Dear Canadians – I got you some cake.

Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day cake

source

Hope is better than fear.

This seems like a good day for the words of a wise Canadian:

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Quote from the final letter of Jack Layton to Canadians as he lay dying in August 2011. h/t Paul Dewar, Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre and New Democrat Foreign Affairs Critic.

Fridays with Billy – & Jian!

Not Billy Bragg. The other guy.

I had no thought as to which Billy Bragg track I wanted to post today – and lo, as I searched around there in the YouTubes, I found this! Our Billy chatting with my newest radio crush, Jian Gomeshi! (Jian broadcasts on CBC in Canada and his show, Q, is also broadcast on NPR. And I want to be his friend. But nothing creepy – I also want to be Billy’s friend).

So you know what? Here’s Billy being charming and friendly and talking about politics and soccer and fear of flying with old Jian. Followed by the song he performed in studio, “I Almost Killed You.”

Enjoy!

PS: As fans of “Fridays with Billy” will recall, Billy once sang with a Canadian lobster puppet called Captain Claw. Captain Claw (seen here singing about getting to the toilet on time) was among a menagerie of puppets who once appeared on Canadian kids’ TV, under the gentle tutelage of a puppet yam (as in: sweet potato) called Mamma Yamma. A couple of years after interviewing Billy, Jian Gomeshi interviewed Mamma Yamma. Wheels within wheels, people, wheels within wheels!

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Barenaked Ladies: Also Canadian, also crazy.

‘Cause I’m awesome that way, I recently posted not one but two videos of a singing, dancing Canadian lobster puppet. Now I bring to you more Canadian wonder, via my Twitter pal @dvnix: Barenaked Ladies singing “Crazy ABCs.”

Leading to the only reasonable query: English – what’s up with that?

(Plus, bonus – nomination for best line in a pop song ever: “…tortillas” … “Nice rhyme.”)

When you gotta go, you gotta go – a Canadian musical interlude.

On Friday, I posted a clip of Billy Bragg singing to a dancing Canadian lobster. (Nova Scotian, to be more precise). I allowed as how I would like to know more about this dancing lobster fella and Canadian kids’ TV in general, and an obliging commenter over to the Angry Black Lady Chronicles helped me out – check out her knowledge and prodigious Google-fu here. Bottom line for our purposes? Dude’s name is “Captain Claw.”

You might well imagine that armed with this information, I proceeded to the YouTube. Whereupon I found the following piece of sheer delight: Captain Claw singing the undeniably catchy “When You’ve Got to Go” song.

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I know, right? Score one for Canada, baby!

And here’s the other thing: While I am coming to learn that Canada is not always and forever the bastion of compassion and sanity that American Democrats tend to believe it to always and forever be (see: Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews and his contention that if you don’t like unlimited governmental electronic snooping you’re “with the child pornographers“; see also: Fraudulent election day robocalls intended to discourage voter turnout), I do find it very hard to believe that any American producer of children’s television would ever be allowed to depict a character peeing his bed. Which, let’s face it, is a genuine concern of actual children the world over.

 So score two.

Plus, bonus: Dancing, singing shrimp.

Score three.

Woody Guthrie, a dancing lobster, and Fridays with Billy.

Back in the 1990s, Woody Guthrie’s daughter Nora got in touch with our man Billy, and asked him to write music for a whole treasure-trove of lyrics that Guthrie himself had never had a chance to set to music.

Which is to say: The torch was passed.

Bragg recorded these songs with Chicago-based band Wilco in the Mermaid Avenue project, and they’re probably the best known of his work in the US — but as they’re not “his” songs, I don’t really much associate them with him. Which is madness, really, and I’m sure he’d tell me so.

Be that as it may, there is one song that emerged from those recordings that I particularly love: “Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key.” The other day I commenced to look for a video — only to stumble upon the following, a truly random and delightful slice of Canadian pop culture: Billy Bragg performing on the (apparently) defunct kids show “Peggy’s Cove” (or, possibly, “The Peggy Show.” I’ll have to ask one of my Canadians to clarify this matter for me).

Did I say “performing”? I meant: Singing to a dancing lobster (ok, it’s really more of a rhythmic swaying that the lobster does, rather than a dance — he’s a puppet, after all), who eventually offers to row our Billy back to England. The visual quality isn’t quite HD, but the clip is really quite outstanding, nonetheless.

And the song, as ever, lovely.

Enjoy!

I lived in a place called Okfuskee
and I had a little girl in a holler tree
I said, little girl, it’s plain to see,
there ain’t nobody that can sing like me

She said it’s hard for me to see
how one little boy got so ugly
Yes, my little girly, that might be,
But there ain’t nobody that can sing like me
Ain’t nobody that can sing like me
way over yonder in the minor key
Way over yonder in the minor key
there ain’t nobody that can sing like me.

full lyricsWhat is Fridays with Billy?

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