Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thoughts of Canada and Its Music

I was always fascinated by the subtle yet profound differences between Canada and the United States. As a child I was mystified by the Queen Elizabeth's picture on Canadian money when I bought salt and vinegar potato chips. (I bought them because they sounded weird and then took a strong liking to them.

I was astounded to find out that living in Canada are proud descendants of British loyalists who supported England during the American revolution and were therefore run out of the newly formed United States. I stared in fascination at Canada's Tony the Tiger who loudly proclaimed in French that Sugar Frosted Flakes are Formidable!!!!

Canadians are proud to claim cultural icons as theirs rather than America's. Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and Alanis Morrissette are all Canadian, as is of course Celine Dion.

It is through looking at French Canada that I am brought to reflect on the brave and reckless journeys that populated the Western hemisphere and gave it the character with which we are now familiar.

I have been told more times than I care to recall by Europeans that American's don't speak "real English". This pompous opinion is usually delivered in the accent of a country whose butt we either saved or kicked during World War Two. It is usually delivered furthermore in an English that is riddled with grammatical errors.

French Canadians are subjected to the same snobbery by European Francophones. Although rubbing shoulders with English speakers, the greater portion of their linguistic divergence is due to the ancestors of today's French Canadians coming from parts of France in which Parisian French was not spoken. France is actually a country of linguistic diversity, of which French Canada is a reflection. Catalan, Basque and Corsican are among the languages other than French spoken in France and native to it.

I am including in this posting "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" by Gordon Lightfoot, a haunting ballad about a shipwreck on Lake Superior in 1975. The song is poetic as well as factual.

I searched unsuccessfully for a song by Gaston Mandeville called Les Anges Dansent or "The Dance of Angels. I found a fine rendition of the song by a singer named Cynthia Page which I am pleased to present here. It vindicates my belief that some of the best things in life happen when you were expecting something else.

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