Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – Happy Birthday

CamAnd yet another year sails by in the ever-shrinking ocean of life. As my friend Alex would say “and how did we get here”? I’m not really sure but it has been a very interesting ride with lots of tight turns, steep inclines, long open stretches and more than a few traffic jams. Yes, Mr. Hagar I can drive 55. When I turned 50, at a wonderful party at the late great Shanghai Cowgirl, I assembled a compilation of the 50 most influential songs in my life; songs that inspired, amused, rocked and just flat-out moved me emotionally. Some of these songs I discovered as a pre-teen and others much later in life.

Sam'sWhen you look at the list you can see that wheelhouse of music that engrained itself in my psyche from the ages of about 14 to 21, the golden days when you trekked downtown to Sam’s or Records On Wheels and brought the vinyl home to devour each and every note and each and every word on the jacket and inner sleeve. I feel fortunate to have been around in records-on-wheelsthis era. The mix was called `50 4 50` and I picked only one song for each artist (although a few songwriters have more than one selection). I didn’t pick the best known number or the obscure hipster tune, just the songs that meant something to me. I am sure the list will be laughable to many but I got married to one of the songs, named a daughter after another and still shed an occasional tear when I hear one from a friend who has since passed. That`s the power of the song.

Steven DaveyBefore I move on I would be remiss not to mention something that we heard about earlier this week and had a big impact on Bob, Jaimie and myself. Steven Davey, one of the original Queen Street West pioneers of the Toronto music scene, and long-time food columnist for Now, passed away. When the Peter Pan Restaurant and The Beverly were the epicentre of Queen West, Steven was in the middle of it all shaking things up with his marvelous band The Dishes and his need and want for everyone around the Ontario College of Art to form a band and build a scene, a fact that he accomplished and perhaps does not get enough credit for. When I took my first tentative steps into that scene Steven was one of the first people I met. I loved The Dishes (Bullseye has a brilliant career spanning retrospective) as they reminded me of my much-loved Sparks. For an east end, non-musical, hockey playing teenager the scene opened up another world. Gay was a word tossed around the smoking area of my high school but it wasn’t The Dishesuntil I watched and loved bands such as Rough Trade, Drastic Measures and The Dishes that I actually began to understand a little bit about the lifestyle and see how and hear it’s profound influence on our culture. When The Fiesta opened on Yonge Street I was exposed to The Isaacs Gallery and a whole new world of art opened up to me and, of course, Steven was there. File Magazine, General Idea and Shades helped move our local culture forward and gave us the confidence that we were doing something special. Steven was 8 years older than I and was so worldly and art savvy that it intimidated me, he would speak of writers, musicians and artists that I had no idea about and, looking back, now realize were world-changers. He had a sarcastic and often cutting sense of humour but he always had time for me and taught me a lot about the world we live in. Thank you Mr. Davey.

Here are the 50 songs that changed my life; they are not in any order, and, looking back five years later I don’t think I would change too many. I shall let Mr. Segarini choose ten videos.

(Editor’s Note: Well, seeing as how “Mr. Segarini” cannot afford to get you that place up North you have always wanted, I decided that my gift to you would be the single most important thing any of us have to give to someone we care about; Time. Many happy returns of the day, Old Friend. It was a pleasure to devote the time to making sure ALL 50 of your favourite birthday tunes are here for your dining and dancing pleasure. Happy Birthday, Cam…and much love to you and yours. Now…where’s the party?)

1.       Intro/Sweet Jane (Live) – Lou Reed

2.       The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Genesis

3.       Waiting On A Friend – The Rolling Stones

4.       Spanish Stroll – Mink DeVille

5.       True Romance – Andrew Matheson

6.       I Ain’t Ever Satisfied – Steve Earle

7.       Photograph – Ringo Starr

8.       Young Americans – David Bowie

9.       Discovering Japan – Graham Parker

10.   Airport – The Motors

11.   Africa – Thundermug

12.   88 Lines About 44 Woman – The Nails

13.   Talent Is An Asset – Sparks

14.   Marionette – Mott The Hoople

15.   When Something Stands For Nothing – Headstones

16.   Israelites – Desmond Dekker

17.   The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel – Grandmaster Flash

18.   Rock Box – Run D.M.C.

19.   Rock And Roll, Hoochie Koo – Rick Derringer

20.   Muscle Of Love – Alice Cooper

21.   Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush

22.   Houses Of The Holy – Led Zeppelin

23.   Surrender – Cheap Trick

24.   Go All The Way – Raspberries

25.   Stay With Me – The Faces

26.   Same Old Song And Dance – Aerosmith

27.   S’cool Days – Stanley Frank

28.   Underwhelmed – Sloan

29.   Beat On The Brat – The Ramones

30.   New York Groove – Ace Frehley

31.   Gloria – Patti Smith

32.   Sonic Reducer – Dead Boys

33.   Raw Power – Iggy & The Stooges

34.   Anarchy In The UK – Sex Pistols

35.   Baby, Baby – The Vibrators

36.   Possibilities – Viletones

37.   Chinese Rocks – The Heartbreakers

38.   People Who Died – Jim Carroll Band

39.   Trash – New York Dolls

40.   New York City Cops – The Strokes

41.   (I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea – Elvis Costello

42.   (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais – The Clash

43.   (Make Me Do) Anything You Want – A Foot In Coldwater

44.   Brickfield Nights – The Boys

45.   Hard To Laugh – The Pursuit Of Happiness

46.   This Flight Tonight – Nazareth

47.   Rock Billy Boogie – Robert Gordon

48.   Ferry Cross The Mersey – Gerry & The Pacemakers

49.   Girl Of My Dreams – Bram Tchaikovsky

50.   Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

And so, a year old, but no wiser, I am wading into the ten days of madness that is the 20th Anniversary of NXNE.


Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59.

Contact us at:

Cam likes to plant his butt on the roof of the Bovine and soak up a few rays.

The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll are proud to be presented by The Bovine Tiki Bar and The Bovine. The Tiki Bar welcomes the mild to hot weather and The Bovine presents great bands downstairs at the legendary rock bar. Fill up next store at The Rock Lobster and then get your rocks off at The Bovine. 

DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener, The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music, NXNE Magazine and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

3 Responses to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – Happy Birthday”

  1. Great list! Happy birthday Cam!

  2. Tom Williams Says:

    I didn’t think that anyone but Al and myself remembered S ‘cool Days. I still think it is a great song. It didn’t do much but did end up on a couple of compilations. Stanley was the only artist, as far as I remember that came in without an appointment or a reference from someone that we signed. Al will correct me on this if I am wrong.

  3. A great list that brought back many memories.

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