Biologist and music festival organizer Bob Hayes shares favourite songs

Bob Hayes talks about five songs that mark some of the biggest moments in his life.

'I went with the songs that are the soundtrack of my life'

Bob Hayes talks about five songs that mark some of the biggest moments in his life. (submitted by Bob Hayes)

When we ask people to be part of our Music That Matters feature, we leave things pretty wide open. The five songs can be tunes that remind the subject of their favourite holidays, or five songs that influenced their own music careers.

Former biologist and music festival organizer Bob Hayes thought a little bigger.

"I went with the songs that are the soundtrack of my life."

Hayes' first choice is a song he remembered hearing on the radio growing up in North Bay, Ontario, when he used to tune in stations from all over the region late at night.

"Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison was kind of life changing," he said. "That's when I understood there was power in music, and sixties music was fabulous for learning how music can affect you because it was so variable and so different and affected you in so many ways."

Hayes' second choice was from an early solo effort from Emmylou Harris, a track called Boulder to Birmingham. The record came out in 1975, which was also the year Hayes moved to the Yukon with his wife, Caroline, and their daughter, Kelly.

"Becoming a Yukoner in 1975 and driving up the Alaska Highway, and stopping at Jakes Corner and saying, 'this is it, this is the place we have to live' — that was really meaningful."

Hayes chose Ribbon of Darkness by Gordon Lightfoot as his third choice, but he prefers the version from Rick Fines.

"I don't really care for Lightfoot's version because it's too fast, it sounds too much like a poppy folk song," he said. "Rick plays it with a dobro, and I just love how he does it.... It's much slower and much more depressing, but kind of in a wonderful, bluesy way."

"The next one is total bluegrass," Hayes said of his fourth choice. "It's got to be, because we ran the [Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival] for 10 years with so many great people."

Michael Cleveland was an award-winning artist when he came to the festival in Haines Junction, backed by some of the top players in the genre, and Hayes said that's when he and the rest of the team putting the festival together realized they were on the map.

Hayes' final choice is a song from the late John Prine.

"It has to be, right?" he said. "He really was the soundtrack of the life Caroline and I had in the Yukon.... He wrote so many wonderful songs, and the one I picked was You Got Gold, but I chose the version by Yukon singer Kevin Barr."

It's a very personal choice for Hayes.

"It's for my wife Caroline.... There's a line in there that says, 'You got gold, you got gold inside of you,' and that is Caroline. That's why it's so meaningful to me. She's got gold, and it's kind of rubbed off on me a little bit."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.