"North" has a moral value, perhaps as "Marianne" means something profound to Parisiens. For a Canadian, especially from Southern Ontario, North is always a time of childhood excitement. We take our vacations in the North. All the youthful excitement of discovery is in the north. It's where you first caught a polliwog. It's where you picked blueberries right off the bush. It's probably where you had your first kiss.
And in Canada, especially de l'Ontario, North means rock, roches, pierre- pine and spruce trees growing straight up out of solid granite.
"Au nord de notre vie", the first movement of "À la poursuite du nord", has been exciting me for thirty or so years now. Part of that is that it was an "alternative" song in its day. It used to come on the radio station CFNY and suddenly we would be listening to a song in French. This is impossible to imagine today. English stations play English songs, et le stations de radio français capter le chants en français. Since we all had taken French in high school, we could follow the song.
So going back to the first movement of "À la poursuite du nord", you have that core central image - "The North of our lives". I have already spoken about what North means to a Canadian. Then we have the "of our lives" part, which is very Québécois. OUR lives. This sense of community is almost oxygen to the Franco-Ontarien. And this is what makes CANO interesting. As a Sudbury-based ensemble, they bridge le deux solitude of English et Français.
Finally, we have the glimmering beauty of Rachel Paiement's vocal. Almost a "pure tone" singer, she carries the first movement like Cleo Lane.
Here are links to ten songs that make me proud to be Canadian. The land is strong.
CANO - Au nord de notre vie
Neil Young - Helpless
Ian Tyson - Four Strong Winds
Gordon Lightfoot - Canadian Railroad Trilogy
Rush - Lakeside Park
Bare Naked Ladies - Lovers in a Dangerous Time
Murray McLauchlan - Down by the Henry Moore
Feist - 1234 (the most perfect pop song since Sir Paul McCartney joined that skiffle band)
Nelly Furtado - Hey, Man! (Anybody else hear Stephen Reich?)
Fraser and Debolt Them Dancehall Girls (more Brecht und Weill than Lightfoot)
Special thanks to guest blogger Richard RJ Guitar LCdr RCN (Ret'd) for his suggestions.