Here’s a clip of Canadian popsters Wild Strawberries with their 1994 piece of radio ear-candy, ‘Life Sized Marilyn Monroe’ as taken from their album Bet You Think I’m Lonely. This tune proves that more bluesy guitar and soul horns are needed in pop music. And it proves that even if you’re a doctor by day (which this husband-and-wife duo are), you can (or could at least) still get a record on the radio.
By day, I’m a marketing and social media dude at a building materials company in downtown Vancouver. In my spare time, when I’m not chasing my three-year old around the house, I write a blog about music which is this very thing you are looking at. I feel it’s kind of a nice balance. But these guys – vocalist Roberta Carter Harrison and Ken Harrison were doctors – doctors! And they use their spare time to make pop records in a home studio in a converted church just outside of Toronto. Respect!
This tune was a bright point in pop music on Canadian radio in the early 90s. It’s got tons of soulful and bluesy guitar and horns (yay horns!) that kind of comes off like a more chipper Cowboy Junkies. The lyrics concern someone with very unrealistic expectations who is trying to draw everyone into their fantasy. With all of the American iconography in the song, you might think that our Canadian love-hate relationship with the all-encompassing American cultural maelstrom might be the subject matter here. I think it’s just about a phony who’s about to get dumped, myself.
I always thought this band was underexposed, like most great Canadian music. The funny thing about music in Canada seems to be that many think that it needs protecting, that it needs a push because it can’t make it out there alone. We’ve got laws in place to make sure that Canadian Content gets a specified amount of air time.
But, did we really need a law to protect this dazzling piece of pop splendour? No. What we need is to invest time in quality artists, instead of measuring ourselves against the output of other cultures. We’ve got a rich history of grass roots pop music-making in this country, a vibrant indie scene which we tend leave in the dust when bigger musical movements in other countries come along that ‘threaten’ our cultural identity.
I wish our superlative and unique indie music traditions would be the focus of our cultural investments, instead of making sure that the twenty songs on infinite repeat get played, or that the artist, or producer, or the guy that makes the Tim Horton’s run during the recording was born in Canada. Because otherwise, we’ll be in danger of ghettoizing our own culture, assuming we aren’t already.
For more information about this duo, check out the Wild Strawberries Official Site.