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It's Spock's illusions I recall
June 30, 2008 9:20 PM   Subscribe

Leonard Nimoy ruins Joni Mitchell. Johnny Cash redeems Gordon Lightfoot. The Donnas render Men Without Hats ever so slightly less ridiculous. The CBC assembles a list of great (and sub-great) covers of Canadian songs. And a happy Canada Day to you.
posted by bicyclefish (65 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gordon Lightfoot requires no redeeming.
posted by spock at 9:23 PM on June 30, 2008 [14 favorites]


Oh gawd. That was not Johnny Cash's finest 4.5 minutes.
posted by spock at 9:25 PM on June 30, 2008


They forgot to list absolutely anything by Carl Strygg in the awful section.
posted by dobbs at 9:34 PM on June 30, 2008


Yeah, but Lenny at least loves fat gals. I have to see how Johnny could possibly help Gordon...
posted by Oyéah at 9:39 PM on June 30, 2008


Nah, Gordon is the man.
posted by Oyéah at 9:42 PM on June 30, 2008


re: We Five
Perhaps the worst lip-sync job of the decade. Couldn't they have at least put mics on the four guys who are allegedly singing along?
posted by spock at 9:45 PM on June 30, 2008


You forgot covers of Anne Murray and Helen Reddy. Thanks Canada!
posted by miss lynnster at 9:50 PM on June 30, 2008


Alright, alright, I know I've fallen on the wrong side of Gord's Gold here. Let me redeem myself, then.

Sam Roberts is redeemed by Gordon Lightfoot. Sarah McLachlan is redeemed by Gordon Lightfoot. A remarkably long list of people with guitars reach out and touch the face of Gord.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:58 PM on June 30, 2008


I had no idea the Donnas still existed.

Happy Canada Day!
posted by loiseau at 10:03 PM on June 30, 2008


Leonard Nimoy ruins Joni Mitchell.
I find this claim highly illogical.
posted by Flunkie at 10:12 PM on June 30, 2008


Huh! Didn't know Men Without Hats was from Canadia.

And just so that we can mention RUSH here, how about some 11-to-15-year-olds covering "Limelight"?

and off topic, Trailer Park Boys is teh best TV show evar, eh? Happy canadia day!
posted by not_on_display at 10:16 PM on June 30, 2008


And there's America doing Eddie Schwartz. But no one will ever cover Gino Vannelli's chest.

Happy Cancon Day.
posted by pracowity at 10:17 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Johnny Cash redeems Gordon Lightfoot.

Are you fucking insane?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:20 PM on June 30, 2008


And just so that we can mention RUSH here

Carl Strygg covers Closer to the Heart.
posted by dobbs at 10:24 PM on June 30, 2008


And there's America doing Eddie Schwartz

Holy crap. I had no idea what that was. The original got a lot of radio play in my childhood. Thanks, man.

Here's another Toronto born rendition. Pukka Orchestra's take on Tom Robinson's Listen to the Radio. (no, I have no idea who "Pegs and Kath" are).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:29 PM on June 30, 2008


One more for the road.

And from YouTube I drew an Hallelujah:

Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Hallelujah, Halleluja,
Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Hallelujah, Halleloo - oo - jah.
posted by bicyclefish at 10:29 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


From that CBC link:

The Strange:

Nazareth, This Flight Tonight (Joni Mitchell)


Hold on now. That Nazareth version is a classic!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:35 PM on June 30, 2008


I have no clue as to why the Guns n' Roses (well yes and Bubbles) cover of Liquor and Whores didn't make it up there.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:35 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Huh! Didn't know Men Without Hats was from Canadia.

Jenny played keyboard, johnny played drums,
Called little baby and a big bonhomme
Everybody tell me have you heard? pop goes the world.

The big bonhomme? Oh yeah. They're Canadian.

Oh, and yeah -- Happy Canada Day!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:37 PM on June 30, 2008


Gordon Lightfoot requires no redeeming.

Interesting. I came in just to say that he was irredeemable - so I guess we balance it out, spock.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:47 PM on June 30, 2008


The Herbie Hancock and Corinne Bailey Rae version of River is sublime.

Happy Canada Day!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 11:42 PM on June 30, 2008


This seems an appropriate place to put this link; I don't think it merits its own FPP:

Canadians are proud of some things, and not others. Angus-Reid poll, perhaps two dozen things listed. Parliment: not proud of it. Our military: very proud of it. Etcetera.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:55 PM on June 30, 2008


This seems an appropriate place to post this before someone else does:

Canada has a military?
posted by an egg at 12:24 AM on July 1, 2008


Ah, Cash vs. Lightfoot. The battle of the ages.

