Great Big Sea

The band was formed in St. Johns, Newfoundland and had their first gig in 1993 followed by their first of ten albums. While they are no longer together as broke up some time after the departure of Séan McCann in 2013, they made an indelible mark on the Canadian music landscape. The lead singer Alan Doyle is a friend and co-performer with actor Russel Crowe, they met through another actor and Newfoundlander Allan Hawco.

They had a blend of traditional and Maritime songs along with some great original material as in the song above, “Ordinary Day” was written by Doyle and McCann. Part of the song below, which is a cover of a popular Newfoundland Folk song was used by Russel Crowe in his movie State of Play.

Jayli Wolf

Wolf was born in Creston, British Columbia and her heritage is that of the Saulteaux or Plains Ojibwe First Nations, although she new little of this growing up as she was raised Jehovah’s Witness. Jayli has overcome much in her lifetime and that experience comes through in her music. Our First Nations peoples in Canada have a story that needs to be heard. I was struck by the lyrics in the songs and the way that Jayli is telling part of it, as well as her own.

Here is a link to Jayli’s Youtube channel.

The Top 10 Most Covered Folk Songs of all time

Folk Music

You may just want to skip down to the list. That’s ok, but to understand how that list was developed, there are many things to consider. When we hear the term Folk Music, it can mean different things, depending on your country of origin. To begin, we need to talk about traditional songs, those mostly acoustic-storytelling, patriotic, protest or with commentary on social issues. In the US and Canada these songs, in large majority came from the UK, Ireland and Europe. They have been passed on by oral tradition. There are a number of archives that have lists with lyrics preserving these old songs, the Child and perhaps the most well known is the Roud Folk Song Index with over 250,000 songs and each having their own identification number. Many Folk songs are Ballads, but not all. Many are based on poems and indeed many of the authors of Folk songs are considered as Poets. In North America they date back to the 1700’s and some well before, and include many songs written by American Songwriters. Often with older Folk songs the author is unknown and therefore listed as “Traditional”.

Many ethnic and foreign language Folk songs were very popular in the US and Canada. While not the most recorded outside of the children’s song genre, the Traditional French Folk Song/Nursery Rhyme “Frère Jacques” was sung in school’s across North America. There are also many songs with roots in other languages that have been translated into English. Sometimes parts of the orignal song was used as well. For example “Wooden Heart”, originally recorded by Elvis Presley for the movie G.I. Blues in 1960 is from a Traditional German Folk song “Muß i denn, muß i denn zum Städtle hinaus” or shorten to “Muss i denn“. An English version by Joe Dowell hit #1 on Billboard the week of August 26 in 1961. “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens is a Rock and Roll song but it is taken from a Mexican Folk song, the version from the movie by Los Lobos hit #1 in 1987. There are many other examples such as the Cuban Folk song “Guantanamera”, sung entirely in Spanish, it was a hit for The Weavers in 1963 and using the same arrangement in 1966 The Sandpipers version peaked at #9 on Billboard. I guess what I am getting at here is that we have to keep an open mind about what a Folk song is and I will explore the question – when does it become a Pop song or vice versa?

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Joni Mitchell

This is the first clip to come up on a YouTube search of Joni Mitchell

You may have seen in the news lately that Joni Mitchell was honoured with The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from The Library of Congress. This award was first presented to Paul Simon in 2007, it is to recognize “the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture”. Mitchell is the 15th honouree. They haven’t updated the honoree profiles yet so I can’t tell you what The Library of Congress has to say about her, but as you may have guessed I have a few things for you on Joni Mitchell.

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Remembering Ian Tyson

Ian and Sylvia Tyson, circa 1970

Born September 25, 1933 in Victoria B.C. and died December 29, 2022 in Longview, Alberta.

This is a name few will know or perhaps remember, even in his homeland it is only those of a ‘certain age’ that know of his songs or the folk duo of Ian & Sylvia. However what they produced, in particular three major hits in the early 1960’s are legitimately iconic. Born in Canada Tyson was a Rodeo Cowboy and following a serious injury, he ‘naturally’ turned into a singer-songwriter. You all know there are a lot of voices that sing about it, Tyson is one of the few that actually was a Cowboy. For more on his (& Sylvia’s) most well known song, a post will appear on A Sound Day later this month.

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