No, this is not an appreciation post for Canada’s delicious PM, Justin Trudeau; I am not blogging a love letter to the hottie from Ottowa. Though…whew, that man is REALLY easy on the eyes. We do not grow politicians that good looking by a long shot. This is some next level legislative eye candy, people. Oh, you’re offended that I’m objectifying him? PFFTT; take your pearls and go clutch them somewhere else, I’m not going to apologize ever for this. Ever.
I grew up a short 20 miles from the Canadian border. It’s a quick 1 1/2 hour drive to get to Toronto, which has afforded me the opportunity to see some really great concerts over the years, including the best band on the planet, Duran Duran. You don’t have to agree with me about this, but understand I am right. Someday, I will post my TedTalk about how criminal it is that they are not yet in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But I digress…this is what happens when I start talking about Duran Duran.
A favorite pastime of every 19 year old along the US/Ontario border back in the early 90’s was the jaunt across the border to go to the clubs. The lower drinking age in Ontario meant that we could all go dancing and drinking legally without worrying about the quality of our fake IDs. Now, before you go clutching your pearls, we always had a designated driver. It was just never me, oddly. Go figure. We had a couple favorite clubs and every time I hear 90’s dance music like Black Box or Technotronic, it takes me back and I wax nostalgic. Hell, I have a whole Spotify playlist devoted to songs from that era. Crossing the border back into the States was a much different affair back in 1993, the agents at the border knew what was up and usually waved us through without much fanfare, Amy’s 1987 Caprice Classic filled with 3 drunk girls and their DD. Pre 9-11, it was way harder to get into Canada and their agents seemed much more grumpy. Now it is the American border agents that are much more strict.
But even before all those night spent in the clubs of Fort Erie, Canada, dancing, drinking Michelob Light and meeting cute boys, I had another big reason to love Canada. Music. Some really, really great music.
You see, as part of the Broadcasting Act of Canada, Canadian radio stations are required to play a certain percentage of Canadian artists. As a teen growing up near the border, I was able to get all these amazing stations on the radio. Yes, I listened to the RADIO. This was well before the advent of satellite radio; indeed, I was still buying not only cassette tapes but vinyl records. My daughters refer to this period as “ancient history.” The 80’s were an amazing time to be alive, especially from a musical perspective, in my humble opinion.
I was exposed to incredible music from across the border. Had I lived in middle America, I would never have been exposed to bands like Parachute Club, Luba, The Spoons, Platinum Blonde and many more.
Now, some of those beloved Canadian bands definitely found their footing on American radio. Corey Hart, Glass Tiger, Bryan Adams, Loverboy and Honeymoon Suite come to mind immediately. They did pretty well in that era. All my friends who were a little less “new wave” and more “serious rock” certainly would name Rush and Triumph as big success stories. Later, The Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan would find a place on 90’s radio. The Tragically Hip would be come beloved, though personally, I am only a moderate fan. Still, RIP Gord.
And then there was Eight Seconds, Jane Child, The Cutting Crew, Rock and Hyde, The Philosopher Kings, Bran Van 3000, The Lowest of the Low, Gowan, The Northern Pikes, Red Rider, Strange Advance, Jann Arden, Gino Vanelli… the list goes on and one and I am most assuredly forgetting a few of them. In the days before we got cable, I would tune in every night at 7:00pm, managing to get the antenna in just the right, to watch a grainy Samantha Taylor showcase all the best music videos of the day on Video Hits. Canadian artists galore!
So much of what I am today is thanks to the culture, fashion and music from that time. Music in particular has always played a huge part in my life. Though I cannot play any instruments, I sure do love to sing along at the top of my lungs in the car. All part of resisting invisible daily. So, I will leave you with a window into my soul from those years with some YouTube links to some of my favorites. Enjoy and don’t judge the fashion too harshly; it was the 80’s after all. Frankly, it was an amazing time to be alive; at least I think so. And if you pull up next to me at a stop light and see me singing along at the top of my lungs, understand that it might just be to one of these righteous Canadian tunes of the past.
Keep on resisting, friends!