Obama playlist strikes chord for Canada

Two songs by Joni Mitchell, Gilles Vigneault's classic Mon Pays and Oscar Peterson's civil rights anthem Hymn to Freedom are on the playlist Canadians have built for U.S. president-elect Barack Obama.

Two songs by Joni Mitchell, Gilles Vigneault's classic Mon Pays and Oscar Peterson's civil rights anthem Hymn to Freedom are on the playlist Canadians have built for U.S. president-elect Barack Obama.

CBC Radio 2 listeners were asked to select the top 49 songs from north of the 49th parallel to help define Canada for the incoming president.

From Jan. 5 to Jan. 16, more than 130,000 people cast votes for the final list of songs. It was released Tuesday.

"I absolutely expected the list to be as wide and as celebratory as it is," said Denise Donlon, executive director of English Radio.

"The thing that was most wonderful for me was to be reminded of how musically knowledgeable and heartfelt Radio 2 listeners are."

Few listeners sent in a simple nomination — instead, they went to bat for their choice, explaining the cultural and historical significance in essays, emails and phone calls.

Glenn Gould's recording of  The Goldberg Variations was an early favourite among voters, but they also chose other classical works such as Canadian violinist James Ehnes's Barber Violin Concerto.

It was a battle to the finish in the pop/rock/urban category, with Rush's Closer to the Heart edging out Gordon Lightfoot's Canadian Railroad Trilogy as the top song.

However, two of Lightfoot's songs were included: Railroad Trilogy and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.


Two Mitchell favourites — Both Sides Now and A Case of You — made the list. There are also double doses of Canadian artists Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Oscar Peterson and the Tragically Hip.

Canada's years of protest are represented by Buffy Sainte-Marie's Universal Soldier, its national sport by Stompin' Tom Connors's The Hockey Song and its sense of humour by the Arrogant Worms' Canada's Really Big.

Donlon said it was difficult to stop at just 49 songs.

"The thing that was really difficult about it was here's the cut line at 49 and the next dozen songs you go, 'Oh, I wish we had room,'" she said.

The whole list, in alphabetical order by the artist's first name:

  • Arcade Fire, Rebellion (Lies).
  • Barenaked Ladies, If I Had $1,000,000.
  • Beau Dommage, La complainte du phoque en Alaska.
  • Ben Heppner, We'll Gather Lilacs.
  • Bruce Cockburn, Wondering Where the Lions Are.
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie, Universal Soldier.
  • Daniel Bélanger, Rêver mieux.
  • Daniel Lanois, Jolie Louise.
  • Daniel Lavoie, J'ai quitté mon île.
  • Diana Krall, Departure Bay.
  • Gilles Vigneault, Mon pays.
  • Glenn Gould,  The Goldberg Variations.
  • Gordon Lightfoot, Canadian Railroad Trilogy.
  • Gordon Lightfoot, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
  • Great Big Sea, Ordinary Day.
  • Harmonium, Pour un instant.
  • Ian & Sylvia, Four Strong Winds.
  • James Ehnes, Barber Violin Concerto.
  • Jesse Cook, Mario Takes a Walk.
  • Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now.
  • Joni Mitchell, A Case of You.
  • Karkwa, Oublie pas.
  • k.d. lang, Hallelujah.
  • Leonard Cohen, Democracy.
  • Leonard Cohen, Suzanne.
  • Malajube, Montréal –40 C.
  • Marie-Jo Thério, Évangeline.
  • Marjan Mozetich, Affairs of the Heart.
  • Measha Brueggergosman, I'm Going Up a Yonder.
  • Mes Aïeux, Dégénérations.
  • Michael Bublé, Home.
  • Moe Koffman, Swingin' Shepherd Blues.
  • Neil Young, Rockin' In the Free World.
  • Neil Young, Helpless.
  • Oscar Peterson Trio, Hymn to Freedom.
  • Oscar Peterson, Place St. Henri (from Canadiana Suite).
  • Parachute Club, Rise Up.
  • Raymond Lévesque, Quand Les Hommes Vivront D'amour.
  • Rush, Closer to the Heart.
  • Sam Roberts, The Canadian Dream.
  • Shad, Brother (Watching).
  • Stan Rogers, Northwest Passage.
  • Stompin' Tom Connors, The Hockey Song.
  • The Arrogant Worms, Canada's Really Big.
  • The Guess Who, American Woman.
  • The Tragically Hip, Wheat Kings.
  • The Tragically Hip, Bobcaygeon.
  • The Rankin Family, Rise Again.
  • The Weakerthans, One Great City!

CBC Radio 2 will be playing the Obama playlist, starting Tuesday, along with comments from listeners about the process. The list is also available for purchase on iTunes.