. Sloan — Coax Me

35. Rush — Closer To The Heart

36. Teenage Head — Picture My Face

37. Guess Who — Shakin' All Over

38. Five Man Electrical Band — Signs

39. Blue Rodeo — Lost Together

40. Ron Hynes — Sonny's Dream

41. Men Without Hats — The Safety Dance

42. Rheostatics — Claire

43. Lighthouse — One Fine Morning

44. A Foot In Coldwater — (Make Me Do) Anything You Want

45. Corey Hart — Sunglasses At Night

46. Loverboy — Working For The Weekend

47. Trooper — Raise A Little Hell

48. Parachute Club — Rise Up

49. Alannah Myles — Black Velvet

50. Terry Jacks — Seasons In The Sun

51. Malajube — Montreal —40C

52. Neil Young — Cinnamon Girl

53. Alanis Morissette — You Oughta Know

54. Feist — 1234

55. Arcade Fire — Rebellion (Lies)

56. k.d. lang — Constant Craving

57. Neil Young — Rockin' In The Free World

58. Michel Pagliaro — Lovin' You Ain't Easy

59. Bruce Cockburn — Lovers In A Dangerous Time

60. Tragically Hip — Bobcaygeon

61. Joni Mitchell — A Case of You/California

62. The Demics — New York City

63. Bryan Adams — (Everything I Do) I Do It For You

64. Tragically Hip — Ahead By A Century

65. Blue Rodeo — Five Days In May

66. Hank Snow — I'm Moving On

67. Harmonium — Pour un instant

68. Steppenwolf — Magic Carpet Ride

69. Sloan — Money City Maniacs

70. Celine Dion — My Heart Will Go On

71. k—os — Crabbuckit

72. The Kings —This Beat Goes on/Switchin' To Glide

73. Neil Young — Old Man/Needle and the Damage Done

74. Jean Leloup — 1990

75. Payola$ — Eyes Of A Stranger

76. Blue Rodeo — Hasn't Hit Me Yet

77. Bachman Turner Overdrive — You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

78. Bruce Cockburn — Wondering Where The Lions Are

79. April Wine — You Could Have Been A Lady

80. Teenage Head — Let's Shake/Somethin' On My Mind

81. Joni Mitchell — Help Me

82. Trooper — We're Here For A Good Time

83. Lighthouse — Sunny Days

84. Jean—Pierre Ferland — Le petit roi

85. Bryan Adams — Cuts Like A Knife

86. Stompin' Tom Connors — The Hockey Song

87. Tragically Hip — Wheat Kings

88. Gilles Vigneault — Mon pays

89. Spirit of The West — Home For A Rest

90. New Pornographers — Letter From An Occupant

91. Guess Who — No Time

92. Mashmakhan — As The Years Go By

93. Neil Young — Hey Hey My My

94. Paul Anka — Diana

95. Daniel Lanois — The Maker

96. The Spoons — Nova Heart

97. Beau Dommage — La complainte du phoque en Alaska

98. Ron Sexsmith — Secret Heart

99. Bryan Adams — Run To You

100. Wintersleep — Weighty Ghost
 

JonUrban

Forum Curmudgeon
Staff member
Since 2002/2003
Joined
Mar 2, 2002
Messages
15,757
Location
Connecticut
"We had joy, we had fun, we're ahead of 51"! Ohboy! :D

How'd that get ahead of so many great tunes!!!!! :mad:@:

Let's see - Seasons in the Sun (50) vs Rockin' in the Free World (57), hmm, that's a toughie? NOT!
 

Chris Gerhard

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Jan 15, 2006
Messages
2,669
Location
Little Rock, AR
These lists are always funny. Is it correct to say Randy Bachman played on more of those hits than any other artist? I guess it is possible a session musician beats him but as a proper member of the acts listed, Bachman surely has the most appearances.
 

filper

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
Mar 24, 2007
Messages
1,335
Location
Wasaga Beach, ON
There's some damn fine hoser tunes on that list.

What do you guys think we do when the snow comes ? :)
 

JohnN

400 Club - QQ All-Star
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
482
Location
Canada
"We had joy, we had fun, we're ahead of 51"! Ohboy! :D

How'd that get ahead of so many great tunes!!!!! :mad:@:

Let's see - Seasons in the Sun (50) vs Rockin' in the Free World (57), hmm, that's a toughie? NOT!
Thought I saw: :D We had joy, we had fun, we have 5.1! Ohboy!

That just seasons out of time song is burned in my brain, I blame Canadian radio for the constant torture.

Cheers!
 

GabeL

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
Apr 18, 2007
Messages
1,201
Location
Harrisburg, PA, U.S.A.
What, no Crash Test Dummies???? For those of you that don't have it/haven't heard it...get The Songs Of The Unforgiven (slow, serious, moving, brilliant!)
 

chuckflhp

Well-known Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2007
Messages
112
Location
Reading,Pa
No Triumph? Fight the good fight? Lay it on the line? I would think something by them would have made the top 100.
 

daved64

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Mar 24, 2003
Messages
2,656
Location
Milton, Canada
These lists are always funny. Is it correct to say Randy Bachman played on more of those hits than any other artist? I guess it is possible a session musician beats him but as a proper member of the acts listed, Bachman surely has the most appearances.
Add his producer credits on the 2 Trooper songs and the amount gets even bigger.
 
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