Friday, June 12, 2009

Recommended Canadian Content of the Week: Barenaked Ladies

I remember first becoming aware of Barenaked Ladies when CBC Radio began playing If I Had $1,000,000 and Be My Yoko Ono and interviewing the band before the album Gordon was released. I was struck by their humour (Canadian spelling intentional) and their musical skill was evident.

I bought Gordon as soon as it was available, and it's still one of my favorite albums (by any group or artist). It was very popular in Canada, especially with my circle of friends. I've seen them live twice, and enjoyed their improvisation and sense of humor—they seemed to really enjoy performing, playing music and each other's company.

The Wikipedia article on them is very interesting reading. Don't miss the first two paragraphs under "Indie Origins". I searched YouTube and found this short excerpt of their Speaker's Corner performance of Be My Yoko Ono. (See the last paragraph under "Indie Origins".)

I admire the group for the unabashed Canadian references in their music, even after their success in the U.S. They seem proud of their origins, but are not humorlessly patriotic. Growing up in Canada I was always aware of Canadian artists, and it irked me when (it seemed to me) they forced American references into their music as if they were ashamed of where they were from. (I should collect examples of this. I don't think it would be hard to find several.) Now, of course, I realize this wasn't out of shame but was probably a desperate attempt to increase their chances of commercial success south of the 49th.

My father mentioned during my parents' recent visit that the band had broken up. Actually (at least according to Wikipedia), Steven Page has left the group. I'm sorry to hear that—the band of course won't be the same without him—but I wish him and the remaining BNL members good luck in their continued careers. I'll follow them all with anticipation of more good music.

A couple more of my favorite songs of theirs:

I also recommend their childrens' album Snack Time. I'm always happy to listen to that with the kids. The song The Canadian Snacktime Trilogy i) Snacktime is a lovely tribute to Gordon Lightfoot. And Crazy ABC's is hilarious.

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