Recognizable OOC Recipients 04: Musicians

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell

There are actually quite a number of Order of Canada recipients that are musicians. More musicians will appear in later installments.

Saskatoon native Joni Mitchell graced our radios in the decades since the sixties with her folk/pop singing that had been the influence of a great many musicians worldwide. Some of her album covers were self-drawn, and one was a self-portrait. She was made a companion of the Order of Canada in 2004.

paul_anka
Paul Anka

Going back a generation in music history, Ottawa-born Paul Anka is only two years older than Joni, but had his first hit song at age 15 when Diana went to the top of the Billboard charts in 1957, and was a hit on both sides of the Canada-US border. He continued to produce hit singles well into the 1980s. Greatest hits compilations have been showing up as recently as 2013

Facts About Canada

I have some things to say in response to Mark Rayner’s article, as personal reflections. BTW, Rayner did the usual good write-up job with these kinds of articles. But you know, I can’t read these kinds of “What is a Canadian” article without making a lot of mental responses. Here are my responses to a selection of his articles.

Gordon LightfootInternational Stars. The Canadian vocalists who obtained international fame which Rayner focuses on are the later stars of the past 20 or so years. One exception is his mention of Joni Mitchell. Contrasting the music of Joni Mitchell or The Band with anything in the past 20 years is interesting. For one thing, raw talent is passed up for what becomes instead a compromise between good looks and talent. Today’s talent are more the product of focus groups than anything. In the past 2 or 3 decades, I doubt that anything will have the same staying power as a song like “Big Yellow Taxi” or “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. The only really compelling conclusion is that our music has become more American. I only thank God he didn’t mention Justin Bieber.
Toronto Maple LeafsHockey. My connection with hockey is that my dad drove the Zamboni in Maple Leaf Gardens back in the late 60s/early 70s when rooting for the Leafs actually meant something. Strangely, I was never that much into hockey, and only vaguely know the rules. I also find it obscene that, as of late, the season now goes into mid-June. I don’t know what impression that gives the rest of the world, but trust us you guys, we do have other things to do with our spare time aside from watching or playing hockey. Frankly, since the Leafs are probably now one of the worst teams in the NHL, and have been for decades, I wouldn’t mind if the team got sold to, say, a franchise in Florida or something. Hey, it isn’t that far to go if you want to see them that bad … want to see them lose that bad.
Tim Horton’s. Nope. Not a fan. Coffee’s too weak; and I can taste the lard in the doughnuts. Oatmeal raisin cookies are OK, but sometimes they seem to be half-cooked. Starbuck’s has me spoiled for coffee. I am not fond of most of their pastries either, but the quality is more even from store to store. I’m fussy about my pastries. And thank God, since it keeps me from over-eating even more than I already do. There are few to no 24-hour Starbucks franchises, and thank God for that too, since that keeps my caffeine addiction levels at bay. If they put addictive rocket-fuel derivatives in Timmy’s coffee as Rayner quipped, it didn’t work on me.
The CBC. The CBC may be needed to keep the zombies at bay, but I think that it serves as a foil to media to the south of us. I think this is important, since I wish to be informed of the talent arising in our country (in all fields, not just entertainment), and of news. This kind of thing does not fare so well when it is done commercially, but it is necessary to keep us from being alienated from happenings inside our own borders. What Rayner doesn’t mention is that they also have CBC Radio 3. What Radio 3 is, is an internet feed of streaming music from Canadian talent. I think this is an incredible service, and if you are looking for music that is really different from what your local radio station is playing, then I highly recommend tuning into it. And what’s best, there are no ads, and very little to no chatting from announcers. It’s like listening to college radio non-stop (to me, that’s a good thing).
William Shatner. I don’t think readers of my blog will believe me if I come out in agreement with whatever fawning remarks Rayner has about Shatner. Not after all those crappy album covers I’ve had of him prior to 2010. OK, I admit his “I AM CANADIAN” rant parody was pretty good.

Click on any image to get to the originating blog or website where the image originated.

Happy Canada Day, everyone!

Why I’ve Avoided Discussing Certain CACs

Crappy Album Covers have been a staple of this blog for over a year now.  I think I may have posted over 400 album covers in that time, and I have particularly, but not always, targeted the unintentionally bad ones.

There have been certain themes/artists/genres I have avoided:

Metal: I’ve said it before that many metal/punk/hard rock bands release sucky/disturbing covers on purpose, because they know their audience will buy the record/cd. Picking on metal or punk bands would be like shooting fish in a barrel. I have made exceptions (Pantera and Stryken, notably) when the album crosses the line of bad taste to unintentional bad taste.

Bob Dylan: I’ve noticed on some blogs, many commenters pick on Dylan’s albums as a source of bad album art. Face it, folks. Nobody buys Dylan for the album cover, so no one cares. However, in a future post, I make a point that there is a Dylan album art concept that is getting a bit repetitive: the blurry-photo-of-Dylan-in-concert idea. Oh, and yeah, there was also that Starbucks promo CD I discussed earlier.

Nobody buys Leonard Cohen for his album art, either. Or Joni Mitchell for hers, even when she draws the covers herself in crayon (Ladies of the Canyon, and Court and Spark, I believe are two examples) .

Most “lounge lizard” acts and Gospel acts are the same way. For the most part, you tend to get a picture of the artist, the album title, and at least a partial track listing. The whole intent is predictability, and a total avoidance of any artistic risk-taking. Lounge acts start crossing the line, however, when they become too grandiose, or too “nerdy”, or show a total lack of thought in the photo/artwork.

This is at least a partial rendition of my thought processes when making these CAC entries.