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Obama's Canadian Playlist ~~ 49 Songs That Define Canada and Our Music!

Updated on August 24, 2017

Barack Obama's Canadian Playlist ~~ 49 Songs From North of the 49th Parallel

When you think of a Canadian music playlist, what songs do you think of? What type(s) of music? The CBC (The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) set out to define music in Canada by creating a list of "49 songs from north of the 49th parallel" with the intent of giving Barack Obama, when he was the incoming President of the United States, some Canadian content for his iPod. The week of January 9th, 2009, was dedicated to submitting songs for Obama's Canadian music playlist. Canadians voted for their favorite songs between January 5th and January 16th, 2009.

Barack Obama made it clear that he likes music from many genres. In the summer of 2008, he offered up his list of top 10 songs, which included artists and songs like Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, The Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter, Bruce Springsteen's I'm on Fire, The Fugees' Ready or Not and Aretha Franklin's Think. Later, he added Stevie Wonder, Beyonce and Earth, Wind and Fire. His list may be good but that is not to say it could not use a little more Canadian content.

Canadian music covers many genres and cultures and includes a diverse musical collection -- from bach to rap music. What better way to get to know Canadians a little bit better? Canada is definitely ready to add some excellent Canadian content to President Obama's playlist!

Canadians had one week to vote. What did they came up with? Do you think it defines Canada? Read all about it and discover some of the best Canadian songs in 49 Songs From North of the 49th Parallel!

"One of the best ways to know Canada is through the depth and breadth of our artistic expression. We're excited about the new president, and we want him to be excited about us."~~ CBC

Hank Snow's Greatest Hits
Hank Snow's Greatest Hits | Source

What is Canadian Content?

Canadian English language radio has a policy called the Commercial Radio Policy which states that 35 percent of all of the music on the radio each week on AM and FM radio stations must be Canadian. Plus, 35 percent of music broadcast Monday to Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. must also consist of Canadian content.

The MAPL system says that inorder for a song to have 'Canadian content,' music must meet at least two of criteria:

  • M (music) - the music is written entirely by a Canadian.
  • A (artist) - the music and/or the lyrics are performed mainly by a Canadian.
  • P (production) - the musical selection is a live performance that is either recorded wholly in Canada or performed wholly in Canada and broadcast live in Canada.
  • L (lyrics) - the words are written only by a Canadian.

Anne Murray The Best ...So Far
Anne Murray The Best ...So Far | Source

Mes Aeux - Dgnrations

Michael Buble - 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 Lvesque - 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!

The Top 49 Songs, Listed By Artist

Posted January 20th, 2009.

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 Blanger - Rver mieux

Daniel Lanois - Jolie Louise

Daniel Lavoie - J'ai quitt mon le

Diana Krall - Departure Bay

Gilles Vigneault - Mon pays

Glenn Gould - Goldberg Variations

Gordon Lightfoot - Canadian Railroad Trilogy

Gordon Lightfoot - 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 - Montral -40C

Marie-Jo Thrio - vangeline

Marjan Mozetich - Affairs of the Heart

Measha Brueggergosman - I'm Going Up a Yonder

Word from CBC has it that a last minute swarm to the 'polls' from Rush fans pushed 'Closer To The Heart' above Gordon Lightfoot's 'Canadian Railroad Trilogy' to the number one position in the English pop/folk/rock section.

On this list, there were a total of six artists who had two songs make the top list which included The Tragically Hip, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Oscar Peterson.

The Top 5 Canadian Songs In The English, Pop, Folk, Rock Section

  1. Closer to the Heart - Rush
  2. Canadian Railroad Trilogy - Gordon Lightfoot
  3. Hallelujah - k.d. lang
  4. Democracy - Leonard Cohen
  5. Northwest Passage - Stan Rogers

The Top 5 Canadian Songs In The Jazz Section

  1. Hymn to Freedom - Oscar Peterson Trio
  2. Home - Michael Bubl
  3. Place St. Henri (from Canadiana Suite) - Oscar Peterson
  4. Departure Bay - Diana Krall
  5. Swingin' Shepherd Blues - Moe Koffman

The Top 5 Canadian Songs In The Classical Section

  1. Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould (performer)
  2. I'm Going Up a Yonder - Measha Brueggergosman (performer)
  3. Affairs of the Heart - Marjan Mozetich (composer)
  4. We’ll Gather Lilacs - Ben Heppner (performer)
  5. Barber Violin Concerto - James Ehnes (performer)

The Top 5 Canadian Songs In The French Pop, Folk, Rock Etc. Section

  1. Mon pays - Gilles Vigneault
  2. Montral -40C - Malajube
  3. vangline - Marie-Jo Thrio
  4. Pour un instant - Harmonium
  5. J'ai quitt mon le - Daniel Lavoie

What do you think of when you think of Canadian music? Any specific artists, groups or style of music?