Johnny's hard to bet against, having done it all for the Lord and whatnot. OTOH, it's hard to think of Gord as anything less than the folky epitome of guyness. I mean, cripes, could anyone else write a song about drinking coffee, going on beer runs, lighting the barbecue and just generally Flintstoning it up on the weekend -- and sell it?

May the spirit of June forgive me but gotta call this one a tie, I think.
posted by Opposite George at 12:24 AM on July 1, 2008


And did anyone else notice that Nimoy bit the title of Gord's 2nd album for his own? Man, that Lightfoot gets around...
posted by Opposite George at 12:29 AM on July 1, 2008


Some moron: Johnny Cash redeems Gordon Lightfoot.

Are you fucking insane?

Well said, Durn Bronzefist. But Johnny did do an excellent cover of "Bird On A Wire" that I think even Leonard would approve. This is a funny list. Can any Canadian who can remember the 60s... okay, forget it. I'm dated. But recall (if you can) We Five's version of "You Were On My Mind". Jesus! Didn't you want to strangle those imperialist American A-holes?

And an egg, oh yes, Canada has a military. It's in Afghanifuckingstan cleaning up American miscues even as we speak. But, oh, I want them out by next Canada Day at least. And, in the meanwhile, I will continue giving what aid I can to American War Resisters who have fled to this happy land!
Happy Canada Day, everyone! We mean you no harm.
posted by CCBC at 1:02 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I guess I posted my Canadian story a little too soon.
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:05 AM on July 1, 2008


I like Gordon Lightfoot, but I don't understand what he's singing aboot.
posted by Jofus at 1:46 AM on July 1, 2008


I prefer Johnny Cash doing Depeche Mode.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:08 AM on July 1, 2008


The Boston Celtics cover Gino Vannelli.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:47 AM on July 1, 2008


Nice post, bicyclefish. The godawful Tom Cochran cover you linked to really is horrible, horrible, horrible. My son, now five, loves the movie "Cars", and we of course bought the soundtrack for him. And of course he loves the wretched, wretched "new country" cover of "Life is a Highway", and forces us to play it and play it and play it. Ugh.

My best memory of that song was driving to Cochrane (!), Alberta in 1990 or so. We were on the Trans-Canada, just east of Kamloops, and passing a long, long freight train, humming along to "Life is a Highway" which was playing on the radio. And I've been embarrassed about doing so ever since.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:51 AM on July 1, 2008


Making Men Without Hats less ridiculous is like repainting Dali's pictures so that they look a bit more sensible.
posted by Phanx at 5:28 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I love Gordon Lightfoot but Johnny's version is absolutely heartbreaking. Dude sounds like he's falling to pieces.
posted by RockCorpse at 5:50 AM on July 1, 2008


I like that cover of Lightfoot, but it needs no redeeming.

Cash's cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" reinvents that song and makes the original sound like petulant teenage angst. It's a masterpiece.
posted by DWRoelands at 5:51 AM on July 1, 2008


The Cash version of the song is indeed pretty touching - but the idiotic, literal-minded video linked to makes it cheap and cloying. It's the YouTube equivalent of a Hendrix video that features nothing but cars driving because the lyrics are about "cross-town traffic".

If you just open it in the background and listen, it's great. Watching it, not good.

But I still like the Lightfoot version better. Gord is the man. Now I'm going to have to go play Canadian Railway Trilogy over and over... any song using the word "muskeg" has to be a great song, right?
posted by caution live frogs at 6:07 AM on July 1, 2008


the egg: Canada has a military?

Canada has an Afghanistan?
posted by RockCorpse at 6:08 AM on July 1, 2008


KokuRyu: My 3 year old loves that movie as well, and every time that cover version comes on in them movie I cringe a little more. What's worse is Rascal Flatts was on "Live From Abbey Road" last week, and that's the song they lead off with. Almost like an admission that they're a crappy country cover band.

Here's What It Should Sound Like

and The Donnas covering "Safety Dance" was even more dreadful. I can't think of more than a handful of times when a cover is as good or better than an original.

