In 2007, Bob Mersereau, a music writer from the Maritimes, tore the music geek blogosphere asunder as he compiled a book called The Top 100 Canadian Albums.
It was an interesting exercise in cultural nation-building, the result of input from hundreds of people across the country as he tried to come up with the definitive list. Maybe you remember the accusations of regional, gender and era bias. At least it got us talking about Canadian music.
Mersereau is now looking for the top 100 Canadian singles of all time and he asked that I submit a top 10 list as part of the process.
Honestly, though, I’d procrastinated because frankly, I didn’t know where to start. Complicating matters is that I’m from the world of album rock radio where the notion of “singles” didn’t have any real meaning for years. And to screw things up further, I’ve long been part of the alt-rock scene, immersed in some of the most obscure and/or left-wing stuff this country has ever produced.
But I had to submit something. Here’s what I sent:
1. At the Hundredth Meridian, Tragically Hip
2. High School Confidential, Rough Trade
3. One More Astronaut, I Mother Earth
4. Screaming Fist, The Viletones
5. Spirit of Radio, Rush
6. American Woman, Guess Who
7. Born to Be Wild, Steppenwolf
8. The Lines You Amend, Sloan
9. Echo Beach, Martha and the Muffins
10. Old Man, Neil Young
From the moment I hit the “send” button, I had regrets. Why did I pick Sloan’s The Lines You Amend when I really meant Underwhelmed? What about Jane Siberry’s Mimi on the Beach?
How could I have not included Sarah McLachlan, Skinny Puppy, the Barenaked Ladies, Propagandhi, Teenage Head, the Forgotten Rebels or Max Webster? What about Kim Mitchell and Go for a Soda?
Then there’s Chalk Circle, BTO, Gordon Lightfoot! Baby Ran from 54-40! April Wine’s not here. There’s nothing from The Band on this list! Hallelujah from Leonard Cohen is missing! Is my genre bias showing by not including any hip hop? How could I leave out Life is a Highway or Big League from Tom Cochrane? And why At the Hundredth Meridian and not New Orleans is Sinking? Recall! Recall!
I hate this. I got it all wrong. I quit.
If you can do better, Mersereau says to send your list directly to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on stations across Canada. Read more at ongoinghistory.com and exploremusic.com