More than once after telling a non-Canuck that I work in the Canadian music industry I’ve been met with, “Canada has a music industry?” Um, yes. Like, excuse me sir (always a sir), but you’re a fairly basic young man, don’t you know where Drake, The Weeknd, or Justin Bieber are from?
So, yes, Canada has a very vibrant music scene with a deep well of amazing current artists and music history alike. From the busker days of Yorkville, to the current music scenes in Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Halifax, Canada has been churning out quality tunes for decades.
The Ultimate Canadian Road Trip Playlist
(Scroll to the bottom to skip my musings and find the extended playlist in Spotify form!)
1. The Tragically Hip “Wheat Kings”
2. The Sheepdogs “I Don’t Know”
A band from Saskatchewan who eventually headed over to Toronto to make it in the music industry. Sounds like someone I know…
3. The Guess Who “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon”
One of my favorites from Winnipeg’s finest.
4. Sam Roberts “Bridge to Nowhere”
Just try not to sing along to this ditty from Quebec-born musician Sam Roberts.
5. Alanis Morissette “Hand In My Pocket”
A classic from 90’s queen Alanis Morissette. Fun fact, I saw her perform a few years at the Juno Awards in Hamilton, Ontario and she’s just as cool as well all thought her to be.
6. K-OS “Sunday Morning”
Don’t pretend like you didn’t jam to this in your car on your way to high school.
7. Peaches “Set It Off “(Explicit, obviously.)
If you’re ever looking for some excellent entertainment, listen to Marc Maron’s WTF interview with Toronto-born Peaches. Her stories about growing up in a conservative Jewish family will shine a whole new light on her stage presence.
8. Jully Black “Seven Day Fool”
I first met Jully Black when I was in music business school (like 8 years ago, eek), and her notes on how to make it in the industry were spot on and very influential. Plus, this song just rocks.
9. Shawn Mendes “Treat You Better”
I get to put a guilty pleasure in here, right? Right…?
10. Arcade Fire “Creature Comfort”
I’ll admit that Arcade Fire took a while to grow on me. But now I can’t get enough of some of their songs.. this one included.
11. Neil Young with Crazy Horse “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”
One of Canada’s finest, Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” is one of my all time favorite songs.
12. Rush “The Spirit Of Radio”
I’ll admit that i’m only really into Rush for their radio hits, despite spending an arm and a leg to see them in 2012. It was all worth it for Neil Peart.
13. Steppenwolf “Hoochie Coochie Man”
Although formed in Los Angeles, three of the original members were indeed from Oshawa, Ontario.. proof that you can get out of Oshawa.
14. Gordon Lightfoot “Carefree Highway”
A Canadian folk staple, Gordon Lightfoot has been inspiring hippies to lay down in venue aisles and light up their joints for decades.
15. Blue Rodeo “Rose Coloured Glasses”
One of my more treasured items is a cookbook gifted by these guys, true story.
16. Joni Mitchell “Big Yellow Taxi”
While more commonly known for using the hilly streets of Laurel Canyon as her muse, Joni Mitchell was indeed born in Saskatchewan before honing her chops on the streets of Toronto’s Yorkville.
17. k.d. lang “Summerfling”
Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, k.d. lang cut her chops on the prairie club scene before earning her first Juno Award in 1985 for “Most Promising Female Vocalist.”
18. Rufus Wainwright “Foolish Love”
The son of Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III, Rufus was destined to become a fabulous musician in his own right. Although, I admit my introduction to him was though his rendition of Hallelujah on the Shrek soundtrack.. anyone else?
19. Buffy Sainte-Marie “Universal Solider”
If you’re at all interested in 1960’s protest music, you should be into Buffy Sainte-Marie.
20. The Band “The Weight”
Written by Robbie Robertson, “The Weight” is a classic, but I just couldn’t leave it behind.
21. Feist “Mushaboom”
Everyone knows “1,2,3,4” so here’s “Mushaboom”, an equally fantastic song from Canadian folk singer Feist.
22. Tegan and Sara “Walking With a Ghost”
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tegan and Sara a few times now, and while I’ve seen them grow in their style and songwriting abilities, it always comes back to “Walking With a Ghost.”
23. Barenaked Ladies “Old Apartment”
There are plenty of well-known Barenaked Ladies songs I could have included on this list, but “Old Apartment”, in which they describe living on the Danforth in Toronto, makes me yearn for my T.Dot days.
24. Bif Naked “I Love Myself Today”
I don’t care which way your music tastes sway, when this song comes on, you headbang.
25. The New Pornographers “Dancehall Domine”
An undeniably dance-able track from Vancouverites The New Pornographers.
26. Alexisonfire “Young Cardinals”
If I had to take a guess, I would have to suspect that roughly 75% of all Canadians between the ages of 25 and 35 are completely obsessed with anything and everything Dallas Green. Me, I’ve always swayed more Alexisonfire than City and Colour.
27. Our Lady Peace “Clumsy”
If you ever get a chance to see OLP live, do. It’s basically just Raine Maida swinging from the rafters while wearing plaid.
28. Cowboy Junkies “A Horse In The Country”
A more twangy selection than much of the other songs on this list, but Cowboy Junkies are a Toronto staple.
29. Billy Talent “Devil On My Shoulder”
One night after partying at the Bovine Sex Club in Toronto with some friends, a coworker, a couple of the guys from Billy Talent, and their blonde-haired friend (who’s name I’m keeping to myself today), my coworker turned to me and said, you know that blonde guy? Billy Talent wrote “Devil On My Shoulder” about him.
I don’t know if this story means anything to you, but it’s why I chose this song in particular.
30. Fucked Up “Queen of Hearts”
If you’ve ever experienced the Toronto music scene, you know Fucked Up. My advice is to listen to this with the lyrics in front of you.
31. Spirit Of The West “Home For a Rest”
One of the ultimate Canadian bangers, and a song any beer-chugging canuck can empathize with.
32. Sloan “The Rest of My Life”
For some reason, I’m always shocked when my American friends don’t know Sloan. Like, what do you mean you’ve never heard “The Rest of My Life”?!
I know I said I’ll share the rest of my days but I was only going through a phase
33. Tom Cochrane “Life Is A Highway”
I wasn’t going to put Tom Cochrane on this list for fear of sheer cheese, but if you’re thinking of the quintessential road trip song – well, yeah it’s probably this.
Also, please don’t recommend the Rascal Flatts version to me, k thanks.
Check out the extended Ultimate Canadian Road Trip Playlist on Spotify!
Like this post? Pin it!