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Canadian songwriters and artists being covered

Canadian songwriters and artists being covered

Leading up to Canada’s 151st Birthday this July 1, I will be talking about Canadian music and of course artists who have had their songs covered. I already posted some from the most covered Canadian, that being Neil Young at 132 times. 

Other’s on the most covered list for the most individual songs covered (I admit I may have made some omissions and focused on english language ‘pop music'). Also, these are not necessarily written by the artist.

2. Joni Mitchell covered 97 times

3. Gordon Lightfoot covered 94 times

4. Leonard Cohen – 73

5. Paul Anka - 52

6. Howard Shore -46 (an original member of the Canadian band ‘Lighthouse’, I mention him here not for his work with them but the outstanding career, Academy, Golden Globe and Grammy wins he has had scoring films, in particular my favorite LOTR!!!!)

7. Celine Dion - 45

8. The Band - 42 (written in whole or in part by a Canadian) and add solo efforts by Robbie Robertson+6 Rick Danko+2, however the actual covers of  'The Band' as a whole is 57.

9. Justin Bieber- 38

10. Bruce Cockburn – 35

11. Rush-34

12. Ron Sexsmith – 34

13. Tegan and Sara -22

14. Bryan Adams – 21

15. Anne Murray – 21

16. Buffy Sainte-Marie -20 ("Until It's Time for You to Go"- 109 times)

17. Arcade Fire - 19

18. Sarah McLachlan -19 (“Angel” 80 times)

19. Shania Twain -19

20. Alanis Morrissette -18

21. Drake - 18

22. Barenaked Ladies -18

23. Ian and Sylvia – 15

24. Rufus Wainright-15

25. The Guess Who -15

26. Steppenwolf-12

27. Nickleback -11

28. Avril Lavigne -11

29. Daniel Lanois -10

30. Feist - 10

31. k.d. lang -9

32. The Weeknd – 9

33. Carly Rae Jepson – 7 (“Call Me Maybe” 32 times)

34. Oscar Peterson -7

35. Blue Rodeo - 6

Honourable mention, Men without Hats -4 (“Safety Dance” 26 times)

Nazareth, a Scottish hard rock band formed in 1968 clearly had a thing for Canadian artists. Out of 27 cover songs they recorded, five were written by Canadians. I heard them play this first song when they performed here in London in 1978 (remember that Shayne!)
In fact, I still have this Album released in 1973, which features this song!
Nazareth (1973) “This Flight Tonight" written by Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell (1971) “This Flight Tonight”
They covered Rick Danko (The Band)
“Java Blues” in 1981
Rick Danko in 1977
“Morning Dew” written and performed by Canadian folk singer, Bonnie Dobson originally from 1962 (covered 47 times and most famously perhaps by The Grateful Dead in 1967)
A lovely duet with Robert Plant honouring her song
Nazareth doing it in 1971 (they also covered another Dobson penned song “Morgentau”)
Nazareth (1989) doing “Helpless”, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young written by Neil Young

Bessie Smithby the Band written by Rick Danko and Robbie Robertson
Not a particularly well know song from the Basement Tapes Album recorded in 1968 and released in 1975. This is a song written from the perspective of a fictitious lover of Bessie Smith, yes that Bessie Smith know as the ‘Empress of the Blues’ from the 1920-1930’s as previously blogged.
“Bessie Smith”, a lovely version by Norah Jones, official cover date is 2003.

“American Woman”-1970 - The Guess Who written by Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Garry Peterson, Jim Kale
Lenny Kravitz-1999

Coming back to Joni Mitchell who I have to say along with Leonard Cohen are likely the two most influential artists, followed closely by Gordon Lightfoot. Sorry Bieber fans!

“A Case of You” -Covered 89 times
Written by Joni Mitchell – 1971 (Blue)
Addison Agen from the Voice 2017
Heike Kraske & Uwe Arenz (from Germany also covered by Les Brünettes)-2011
Gabriela Díaz -from Argentina 2018

Some other interesting covers; Frank Stallone (Sylvester Stallone’s brother)-1984, James Blake-2011, k.d. lang – 2004, Dianna Krall – 2002 and Dr. James Coane an American folksinger from the sixties who became a Psychiatrist and started recording again in the 2000’s.

“River” by Joni Mitchell also from the Album “Blue” 1971 covered 171 times. This has become a Holiday favorite and shows up on a lot of Christmas Albums as linked below, however I don’t believe this was the intention of Joni at all when she originally released this song.
Bettie Serveert, from the Netherlands (1998)
Robert Downy Jr. (2000)
Sarah McLachlan (2006)
Blue Rodeo- 2014

Other notable covers; James Taylor who sometimes accompanied Joni on her albums (2004), MARIA PIA DE VITO (vocals) DANILO REA, ENZO PIETROPAOLI, ALDO ROMANO in 2005, Sam Smith (2017), Cee Lo Green (2012) and Herbie Hancock featuring Corinne Bailey Rae (2007).

References; Wikipedia,


  1. Yes Randy. I do remember! Here is a link to an article about a Canadian connection to a Nazareth song.

    1. Interesting how a song title can emote such a reaction, certainly in a live setting it's easy to misinterpret the meaning. And, I didnt want to say why you may not remember...

    2. not to imply that you were or could have been under the influence of any substance at the time


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