Every country has a musical tradition of some sort but what country can agree on the music and the artists that best represent them and their country? What do you think represents Canadian music?

Do you think this playlist does a good job of representing Canada's music?

One may argue that making a national playlist is a bit odd -- for doesn't each individual's playlist represent their own lives and memories? Perhaps we should be creating our own playlists and not choosing to represent the whole country with a single list! I do agree with that point of view but I also think that seeing a playlist picked by a country is also an interesting process. Passing it on to Americans like Barack Obama may also be a great way to share our musical culture. What do you think?

Oh What A Feeling Volume 2

Oh What A Feeling Volume 2 was produced in 2001 and includes recordings by artists like Lange, Robert John, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, A. Loree, J. Joyce, P. Dean, Aldo Nova, R. Higgs, Tom Cochrane, Burton Cummings, S. Prokop, Cat Stevens, R. Wamil, N. Sedaca, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLaughlan. Once again, four compact discs with hours of listening enjoyment.

Oh What A Feeling! Canadian Music Collection

Compiled from The Juno Awards

The first Oh What A Feeling album was produced in 1996 and includes music from The Guess Who, Lighthouse, Crowbar, Steppenwolf, Sweeney Todd, Rush, Loverboy, Bryan Adams, Corey Hart, Anne Murray, The Guess Who, The Stampeders, Five Man Electrical Band, April Wine, Celine Dion, Roch Voisine, Gino Vannelli, Alannah Myles and Jann Arden. Four discs, many hours of wonderful Canadian music!

Oh What A Feeling Volume 3

Oh What A Feeling Volume 3, another wonderful music collection was produced in 2006 and includes songs from the following artists: Geddy Lee, Ch Randolf, Ann Wilson, Rich Dodson, Burton Cummings, Chad Kroeger, James Black, Jeremy Hora, Raine Maida, Charles-And Comeau, Lauren Christy, Ed Robertson, K. Brereton, Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan, Aldo Nova, Jann Arden, Jim Cuddy and Sarah Harmer.

Follow These Links To Great Canadian Music on CBC Radio

The results of the voting will be unveiled on Inauguration Day, Tuesday, January 20, 2009. You will be able to hear the selected songs throughout the day on the following Canadian radio stations RADIO 2 MORNING, TEMPO, RADIO 2 DRIVE and TONIC.

© 2009 Treasures By Brenda

What does Obama's Canadian Playlist tell us about our Canadian musical culture?

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    • malloryjane profile image


      9 years ago

      Absolutely amazing - a lot of work went into this lens I'm sure! I think the Canadian playlist was missing a few artists & songs, but happy with a lot of selections that were made! Thanks for sharing this, I believe I was living in Canada at this point and had no idea about it.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I was visiting my daughter her senior year at Yale and we went out to dinner with a bunch of her friends and two of them, Canadians, burst out in an absolutely perfect unison rendition of "Canada is Really Big." I feel out of my chair. They were kind enough to do it again out on the sidewalk. I'm so happy it made it onto your lens. I'm about to feature this lens on my thank-you lens.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      10 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Really neat topic! I learned a lot. I think having a national play list is really a good idea. Of course the United States would have a "Top 40" and probably a few suggestions would end up being Canadian!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Wow Brenda, it really shows how much time, effort and work you put into this lens! I'm totally impressed! Five maple leafs for you LOL - Kathy

    • Adrienne Jenkins profile image

      Adrienne Jenkins 

      11 years ago

      I know all about CANCON as a former radio DJ from Vancouver, Canada, eh. Great idea for a lens. Good luck on reaching giant squid status. 5 stars.7 Reasons Why I'm Not Going to Obama's Inauguration

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      An amazing lens and very original! I would like to add my lens to your link list. He has to be Canada's Poet Laureate.Great Work!Christianna


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