French Canadian Folk Songs Track Listing (Song suggestion: “A la Claire Fontaine”)
Pretty much for as long as I can remember I’ve always liked folk music. Among the earliest folk songs I can recall is the French-Canadian song “Alouette,” which every now and then would be played in one of my grade school classes as I was growing up in New York. I enjoyed the fast, playful pacing of this simple children’s tune and, not knowing any French at the time, was more than amused years later to learn that it dealt with the plucking of a chicken.
Folksongs of Saskatchewan Track Listing: http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=761
(Song suggestion: “Saskatchewan”)
That song, along with hundreds of other Canadian regional tunes, can be readily found through the website for Smithsonian Folkways. Over almost 40 years, Folkways Records devoted itself to recording songs and sounds from America, Canada and other parts of the world, producing a prodigious 2,168 albums. Several years ago, the Smithsonian acquired the archives of Folkways Records and part of the Smithsonian’s mission was to make the collection widely available, which it accomplishes, in part, through the website.
A search of “Canada” on the Smithsonian Folkways site reveals a total of 118 Canada-related records. Because most of these recordings are from the 1950s and 60s, they are very difficult to find elsewhere, so it is amazing that so many are collected in one location. (Link to Canadian-Related Records on Smithsonian Folkways: http://www.folkways.si.edu/searchresults.aspx?sPhrase=canada&sType=’phrase’).
While the Smithsonian Folkways collection is broader than just Canadian music, there is a further strong Canadian connection of this music by virtue of the University of Alberta’s folkwaysAlive! project that is part of the Canadian Centre for Ethnomusicology. The University of Alberta has also made a significant grant in support of the mission of Smithsonian Folkways. (Link to University of Alberta’s folkwaysAlive!: http://www.fwalive.ualberta.ca/home/about-us/)
There are many albums worth noting on the Folkways site. A few examples, with links to album track listings and a suggested song to which you might listen for a flavor of the album, are noted above and below.
Canada’s Story in Song Track Listing: http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=2116
(Song suggestion: “Poor Little Girls of Ontario”)
We’ll Rant and We’ll Rave Track Listing: http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=1523
(Song suggestion: “Harbour Place”)
Heart of Cape Breton Track Listing: http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=2973
(Song suggestion: My Great Friend John Morris Rankin, etc.” — Medley)
Songs and Dances of Quebec Track Listing: http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=1241
(Song suggestion: “Danse Carre”)