You want an interesting (and warped) cover of something a Canadian performed and made popular, how about Devo covering "Ohio". Made even more relevant by the fact that the key members of DEVO were students at Kent State during the shootings. It's not better than the original, but at least it's interesting why they would choose to cover it.
posted by inthe80s at 6:08 AM on July 1, 2008


I'm confused as to why Gordon Lightfoot is referenced so many times. Is he a lot bigger in Canada than he was in the States?
posted by taumeson at 6:17 AM on July 1, 2008


PS: Hope our neighbors to the north (well, mostly to the north - in places you're south of us) have/had a happy Canada day. Please excuse us while we attempt to blow ourselves up again on the 4th. It's kind of a tradition with us Americans, we like things that go "boom" when we're celebrating stuff. Or bombing people. Whichever. Come on, "bombs bursting in air"! It's in our national anthem, for cripes sake*! Your song is nice and all, but where are the explosions?

*Canadian friend of mine once pointedly expressed her distaste for a song about explosions as a national anthem. I can't help but think that I agree with her, and wish we had the good grace to choose something a little less bloodthirsty, like "America the Beautiful". Oh Canada, once again your goodwill and common sense have bested us! Just remember, you need us! Without us, your comics and actors would have no place to become famous, and your hockey players would no longer be able to play the game they love in such appropriate places as barren deserts and Gulf Coast states!
posted by caution live frogs at 6:17 AM on July 1, 2008


World's worst cover of Gordon Lightfoot: a "rap" version of Sundown by Elwood, an American studio project featuring Prince Elwood Strickland III (!). Listen and cringe...

Sundown
posted by spoobnooble at 6:22 AM on July 1, 2008


caution live frogs: as a Canadian, I gotta say I actually really like the American national anthem (it is a bit long winded, though...reads like Alice's Restaurant Massacree). However, the English translation of the French version of Oh Canada involves swords! And brilliant exploits!
O Canada! Land of our forefathers
Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers.
As in thy arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross.
Thy history is an epic of the most brilliant exploits.

Thy valour steeped in faith
Will protect our homes and our rights
Will protect our homes and our rights.
posted by RockCorpse at 6:45 AM on July 1, 2008


Canada has a military?

Don't make me trigger the devices codenamed Celine Dion, Cirque de Soliel, Brian Adams or Mike Myers. You will regret it.
posted by srboisvert at 6:54 AM on July 1, 2008


Agree with spock. Gordon Lightfoot needs nothing.
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:01 AM on July 1, 2008


Happy Canada Gordon Lightfoot Day!

I'm confused as to why Gordon Lightfoot is referenced so many times. Is he a lot bigger in Canada than he was in the States?

I would have to assume so, being that he's one of our own. I've never met anyone of any age in Canada that doesn't totally love the guy. Uhm, you know we have tv, and radio, and recorded materials here, right? :D We've given him 15 Juno awards, he's in the Canadian Hall of Fame, has a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame, and was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, which is the highest civilian honour here.

hee! This reminds of the time my family was playing a game of charades & some joker (me) put "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" in the hat, and my god-mom picked it. Watching her work it out was the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life and I will never forgive myself for having not filmed it. And to this day, every so often she'll punch me in the arm, hard, and walk away humming that song, lol.
posted by zarah at 7:20 AM on July 1, 2008


I can't think of more than a handful of times when a cover is as good or better than an original.

Have you tried searching for covers where you don't like the original?

For instance, listen (while ignoring the crappy video) to the Gourds covering Snoop Dogg. Hilarious.
posted by roystgnr at 7:51 AM on July 1, 2008


That Donna's version sucked.
posted by oddman at 8:07 AM on July 1, 2008


I'm confused as to why Gordon Lightfoot is referenced so many times. Is he a lot bigger in Canada than he was in the States?

"Bigger"? I doubt it. I was introduced to Gordon Lightfoot (beyond his radio singles) by a cousin, who in 1979, dedicated "Song for a Winter Night" to my fiancé and I. I got Gords Gold shortly thereafter and it is still one of the 5 albums I would have to take with me to a desert island. I live in Nebraska and I don't like him because he's popular. But I've also gotten to see him in concert twice (and I'm not a big concert goer) where he was outstanding. I was surprised to see that the old bugger is still touring, and I hope to get to see him one more time. Gordon Lightfoot is a consummate singer/songwriter, and I think the respect he is given by other musicians says more about how "big" he is than his popularity among the general populace. The word is overused, but I find his songwriting and voice truly sublime. And if you want heartbreaking, listen to his "Circle is Small".

Big (popular) beer: Budweiser
Big (awesome) beer: Maudite (but a lot fewer people drink/appreciate Maudite).
posted by spock at 8:26 AM on July 1, 2008


I meant to say that I doubt he is bigger in the U.S. than in Canada.
posted by spock at 8:29 AM on July 1, 2008


I can't think of more than a handful of times when a cover is as good or better than an original.

