Landscape Music

Red Maple (1914), by A.Y. Jackson

Weather imagery is also a great way for songwriters to tap into a sense of place. Growing up listening to a lot of Canadian music, I enjoyed the way that the music I listened to reflected the world I lived in through subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways. The weather (and particularly cold, northern weather) is a theme that runs through many elements of Canadian art, from literature to music to visual art. Songwriters like Gordon Lightfoot (who received a couple spots in the previously-mentioned Weather Channel tournament) and Joni Mitchell helped reinforce this element of Canadian identity. 

(Again, and I cannot emphasize this enough, Ice Ice Baby does not count as Canadian weather music!)

Going through my music collection, one of my favorite Canadian weather metaphors is from Blue Rodeo, who conclude Hasn't Hit Me Yet with the following lyrics: I stand transfixed / Before this streetlight / Watching the snow fall / On this cold December night  / And out in the middle of Lake Ontario / The same snow is falling / On the deep silent water / The great dark wonder / Into the waves of my heart.

However, there's another band and project that deserves special mention: In the early 1990s, the National Gallery of Canada commissioned the indie-rock band The Rheostatics to write music to accompany a retrospective of paintings by the Group of Seven. (For non-Canadians, these were a group of painters who focused primarily on landscape painting in the 1920s and 1930s.) The music that they wrote does an excellent job at evoking that nationalist imagery.  

The CBC produced a very good program on the making of this project.