Todd Butler Idle Canadian
Many of you may know me as a comedian/satirist from my work on CBC Radio over the past ten years. While I admit a fondness for parody and satire—and an addiction to humor—my first love has always been guitar and ‘socially conscious’ songs.
Songwriters like Bruce Cockburn and Joni Mitchell and more recently Michael Franti. My all-time favorite musicians are Steely Dan thanks to their genre-bending grooves, clever lyrics and great guitar solos and I am simply in awe of Frank Zappa.
Not surprisingly, my distaste for most popular music has risen steadily since my teens when, as the singer in the band, I had to write out and learn the lyrics to the latest top 40 songs and discovered that they were mostly about 2 things; “I’m so great/in love” or “I’m so miserable”. I spent years writing about how great I was and/or how miserable I could be! What a laugh!! Who cares! That’s why I got into comedy.
While most people would agree that the world is in some fairly serious trouble as a result of human activity, there seems to be a lack of discussion on the matter in popular music. That is not to say there aren’t a whole slew of artists out there working for social change, it’s just that they are marginalized by the mainstream media where the ‘I’m so great/miserable’ song still rules. Try and find a song about environmentalism or over-consumption on the radio and you’ll see what I mean. Without getting too conspiracy theory geek on you, I would suggest that this may have something to do with the fact that the media is OWNED BY THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE MOST TO LOSE FROM SOCIAL CHANGE. This is precisely the reason the CBC is under attack. It is one of the only remaining voices for the people. It still speaks for the downsized, the disenfranchised, the farmer, the single mom in Saskatoon who feels connected to Canada through her radio, and the protest songwriter in Courtenay. To lose it is to lose the common perspective. All you have left then is the corporate point of view. None of us want corporations to decide what is in our best interest. Not if you have half a brain.
By their very nature they are incapable of it.
I believe Corporate Music is just as incapable of choosing the ‘best music’ for you to enjoy. They have a very large vested interest in the status quo. (This is why you hear endless repeats and rehashings by Elton and Rod and the like. They want you to linger in some nostalgic stupor of yesteryear, too discouraged to DO ANYTHING ABOUT THE FUTURE.) They have the most to lose…mostly your money in their pockets!
There is a lot of really great unknown music out there and thanks to the Internet, the Big Companies no longer have a monopoly on music distribution and are finding it increasingly difficult to control what we can choose to listen to.
This is very good news for us! Especially me as this new CD doesn’t have a hope in hell of getting commercial airplay.
Don’t get me wrong; I recorded these songs for purely selfish reasons but, I suspect, they will prove a bit too political for the corporate programmers. While there is a decidedly country roots feel to some of the songs, I am almost positive the CD will be completely ignored by country radio. In addition, there are several cuts with screaming electric guitar solos which, something tells me, will be passed over by the Rock stations as my hair is a bit fuddy-duddy and I am 43 with a gut. I also anticipate little or no airplay on Hip-Hop radio. No real surprise there.
The point is that I am counting on you, Dear Reader, to spread the word should you enjoy these songs because no one is likely to hear them for the first time on the radio. (Unless they listen to CKUA or CBC, that is!) Hey, even if you didn’t enjoy the CD…maybe you have some friends that would? Thank you in advance for this consideration.
I am nothing without you. “…that sounds like a Rod Stewart song…”
Here is a little bit about each song on Idle Canadian: Todd Butler (from his website)