Furious Prairie Folk and The Ferocious Saskatuan Monster
We gotta get out of this place
If it's the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place,
'cause girl, there's a better life... for me and you
The Animals, "We Gotta Get out of This Place"
Don’t Mess With The Prairie Folk
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in recent days it’s that you should never mess with the prairie folk, not unless you're willing to face the dreaded Saskatuan sarcasm mechanism.
Here’s how it all went down:
This past week, after the main Neil Young fan site, Neil Young News/Thrasher’s Wheat, put up an excerpt from an old piece of mine called Talkin' Prairie Triangle of Inspiration (A.K.A. Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell Make Their Great Escape) a backlash of sorts occurred, one initiated and led by a few of those afore-mentioned good folk out on the prairie... and all of a sudden I found myself facing a barrage of bitter, angry, sarcasm. Yes, words of indignation were unceremoniously being spewed in my general direction. And I literally unleashed a monster.
You see, the central premise of this Talkin' Prairie Triangle piece, for those of you who haven't yet read it, is that after growing up within this barren cultural wasteland out on the prairie (that is, the Saskatoon-Winnipeg-Hibbing Triangle - though I’ve now been informed that Hibbing is not, in fact, on the prairie at all), Neil, Bob and Joni all got the hell out as soon as they possibly could.
Now I do see how calling the prairies a "cultural wasteland" may have offended some, but I don’t see how anyone could disagree with my apt description of the region as “the middle of nowhere”.
Even Thrasher himself, the guy who runs the Neil site, says he had no idea it would cause such an angry response.
Of course the piece is supposed to be a bit tongue in cheek and at least somewhat humorous. I mean, it certainly wasn’t written as some sort of scathing attack on the good people of the prairies. No, it was clearly just meant to be a piece praising Bob, Neil and Joni for having the good sense to get the hell out of there (“there he goes again!”).
Either way, I don’t think my intentions matter much to the incensed prairie folk. Nor to that Saskatuan creature either, for that matter. It would seem I’ve burned all of my bridges with all of them. It would seem that I’ve simply gone too far in assuming that these three great musicians all made the right choice in leaving and heading off to Toronto and/or New York and, eventually, California. Sadly, it would seem that I'm no longer welcome on the prairie.
Memories of Prairie Life
I should mention that I spent a summer in Saskatchewan, back in 1979, living and working on an enormous farm owned by a friend of my dad's, and I had an amazing time there. I was only 12 and I got to drive a car and shoot lots of rats at the dump (not something I'm proud of or that I'd want to do today, but it was sure one hell of a good time when I was 12 years old).
I remember lots of friendly people there, great chocolate milkshakes at the cafes, listening to a lot of Supertramp and The Cars, and a crazy, intense love for the local Roughriders football team. It was a truly great summer.
I should also mention that I’ve driven across the country numerous times and the prairies, though a bit monotonous, have always struck me as beautiful and, uh, vast.
Of course with eight months of the year spent inside trying to survive the minus-40 degree winter months, it's also a perfect place to work on your guitar, singing and song-writing skills, which is part of what explains this overabundance of musical talent that emerged from such a relatively tiny population.
Furthermore, I should also point out that Tommy Douglas - one of my political heroes and one of the greatest Canadians of all time - helped radically transform Canada for the better from right there in Saskatchewan.
And, finally, I should say that in my full piece - though not part of the excerpt that appeared on the Neil Young News/Thrasher‘s Wheat site - I did mention that my own dear mom is from Winnipeg. However, I have to admit I did also talk about how she, too, escaped at the earliest possible opportunity.
Rage Against The Combine
So, come on prairie folk, ease up on the anger already. Ok, "cultural wasteland" may have been a bit extreme and harsh, but just accept it: Bob, Neil and Joni weren’t going anywhere unless they got the hell out of there. And that’s not an insult, that’s just reality.
And, hey, the prairies may not be the center of civilization, but at least you've got those great Saskatoon berries that everyone loves. And Gordie Howe too. And, as I just learned, that infamous Saskatuan beast as well.
And don't forget that you gave the world Bob, Neil and Joni.
So, be proud! And let that anger go.
To see the angry comments and to read all about that infamous Saskatuan monster, click here.
Mike Cowie (Oredakedo)
Sunday, February 15th, 2009
To see my original piece click here: Talkin' Prairie Triangle of Inspiration (A.K.A. Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell Make Their Great Escape)
To visit the Neil Young News/Thrasher’s Wheat site click here
To see my picks for the best music of 2008 click here: The Best 20 Albums and 50 Songs of 2008: Dylan Tops Both Lists
If you're a fan of Dylan then make sure to check this out: The 25 Greatest Dylan Songs of The Past 20 Years
And to read my two - yes two - recent rave reviews of Tell Tale Signs click here: Bob's Back: Tell Tale Signs of Joy... and A Complete Lack of Judgement
For more on Neil Young try this: The Neil Young Rave: A Film, Two Albums and Incarnations For Everyone
And if you like Bob, Neil and Joni then you're probably going to like this guy as well: The Todd Snider "Peace Queer" Rave
And for much more on all things Dylan click here: The Bob (as in Dylan)
Or for more on other artists and albums click here: Music Homepage
Or here: Music: Album and Concert Raves