Richard Wagamese's music playlist

Canada Reads is just a week away! To pump up the excitement leading up to the debates, Shift with Tom Allen will feature interviews with the Canada Reads authors all this week. They each created a playlist with songs they think reflect their book.

We begin today with Richard Wagamese whose novel Indian Horse is being defended by Olympic wrestling champion Carol Huynh.

You can listen to the songs he's chosen below. Check out the Shift website for Tom Allen's interview with Richard Wagamese.

Richard Wagamese's Indian Horse playlist

1. Dvorak, Serenade for Strings in E major

"It takes me back to ice rinks in the early '60s and hearing godawful-sounding music blasting from bad speakers. But it created a remarkable ambience as you learned to whirl and twirl and skate gracefully like the hockey player Jean Béliveau. It also takes me back to winter itself; the sound of footsteps crunching through the snow, branches snapping and the croak of ravens. It's the sound of the backdrop to Indian Horse."

2. Merle Haggard, Wishing All These Old Things Were New from the album If I Could Only Fly

"It's a song about a man looking back at his life and how he's finally learned to settle down, quit drinking, smoking, all the bad habits of his youth. It's Saul Indian Horse at the window of the treatment centre about to go on his voyage of self-rediscovery. It's me at 57, looking back at the trail of years that led me to here; the world of the immensely possible, happy, contented."

3. Etta James, The Rock from the album Love's Been Rough on Me

"Her most country song about how she's stood up for and behind her man until she just plumb can't handle it no more. It's soulful, uplifting and a reminder of how much strength it takes sometimes to stay and then to leave when the jig's up. It always reminds me of choices and their import, how they affect us long after we make them and in that it's about Saul looking back at his choice to leave the Kellys."

4. Richard Thompson, I Misunderstood from the album Rumor and Sigh

"The heartbreak tune at its most sublime. When you get caught looking sideways and suddenly they're gone and you're left to grapple with the ubiquitous 'why?' It always reminds me of the vagaries of life and love and the common ache we all come to understand and hopefully leave behind. It's Saul again wishing for his traditional life, family and sense of himself."

5. Miles Davis, Bye Bye Blackbird from the album 'Round About Midnight

"Vibrato-less and pure, all blue and sore and aching at the same time that it's jubilation and praise-worthy. A knockout song that reminds me when I'm writing that it's all those things that I'm shooting for in my work. It's about the notion that art doesn't need to be filled with clamour to touch us deeply."

Check the Canada Reads blog tomorrow for David Bergen's music playlist for The Age of Hope.

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