Music, a musician of all things. A nation as a song who knew?
With all the bluster and posturing, bravado and warmongering, territorial pissings, whatever, it is the people who find their own heroes and the people who will define the nation. And it seems this nation has decided to define itself by music. A nation as sound. Marshall McLuhan would dig it.
So Gord Downie of all of them; with his passing he is being heralded as the idea of Canada personified. Who would disagree. At some time in the future this land will stop for him. At a time in the past this nation, 11 million, stopped to watch the Tragically Hip’s final concert in Kingston. This was Canada as Hip Nation and Gord made it hip to be Canuck. He embedded its history, its geography, its past and present into his lyrics and at the Kingston concert he made a plea for its future. Canada can be better.
It took a musician to bring this diverse, divided, wide as it is long, three seas and too many lakes, this cold country to a better sense of itself.
Its the work of the artist - they give us options, choices about what we can be.
In Oshawa on Thursday Oct 19 there will be a summit of culture at the Arts Resource Centre downtown. It is organised by the Culture Counts department at City Hall and will feature theatre, a Tamil poet, a presentation on the Canadian Automotive Museum and a high school dance group. It will also feature music from duo Crown Lands.
Crown Lands’ sleazy diesel power rock is a peculiar brand - one heard around these parts, one we call ShwaRock. It is equally parts classic rock riffs and grit, sponging up radio hits and live and local. Its a blend of rock and oil, call it hunnypot rock. I hear it in The Standstills and the Micronite Filters and every local kid band that ever dragged gear across the sticky floor of The Dungeon.
There are roots spreading into Rush, the Hip, Zeppelin, DFA, White Stripes but Crown Lands make it all their own. Its the harmonies. Just delve right into “Misery” from their most recent release, ‘Rise Over Run’. Its anything but miserable. Its a road rag rocket launcher, a speed king demon, all desert sands and open top and loud loud loud chugging riff ready trip-out, a space trucker of a mother that has not been out of my car deck and when the turbo kicks in the diesel rock of Crown Lands is the only soundtrack I need on my fly by night.
But is Oshawa ready to embrace its own sound and define itself by it. Is Oshawa ready to seek out the artists to find itself as it moves away from its one time role as a factory town. It was defined by work one time. How will it define itself now? Will it be by players?
Culture defines a place, a city, and a nation. Nothing else.
We are only our culture nothing else. We are only a song and Gord Downie has written more of that song than any other.