rock songs toronto

The top 10 rock songs about Toronto

There's a grit to rock songs about Toronto. They're less anthemic than most hip hop songs, less playful than folk songs, and aren't afraid to look at the city with a critical eye. But to the age-old question, are you ready to rock, Toronto? The answer is that the city is always rocking.

Here are my picks for the top rock songs about Toronto.

Rush - "YYZ"
Though there are a few Rush songs that reference the band's hometown, none do it in quite the way "YYZ" does. From their 1981 album Moving Pictures, the cover itself is a great nod to Toronto with the parliament buildings on display. "YYZ" is an all-instrumental track that references Pearson's airport code not only in title but the letters are played out in morse code at the song's beginning. Very clever!

Jason Collett - "Charlyn, Angel of Kensington"
Jason Collett trades in his usually quieter folk style for a funky groove when he take listeners on a tour of Kensington Market on his 2008 record Here's to Being Here. Collett captures the sights and sounds of Kensington so well, you can "almost hear the old steel drums ringing out."

Martha & The Muffins - "Echo Beach"
The biggest hit from the new wave band Martha & The Muffins has their Torontonian narrator dreaming of a break from her 9-5 office job. Although Echo Beach was a fictional place at the time the song was written, a music venue named after this song has since opened on the lakeshore, making this song retrospectively even more Toronto-centric.

Silverstein - "Toronto (Abridged)"
Bookended by the the voice of a TTC announcer and the lapping water of Lake Ontario, Silverstein frontman Shane Told tries to deal with his negative relationship with the city in "Toronto (Abridged)." With references to Liberty Village, Kensington, and Sneaky Dee's, Silverstein captures the complex relationship many have with their city.

The Lowest of the Low - "Under the Carlaw Bridge"
Located at Carlaw Ave. and Gerrard St. E., the Carlaw Bridge is not the most scenic bridge in Toronto but The Lowest of the Low have made it a special one thanks to this song, which is about trying to find happiness during winter by drinking at The Only, "Under the Carlaw Bridge" is not the only Toronto-inspired song from the band's album Shakespeare My Butt. A Lowest of the Low city tour may be in order.

The Wooden Sky - "Saturday Night"
Between the band members' local baseball team, bike tours of local record stores, and performing encores in city streets, The Wooden Sky love Toronto and the city loves them back. Amongst "all the Queen Street cowboys out there standing in line," The Wooden Sky have something to live for on this "Saturday Night," and they'll pump you up for a night on the town too.

The Tragically Hip - "Fifty Mission Cap"
If you're a Leafs fanatic, you know the story of the mysterious disappearance of Bill Barilko shortly after scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in 1951. After his disappearance, the Leafs went through a Cup drought for 11 years until 1962 when Barilko's body was discovered and they won again. The Tragically Hip's homage to this story is enough to please any hardcore Leafs fan.

Treble Charger - "Trinity Bellwoods"
Trinity Bellwoods park is the background for a messy break-up in this song from one of Canada's early indie rock bands. Torontonians can only hope their park hangs come with less emotional baggage then witnessed on this track.

Rheostatics - "Dope Fiends and Boozehounds"
CanCon extraordinaries the Rheostatics take listeners to "Kipling where the street lamps light the way" in "Dope Fiends and Boozehounds." A bleak song about loneliness and loss what makes it a little bit lighter is the earnest question the Rheostatics pose, and one that many can relate to: "Why didn't they stay here and help me shovel the walk?"

The Barenaked Ladies - "The Old Apartment"
The Barenaked Ladies' narrator has some remorse about buying an "old house on the Danforth" with his new partner and nagged by the nostalgia of his old apartment and lover. With the apartment's "crooked landing, crooked landlord, narrow laneway filled with crooks" this place sounds very familiar to the city's apartment dwellers.

Did I miss any rock songs? Add your suggestions in the comments.

Writing by Laura Stanley / Photo of Rush by Sara Collaton in the blogTO Flickr pool.em>


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