Whispering Pines: The Northern Roots of American Music . . . from Hank Snow to The Band

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Overview


Whispering Pines is the first comprehensive history of Canada’s immense songwriting legacy, from Gordon Lightfoot to Joni Mitchell. Canadian songwriters have always struggled to create work that reflects the environment in which they were raised, while simultaneously connecting with a mass audience. For most of the 20th century, that audience lay outside Canada, making the challenge that much greater. While nearly every songwriter who successfully crossed this divide did so by immersing themselves in the ...
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Whispering Pines: The Northern Roots of American Music . . . from Hank Snow to The Band

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Overview


Whispering Pines is the first comprehensive history of Canada’s immense songwriting legacy, from Gordon Lightfoot to Joni Mitchell. Canadian songwriters have always struggled to create work that reflects the environment in which they were raised, while simultaneously connecting with a mass audience. For most of the 20th century, that audience lay outside Canada, making the challenge that much greater. While nearly every songwriter who successfully crossed this divide did so by immersing themselves in the American and British forms of blues, folk, country, and their bastard offspring, rock and roll, traces of Canadian sensibilities were never far beneath the surface of the eventual end product. What were these sensibilities, and why did they transfer so well outside Canada? With each passing decade, a clear picture eventually emerged of what Canadian songwriters were contributing to popular music, and subsequently passing on to fellow artists, both within Canada and around the world. Just as Hank Snow became a giant in country music, Ian & Sylvia and Gordon Lightfoot became crucial components of the folk revival. In the folk-rock boom that followed in the late ’60s, songs by The Band and Leonard Cohen were instant standards, while during the ’70s singer/songwriter movement few artists were more revered than Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. This is the first thorough exploration of how these, along with other lesser-known but no less significant, artists came to establish a distinct Canadian musical identity from the 1930s to the end of the 1970s. Anecdotes explaining the personal and creative connections that many of the artists shared comprise a large aspect of the storytelling, along with first-person interviews and extensive research. The emphasis is on the essential music – how and where it originated, and what impact it eventually had on both the artists’ subsequent work, and the wider musical world.
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Editorial Reviews

The Austin Chronicle

Canadian musicians have played an important part in shaping American music. With Whispering Pines, Jason Schneider deftly explores this influence . . . An engrossing and enlightening read.

From the Publisher

[Schneider's] study is sure to become a key piece in the survey of popular music history . . . Schneider beautifully weaves in the complicated relationships, both professional and personal, of the various artists who have come to define the sound of 20th-century American popular music (yes, American).  —Publishers Weekly

"The first comprehensive book, long overdue, on Canadians' impact on contemporary American pop music . . . This is a refreshing addition to pop-music literature as well as to the often neglected-by-Americans corpus of Canadiana."  —Booklist Online

"Whispering Pines is a busy, striving survey, a latticework of cultural history, microbiography and music journalism . . . Schneider's delivery is that kind of chatty, energetic rock journalism of the old-time variety."  —The Globe and Mail

"Schneider presents a thoughtfully researched history and analysis of Canadian songwriters, their geographical and social origins and their career paths."  —
Canadian Geographic

"Whispering Pines works not just as approachable one-stop-shopping for those with a passing interest in the subject[s], but as a long overdue contextual framework for the tenants in this country's tower of song." —Macleans.ca

"It is clear [Schneider] knows his subject, and the book is a treasure trove of trivia."  —Winnipeg Free Press

"Schneider's collection of stories puts a fresh spin on Canadian artists whose lives and accomplishments haven't lacked for media coverage and analysis."  —Edmonton Journal

"A fine piece of writing that condenses and contextualizes five decades of music into an entertaining and thoughtful document . . . Jason Schneider offers a concise, brilliantly organized and original take on Canadian cultural influence."  —Literary Review of Canada

Publishers Weekly
“What makes Canada such fertile ground for talented artists?” When Canadian music journalist Schneider posed the question to Toronto-born guitarist Robbie Robertson, Robertson replied, “Must be something in the water.” Schneider's ambitious full-length study of Canadian musicians from Wilf Carter through the Band seeks to test that very potent water, and although the results are inconclusive, his study is sure to become a key piece in the survey of popular music history. Schneider introduces picked-over subjects such as Leonard Cohen with such nuanced attention to personal humanity, it is as if the author has revealed them to us for the first time. Schneider beautifully weaves in the complicated relationships, both professional and personal, of the various artists who have come to define the sound of 20th-century American popular music (yes, American). If Schneider's book does nothing else, it exposes the semantic futility of delineating popular music of the U.S. from that of Canada, be it Dylan's quintessential 1960s sound, courtesy of the Band, or the sound of 1970s California, as created by Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and the Mamas and Papas, Canadians all. (Aug.)
The Globe and Mail
Whispering Pines is a busy, striving survey, a latticework of cultural history, microbiography and music journalism . . . Schneider's delivery is that kind of chatty, energetic rock journalism of the old-time variety."
Booklist Online
Whispering Pines is the first comprehensive book, long overdue, on Canadians' impact on contemporary American pop music. . . . This is a refreshing addition to pop-music literature as well as to the often neglected-by-Americans corpus of Canadiana.
Canadian Geographic
Schneider presents a thoughtfully researched history and analysis of Canadian songwriters, their geographical and social origins and their career paths.
Macleans.ca
Whispering Pines works not just as approachable one-stop-shopping for those with a passing interest in the subject[s], but as a long overdue contextual framework for the tenants in this country's tower of song.
Edmonton Journal
Schneider's collection of stories puts a fresh spin on Canadian artists whose lives and accomplishments haven't lacked for media coverage and analysis.
Literary Review of Canada
A fine piece of writing that condenses and contextualizes five decades of music into an entertaining and thoughtful document... . Jason Schneider offers a concise, brilliantly organized and original take on Canadian cultural influence.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550228748
  • Publisher: ECW Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Jason Schneider is one of Canada’s most respected music journalists whose work regularly appears in Exclaim! magazine. He is the coauthor of Have Not Been the Same: The CanRock Renaissance 1985–1995 and the author of 3,000 Miles. He lives in Waterloo, Ontario.
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Table of Contents

Introducticn The Last Waltz 1

Pt. 1 When First Unto This Country

Ch. 1 Brand on My Heart 11

Hank Snow

Wilf Carter

Bob Nolan

Ch. 2 Who Do You Love 45

Ronnie Hawkins

The Hawks

Ch. 3 Morning Dew 87

Ian & Sylvia

Bonnie Dobson

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Pt. 2 I Told You When I Came I Was a Stranger

Ch. 4 The Way I Feel 119

Gordon Lightfoot

Ch. 5 Last Year's Man 145

Leonard Cohen

Ch. 6 Urge for Going 173

Joni Mitchell

Pt. 3 Deserter's Songs

Ch. 7 Lost My Driving Wheel 205

Great Speckled Bird

Anne Murray

Bruce Cockburn

Murray McLauchlan

Kate & Anna McGarrigle

Ch. 8 Ambulance Blues 237

Neil Young

Ch. 9 The Weight 271

The Band

Discography 307

Bibliography 339

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    Massie to Jacob

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