Canadian success stories

This afternoon, I dusted off my copy of Bob Mersereau’s 2007 volume The Top 100 Canadian Albums, a nifty effort on the Maritime music-writer’s part to construct a definitive list of nation-defining pop records.
I felt honoured to be among the contributors to Mersereau’s book; though, not one of my five choices — three of which were likely by Kate and Anna McGarrigle and one of which was surely Slow’s Against the Glass — made it into the published Hot-100. (See this blog’s Polaris Prize essay and you’ll begin to see a pattern.) The absence of Kate and Anna’s Entre la jeunesse et la sagesse, for my money the greatest album ever recorded, neither surprised nor bothered me. The fact that other contributors failed to recognize the rock and roll majesty of Slow’s lone LP, did.
Still, as I gaze at the 100 finalists, I cannot but be impressed to see Daniel Lanois’ masterpiece Acadie resting at No. 20, with such only-in-Canada artists as The Rheostatics, Blue Rodeo, Sloan and The Tragically Hip placed even higher. I may not agree with certain choices, but I applaud the patriotic fervour behind them.
(Mercereau, incidentally, is hard at work on a followup book chronicling, you guessed it, the top 100 Canadian singles. I submitted five contenders for that list as well. Watch for none of them — with the probable exception of The Poppy Family’s sublime Which Way You Goin’ Billy? — to appear soon in a book near you. And yes, when it comes time for the top 100 Canadian videos, I hope Bob once again asks for my input.)
Mercereau’s noble effort came to mind on the heels of a curious news release emailed to me by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS). You know them as the folks behind the JUNO Awards. Indeed, the message’s ‘sender’ was credited as “2010 JUNO Awards.”
“GRAMMY nominations include 12 Canadian artists in the mix,” trumpeted the subject line. The attached news release spoke breathlessly of a primetime Grammy-nominations special, aired Wednesday. Of televised live “performances by The Black Eyed Peas, Maxwell, Sugarland and Nick Jonas & the Administration.” of LL Cool J’s having hosted the show. And, of course, of the 13 GRAMMY Award nominations secured by a dozen Canadian artists.
The Canadian nominees were then named in the news release, together with the number of JUNO Awards each has copped over the years. Twelve JUNOs for Nickelback! Eight for Diana Krall! And five for therefore-lesser talent Neil Young. But wait, there’s more. Seven additional GRAMMY Award nominations “have a Canadian connection,” it says here. Those nominees, though, are merely producers. Not a Nickelback in the bunch.
One can understand CARAS’s excitement, and the organization’s encouraging us to tune in to the GRAMMY Awards telecast Jan. 31, at 8 p.m. EST. After all, the JUNO Awards are all well and good, but we’re talking the bigtime here. A primetime live telecast! To an American audience! That, CARAS and the JUNOs would evidently like to remind us, is the very definition of success for a Canadian recording artist.
I thank CARAS for the news release. It is comforting to know an organization whose stated goal is “to preserve and enhance the Canadian music and recording industries and to contribute toward higher artistic and industry standards” has not lost sight of what really matters.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sit back with an old friend called Love Tara, the 1993 Eric’s Trip stunner listed as the 39th-best Canadian album of all time in this here book. Can’t recall how many GRAMMY nominations the band earned for that one, but it must have been a bunch. How else could it have placed so highly on Bob Mersereau’s list?

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