Ashley MacIsaac – Hills of Glenorchy

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Another wild-ass rock bagpipe song from Cape Breton Island’s Ashley MacIsaac, this from his 1995 release Hi™ How Are You Today?. His performances are a treat.

Reggae Covers: Alton Ellis – These Eyes (The Guess Who)

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This 1970 cover of the 1968 original by Winnipeg, MB’s The Guess Who is groovy and super-chill, featuring Alton Ellis in all his paradoxically rough/smooth vocal sensitivity. The tune is appropriately soul-themed, with a solid rocksteady beat and trilling guitars. A Coxsone Dodd production and recorded at his Brantford Road Studio with the backing of The Sound Dimensions, listen closely for the incomparable Jackie Mittoo on keyboards.

These eyes watched you bring my world to an end
This heart could not accept and pretend
The hurt’s on me, yeah
And I will never be free, yeah
You made a promise to me, oh
You broke it, you broke it.

Gordon Lightfoot – Canadian Railroad Trilogy

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Usually I only go for trilogies called ‘Lick My Love Pump,’ but Canadian folk royal Gordon Lightfoot‘s thoughtful homage shows off his vocal and songwriting chops, not to mention endurance.

There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun
Long before the white man and long before the wheel
When the green dark forest was too silent to be real

The resumption of the motif at 4:51, the tempo gradually building a head of steam, flying face-first across the prairies heading West…

This 1972 performance appeared first on the BBC. Lightfoot’s various studio renditions are worth a listen as well.

James Keelaghan – Cold Missouri Waters

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The heartbreaking news from the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona calls to mind Calgary, AB’s James Keelaghan’s account of the 1949 Mann Gulch fire.

If the news from the Yarnell Hill fire leaves you shattered –wishing there was something you could say or do– consider making a donation to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, a support organization for families of wildland firefighters killed in the line of duty.

My name is Dodge, but then you know that
It’s written on the chart there at the foot end of the bed
They think I’m blind, I can’t read it
I’ve read it every word, and every word it says is death
So a confession – is that the reason that you came
Get it off my chest before I check out of the game
Since you mention it, well there’s thirteen things I’ll name
Thirteen crosses high above the cold Missouri waters

August ’49, north Montana
The hottest day on record, the forest tinder dry
Lightning strikes in the mountains
I was crew chief at the jump base, I prepared the boys to fly
Pick the drop zone, C-47 comes in low
Feel the tap upon your leg that tells you go
See the circle of the fire down below
Fifteen of us dropped above the cold Missouri waters

Gauged the fire, I’d seen bigger
So I ordered them to sidehill and we’d fight it from below
We’d have our backs to the river
We’d have it licked by morning even if we took it slow
But the fire crowned, jumped the valley just ahead
There was no way down, headed for the ridge instead
Too big to fight it, we’d have to fight that slope instead
Flames one step behind above the cold Missouri waters

Sky had turned red, smoke was boiling
Two hundred yards to safety, death was fifty yards behind
I don’t know why I just thought it
I struck a match to waist high grass running out of time
Tried to tell them, Step into this fire I set
We can’t make it, this is the only chance you’ll get
But they cursed me, ran for the rocks above instead
I lay face down and prayed above the cold Missouri waters

And when I arose, like the phoenix
In that world reduced to ashes there were none but two survived
I stayed that night and one day after
Carried bodies to the river, wonder how I stayed alive
Thirteen stations of the cross to mark to their fall
I’ve had my say, I’ll confess to nothing more
I’ll join them now, because they left me long before
Thirteen crosses high above the cold Missouri waters
Thirteen crosses high above the cold Missouri shore

Folk ‘supergroup’ Cry Cry Cry did a creditable version of this song as well.

RIP Granite Mountain Hotshots.

More reasons I don’t own a car

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There’s already more CO2 in the atmosphere than we thought:

The chances of the world holding temperature rises to 2C – the level of global warming considered “safe” by scientists – appear to be fading fast with US scientists reporting the second-greatest annual rise in CO2emissions in 2012.

Carbon dioxide levels measured at at Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaiijumped by 2.67 parts per million (ppm) in 2012 to 395ppm, said Pieter Tans, who leads the greenhouse gas measurement team for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The record was an increase of 2.93ppm in 1998…

…and it’s irreversibly changing the Earth for the worse:

See Canada’s glaciers while you still can. Their melting is irreversible, according to projections based on real-world data and validated by satellite images.

By the end of the century, a fifth of the Canadian ice sheet – the world’s third largest – could be gone for good, raising average global sea levels by 3.5 centimetres.

If the whole ice sheet melts, it would raise the global sea level by about 20 centimetres, a fraction of the 70 and 7 metre rises expected respectively if Antarctica and Greenland each shed all their ice…

I could not be aware of the cumulative effect of carbon emissions on the Earth and not feel both responsible for the harm I was causing with my automobile and ashamed of putting my needs and desires before those of all humanity; indeed all Earthly life. In a cool, rainy place like Seattle there have definitely been times when I’d have preferred riding around in a mechanized, heated La-Z-Boy; but I get where I need to go walking with my head held high.

Ashley MacIsaac – The Devil In The Kitchen

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I became aware of the Canadian violin renegade Ashley MacIsaac during a trip to Scotland (the same time/place I first heard Loreena McKennitt). I’ve known & sung Celtic music since my Dad familiarized me with the Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem as a lad, but after my life shift into the punk rock scene I had resigned myself to keeping these and other divergent musical traditions together by force of interest alone. When I heard Ashley MacIsaac’s music in a long-forgotten Edinburgh record shop I felt like Drs. Spengler & Venkman, recrossing two powerful streams of my musical nascence.

Ian Tyson – Summer Wages

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In keeping with the nascent Canadianophile theme, some cowboy poetry from Ian Tyson:

Never hit seventeen
When you play against the dealer
You know that the odds
Won’t ride with you
Never leave your woman alone
With your friends around to steal her
She’ll be gambled and gone
Like summer wages

And we’ll keep rollin on
Till we get to Vancouver
And the lady that I love
Shes living there
Its been six long months
And more since I’ve seen her
Maybe she’s gambled and gone
Like summer wages

In all the beer parlors
All down along Main Street
The dreams of the season
Are spilled down on the floor
All the big stands of timber
Wait there just for fallin’
The hookers stand watchfully
Waitin by the door

I’m going to work on them towboats
With my slippery city shoes
Lord I swore I would never do that again
Through the great fog bound straights
Where the cedars stand waitin
I’ll be lost and gone
Like summer wages
(Break – fiddle same as verse)

Never hit seventeen
When you play against the dealer
You know that the odds
Won’t ride with you
Never leave your woman alone
With your friends around to steal her
She’ll be gambled and gone
Like summer wages
And the years are gambled and lost
Like summer wages

Stan Rogers – Rolling Down To Old Maui

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Finishing an unintentional (but un-unfinishable) musical trilogy of favorite performances by Canadians with Stan Rogers beating the everloving snot out of a traditional whaler-men’s song:

Alex Cuba – Directo

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Canadian singer-songwriter Alex Cuba has an infectious, sing-song-y method here. It is the sort of tune one hums along the streets of Pacific Heights, thinking to oneself that it can’t be as bad as all that.