You may be interested in this AskMe thread.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:37 AM on July 1, 2008


For almost 30 years, Bryan Adams has delivered two kinds of product with ruthless efficiency... . No one wants to hear his canon reinterpreted for the dance floor.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:39 AM on July 1, 2008


One glaring omission is Nicolette Larson's cover of Neil Young's "Lotta Love." (You can categorize it however you like, but it was a huge hit.)

pracowity: But no one will ever cover Gino Vannelli's chest .

Eugene Levy did just fine, lip-synching the song on SCTV as he turned into a werewolf. (It would have been much funnier to show it to you, but all the SCTV stuff appears to have been purged from YouTube.)
posted by evilcolonel at 8:48 AM on July 1, 2008


The dig against Lightfoot is unforgivable. That Cash version is an abomination.

You have gained an enemy, bicyclefish. A small, powerless enemy.
posted by unixrat at 8:53 AM on July 1, 2008


Man, who knew Heart was considered Canadian?
posted by pised at 9:18 AM on July 1, 2008


Heh ... Beauty, eh?



~~ Go Red Wings, hosers!
posted by aldus_manutius at 9:25 AM on July 1, 2008


Neko Case's cover of Lisa Marr's 'In California' is awesome.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:35 AM on July 1, 2008


Catherine Wheel does Rush.
Joe Cocker sings Cohen.
and, maybe Canadian on Canadian action doesn't count, but Sarah Polley covers the Hip.
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:42 AM on July 1, 2008


O Canada! Land of our forefathers
Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers.
As in thy arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross.
Thy history is an epic of the most brilliant exploits.

Thy valour steeped in faith
Will protect our homes and our rights


Hm. Uh, hi, Quebec? Yeah, you know what? You can leave after all.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:56 AM on July 1, 2008


I must defend the Leonard Nimoy. The cover works.

See, Spock is a Vulcan. Vulcans are logical and not emotional; they may examine love from many angles, but can never truly understand it. Also, he flies around a lot and probably sees lots of clouds and whatnot.

That said, yeah, it's unlistenable. Let's face it, though: The original wasn't so hot to begin with.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:04 PM on July 1, 2008


Happy Canada Day!
I know they're not covers, but this day comes but once a year. Enjoy the Can-Con!
posted by Hoopo at 12:06 PM on July 1, 2008


My favorite Canadian tune is one I can't imagine anyone else covering: Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:40 PM on July 1, 2008


Hm. Uh, hi, Quebec? Yeah, you know what? You can leave after all.

Swords, mthrfckr. I cut you!
posted by RockCorpse at 12:42 PM on July 1, 2008


However, the English translation of the French version of Oh Canada involves swords! And brilliant exploits!

O Canada! Land of our forefathers
Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers.
As in thy arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross.
Thy history is an epic of the most brilliant exploits.

Thy valour steeped in faith
Will protect our homes and our rights
Will protect our homes and our rights.!


Apparently (ironically?) the French version was the original. English Canadians just liked the tune and made up their own lyrics, creating a whole whack of different versions (as Peter Kuitenbrouwer briefly describes in this article).
posted by Kabanos at 2:39 PM on July 1, 2008


You want an interesting (and warped) cover of something a Canadian performed and made popular, how about Devo covering "Ohio". Made even more relevant by the fact that the key members of DEVO were students at Kent State during the shootings. It's not better than the original, but at least it's interesting why they would choose to cover it.

I can't remember the exact circumstances, but Neil Young was either in the same studio as or actually jamming around with DEVO around the time of the Trans sessions. As I recall, it was DEVO that provided him with the phrase "Rust Never Sleeps" - it was a line from like an Armor All ad jingle or something that DEVO were goofing on, and it stuck in ole Neil's memory, and so in some small way, we have DEVO to thank for Neil's masterwork.

This has been your Canada Day installment of Great Moments in Expat Canuck History. For more information on the exploits of expat Canucks, consult the credits of your favourite comedy.
posted by gompa at 4:11 PM on July 1, 2008


k d lang does bruce cockburn's one day i walk
the stereophonics doing the hip's fiddler's green
the black crowes do the band's the night they drove old dixie down
and ick, lil mama remixes and raps avril lavigne's girlfriend
posted by pyramid termite at 7:04 PM on July 1, 2008


Gompa: See Human Highway.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:23 PM on July 1, 2008


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