Saturday, May 29, 2010

American Woman

Canada Day, 2006 - Halfway Lake Provincial Park, about an hour or so north of Sudbury.
If you're not from around here, that's not halfway to the middle of nowhere, it's the goddamned capital.
The joint is rocking.
There's a bunch of 30-somethings a few campsites over and they've got the tunes cranked. Lucky for me they're not a bunch of metalheads. It's like they've got Canada's greatest hits dialed up on their MP3 players and they're giving it for all they're worth. As the day heats up and wears down they sing louder, drunker, hoarser. For some reason they're not annoying the piss outta me.
Sunny Days by Lighthouse. Takin' Care of Business by Bachman Turner Overdrive. A little Chilliwack. A little Rush. And lots of The Guess Who.
When Burton Cummings starts in on American Woman the guys at the rowdy site really start wailing. They're singing for all they're worth and, I gotta admit it, I'm singing right along.
I can hear people all over the park singing and I get a great big stupid smile plastered all over my face because this is Canada Day, in Canada, listening to one of Canada's all time best rock and roll bands singing their biggest hit, and it's called American Woman, fer crissakes!
To me that pretty much sums up the Canadian personality. We strive to be our own people but we're so influenced by what goes on south of the border that we waste all our time saying, "We're not them. We're Different," instead of truly developing our own identity.
Do Americans spend half a year in history class studying "The Canadian Identity?" I doubt it. I get the impression Americans know exactly who we are. I can't imagine them muddling around trying to figure it out.
That's why when Michael Solender over at The Not asked for stories about Canada by Canadians a lot of us had a hard time figuring out what to write about.
I felt like I was in history class all over again, mulling over what is Canadian versus what isn't, blah, blah, blah.
How geezly pathetic is that.
Seriously, that's what a Canadian is. A muddler. A thinker.
Americans? They're doers.
They're confident. We're careful.
They're outspoken (read - loud). We're polite (read - meek).
Not that I know a lot of Americans. I don't, actually.
And I've only been there three times.
Once was to go to a wedding in Pennsylvania when I was six. My parents bought me a plastic Daffy Duck and a bunch of other stuff and gave me strict instructions not to say anything to the customs official. He asked if there was anything to claim. My dad said no. I piped up and said, "Look at my new duck!" and waved it in his face.
Once was to bypass Quebec to get to Nova Scotia - it's actually shorter and more interesting to drop down to the States to head east. Honest, I wasn't avoiding Quebec. I love Quebec. *hugs*
Once was to a Dallas Cowboys football game in Detroit. Football literally makes my skin crawl, by the way, but the guy had a Firebird and tickets. Hell, I'd go anywhere with a guy with a Firebird.
No, I don't actually know any Americans.
But I feel like I do, thanks to this blog, thanks to #fridayflash, thanks to one American I've never met but like so much I'm inviting her to my wedding. (I hope Oprah gets back to me soon.)
American Week is a way of showcasing work from some of the people who have changed my world. They have been supportive, encouraging and amazing in every single way.
Make sure you come back here on Monday, the launch of American Week here at the River. I will bring you some really cool stories written by some cool American authors, some of whom you may already know.
I'm also fleshing out the stories with stories about the writers themselves. And you won't want to miss what I've been up to with their photos and my Photoshop... muahahahahah...

Oh, by the way, I keep getting bizarre e-mails from Alan Davidson, the CANADIAN writer from Newfoundland, who keeps bugging me to include his story in American Week.
Alan, you're Canadian, for gawd's sake... no American in his right mind would be caught dead wearing a fez.
Now stop bugging me, ok? Listen to a few tunes and chill, fez-man...

And now, the song that started it all:

P.S. Anthony left a link in his comments so I went there and I did get goosebumps. I had forgotten how Great Elvis was. Oh man, no wonder they called him The King.


  1. Hey Cath, that was a good story, I remember "American Woman when it was released. Your Dad & I thought it was the worst music & now it is pretty mild stuff. lol And I like it!

  2. Burton Cummings has one of the strongest voices in rock n roll.

    You're right - Americans don't spend much time wondering who we are. That's one of our biggest flaws.

  3. Really looking forward to American Week, Cathy! Hope to learn more about the American neighbours...PS, still think you should have accepted my "I am Alan and I am American" essay...

  4. Alan, my love, I wish I could. But it's AMERICAN week and, seriously, you live in Newfoundland! Stop this foolishness!

    Mom - You like American Woman? *laughing my arse off* What is the world coming to! My memories of you and me and Dad going anywhere in the car are this: me begging you to put on CFTR, you acquiesing for a few moments until it drove you crazy, me pouting and whining. Oh, and Liz throwing up.

    Mark - I totally agree with you on the Cummings thing. But flaw? I dunno... maybe Americans don't do enough navel gazing but we Canadians know every bit of lint by heart.

  5. Lol. That was a great post. Great band and great tune.

    I told someone once that Canadians were becoming my favorite people cuz of you and's true. :)

  6. I saw a member of this troop solo in the mid eighties. Still a great voice, but let's just say that he needed to drop the part where he licked the microphone stand from his little bag of tricks.

    *shudders, shudders some more*

  7. And you, Kat, are absolutely my favourite chicka from New Mexico!
    (Did you really say that about me and Alan? *heart goes pittery-pattery*

    Karen - was it Burton Cummings? Of course it was! I used to fantasize about Big Burt until I saw him solo and, well, gag me with a spoon! It was like he was reborn in Vegas. And it was Hamilton! (that's only a good joke if you know Hamilton).

  8. This song still rocks, i know all the words backwards and forward from listening to it as a young spup, great retrospective Cathy.

  9. Nuttin like good 'ol American rock 'n roll, Cathy...

    And then there's THIS:



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