Life Is Like Canadian Football and Other Authentic Folk Songs
Henry Adam Svec, 193pgs, Invisible Publishing, invisible publishing.com, $19.95
I may be the perfect reader for this book.Life Is Like Canadian Football and Other Authentic Folk Songs follows a supposed folklorist through the highways and, mostly, byways of Canadian folk music from the discovery of a trove of folk songs written by CFL players to indie darlings of the 2000s. I have followed Henry Adam Svec’s chronicles of Canadian folk music—both realand thoroughly imagined—for years now while volunteering in community radio hosting folk music shows. His dusty searching in Library and Archives Canada appeals to me as a librarian and his dalliances with an AI machine named LIVINGSTONE who writes folk music is a pleasure for anyone who delights in the absurd.
Separating fact from fiction in this book would be a PhD in itself and probably not the point. Svec takes a scholarly approach to amystical journey asking again and again, “What is folkmusic?” The foot notes are robust and full of fake journals and imagined monographs. He pokes fun at academia and folk music and yet the tenderness for both shines through. This is wholesome satire and the type of Canadiana I long for. The strange purpose of the folklorist is always in question. Maybe there is no point but as one of his recorded songs declares, “You only get one life, But you gotta live it till you die: It doesn’t matter what you try.”We have the AIto thank for that wisdom. The absurdity is turned up loud, the beauty still gets through, and this is a book I’ll recommend again and again.