Toronto’s Eamon McGrath pens ode to Saskatoon on latest album
Eamon McGrath, originally from Edmonton and now based out of Toronto, is about to drop his latest album Young Canadians. While it’s easily one of his sharpest efforts to date – McGrath is immaculate in his punk rock-meets-folk troubadour delivery – one of the more noticeable moments in the LP is the song entitled “Saskatoon, SK.”
In addition to the pretty, laidback slide guitar lines that buffalo into a grit-heavy, kicked-over distortion pedal chorus, the song pays homage to our dear old town in McGrath’s typical poetically-loving way.
However, it turns out McGrath isn’t the only non-local dude to write about our prairie town. Ominocity compiles a list of our top five songs about Saskatoon, in addition to a sweet explanation from McGrath on his own take on the Bridge City.
Eamon McGrath – “Saskatoon, SK.”
“’Saskatoon, SK’ is about this morning I took the Greyhound overnight from Edmonton on my last tour of Canada and ended up at the bus station at 6am in a blazing hot prairie summer morning. The shadows were 1000 feet long and papers were blowing across desolate wide streets. I walked across 23rd street into the empty mall and saw those huge photographs of turn-of-the-century Saskatchewan and thought about all the history that had walked across the emptiness of the city at 6 o’clock, and thought about a lot of good and a lot of bad. The awfulness of Neil Stonechild and the Starlite Tours, the greatness of the NDP, Tommy Douglas, my good friend Holzkopf, Poser Disposer, prairie punk rock, about that feeling when I lived on the prairies and I felt so much louder then than I do now because my amplifier was like a mountain amidst the flatness that surrounded it.
At the heart, it’s still just a really tender country song…”
“I thought about how Saskatoon has been my second home, how my mom was born in Prince Albert, how I’ve always had half a heartbeat in Saskatoon and how the audiences there have always loved what I do. It’s a patriotic song about where I grew up in this really indirect way, in this sense that every time I’ve ever come back to Saskatoon I always felt in this backwards way that I was coming home. But, there’s still this darkness to it, the way that these people retreat to their homes at night and roll up the sidewalks except in Alphabet City where there’s always some poor little kid throwing rocks at his wasted mom’s window at 4am trying to wake her up so she can let him in.
“‘Saskatoon, SK’ is both an homage and a goodbye to the prairies, and it’s done in what I thought was supposed to be this really grungy, punk-rock style of production and delivery, but at the heart, it’s still just a really tender country song.”
— As told by Eamon McGrath
Lyrics: “As time passes in Saskatoon this shit is waiting for you.”
The Guess Who – “Running Back to Saskatoon”
The perennial favourite that graces the Facebook status updates of every prairies ex-pat who comes home for Christmas. However, this song is either sort of inflammatory or wholly accurate depending on who you talk to.
Lyrics: “In that province there’s a small town, uh, where nothing much ever happens, called Saskatoon.”
Johnny Cash – “Saskatoon Girl”
Legend has it that Cash, the Man in Black, made frequent trips up north to go fishing in the Lac La Ronge area. While he probably didn’t actually fall in love with a girl from Saskatoon, he was a little more favourable than The Guess Who. Still, he did manage to take a jab at the weather.
Lyrics: “I’m freezing but I’m burning for the girl in Saskatoon.”
Painted Thin – “I Left a Love Note on the Wall in Saskatoon”
Winnipeg’s Painted Thin once played a show at the infamous local punk house Old Calcutta back in the mid-to-late nineties. Shit didn’t go so well. Rumour has it – I was actually there that night but my memory is far too shot to remember the details – that an incident occurred after the band took exception to the girlie poster that hung on the wall. I’ve heard about five different versions of the story. One version is this song, which sounds like a first year Gender Studies essay over some sloppy punk rock. I liked their first CD, a split with John K. Samson, a lot better. Fun fact: Guitarist Stephen Carroll also played in The Weakerthans.
Lyrics: “It’s the five day punk rock boy’s club world tour.”
PS I Love You – “Saskatoon”
I haven’t heard this yet as this won’t be released until May or some such nonsense. What would prompt an Ontario-based indie rock band to write a song about Saskatoon? Any guesses?
Yeah, yeah, we missed a few… a lot. Which is why we covered our asses by saying it’s a ‘Top 5’ list. So, what did we miss? I remember a song by a local crust-punk band called Social Decay that was about the old Voyageur restaurant at the Esso on Idylwyld. I think the lyrics were along the lines of “Bloodbath at the Voy, Oi! Oi! Oi!”