Canadian Pop Songbook: easy fake book delivers great tunes! [Review]

Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, Barenaked Ladies’ If I Had $1,000,000, Michael Bublé’s Everything, Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe, Ruth B’s Lost Boy…. What do all of these songs have in common?

They’re all Canadian! And these (and more) are all in the new Canadian Pop Songbook published by Long & McQuade in partnership with Hal Leonard.

When I picked up my copy of the Canadian Pop Songbook from Long & McQuade in New Minas, NS, I knew I’d have to review it for my special Canada Day post. But wait! Do you have to be Canadian to enjoy this book? Nope! These tunes have topped the charts everywhere! It’s just really great music!

I had the chance to speak with Bob Kohl, Long & McQuade’s top print buyer and the mastermind behind the project. Bob is a super-fantastic guy. I hope that you’ll hear his passion for bringing really great print music to you. Before we get to the must-read interview, here are some quick stats and facts:

The Canadian Pop Songbook:

  • 84 pages, including covers
  • 26 titles printed in alphabetical order (easy-to-find)
  • Different musical styles (Country, Rock, Folk, Alternative…etc.)
  • Tunes in notation, easy rhythms, lyrics and fake book chords
  • 5 decades of music
  • Music by men and women
  • Represents all Canadian regions from coast to coast

Bob Kohl gives the tour

Rebekah Maxner: Who did you write this book for?

Bob Kohl: We wanted to reach as many musicians as possible, so it’s printed to be versatile. The tunes are printed in notation with lyrics, easy rhythms, and with the fake chords above. So anyone, whether you play guitar or piano or flute, can use this book. 

RM: Where did the idea for the book come from?

BK: Long & McQuade belongs to the Retail Print Music Dealers’ Association. Every third Saturday in August we celebrate International Print Music Day, and we’d been asking ourselves how Long & McQuade could contribute to that. I came up with the idea of creating a book of Canadian songs. I headed up the project through Long & McQuade, partnering with Hal Leonard. Their (HL’s) arrangers and in-house art team helped to make the dream of launching a new songbook series become a reality for us!

RM: What makes the book easy to use?

BK: Every song is in the key of C [or Am], so it can be a great tool to use as an intro to harmonizing. 

RM: Also, for those who want to sing along, if they need to transpose for the range of their voice, it would be a great way to introduce transposing the fake book style of music. 

RM: How can piano teachers use this book?

BK: Conservatory Canada has a keyboard harmony component in their exams. This book is an ideal resource for that. Fake book helps teach the skill of chording and harmonizing, and so it could be used for exams or recitals.

RM: Also, when Registered Music Teachers celebrate Canada Music Week nationally each November this is a treasure trove of Canadian content, not only for performances, but for the singing of O Canada at the opening of the student recitals. It would be great for a student to play the national anthem from their own harmonization.

RM: How did you choose which Canadian titles to include?

BK: Because we were working with Hal Leonard, we had access to their vast catalogue, and they took care of the licensing for us. The content represents a broad range of Canadian musicians – five decades from the ‘70s up to now. The book has Gordon Lightfoot to k.d. lang to Alessia Cara and Sean Mendez. I wanted the book to have content from all regions, like there’s Welcome to the Rock from Newfoundland’s musical Come from Away.

RM: It’s almost like an education in what actually is Canadian music. Like, I didn’t know that Lost Boy is a Canadian song! 

BK: I also wanted the cover to represent all regions. It starts with the Parliament building at the top, the CN tower in Toronto, the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove, prairie farmland, Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, and the Rocky mountains. The book also has O Canada in both official languages, with the new gender-neutral lyrics.

RM: What’s your personal favourite song in the book?

BK: (Thinks.) They’re all my favourites, but I’d have to say O Canada. I’m from the USA, and I’ve been living in Canada for 27 years. In 2011, I became a Canadian citizen. At the citizenship ceremony, it was truly an emotional experience singing the national anthem. So, I think that makes O Canada my favourite.

RM: It says Volume 1. When can we expect Volume 2?

BK: Well, right now with COVID, the project has been on pause. Like me, many of the Hal Leonard musicians and team are working from home a lot of the time. But we’re hoping to release Volume 2, which will be a Christmas songbook, sometime in October.

RM: Any sneak-peek info on the titles in Volume 2?

BK: It’s going to have significant Canadian content, with secular and traditional selections, some Christmas tunes, some pop tunes, like Gordon Lightfoot’s Song for a Winter’s Night (also covered by Sarah McLachlan), and tunes from other Canadian artists like Michael Bublé. After this, we hope to continue to grow the series. There may be a camp fire songbook, a kids’ songbook, all in the same fake book format, and all with a Canadian emphasis.

RM: And where can musicians and piano teachers get this book?

BK: It’s exclusively available at Long & McQuade!

Here are the contents organized by decade:

1970s

Gordon Lightfoot
Song titleYearCanadian connectionRole
If You Could Read My Mind1970Gordon Lightfoot (PEI)Singer/songwriter
Takin’ Care of Business1974Randy Bachman (MB)Singer/songwriter
The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald1975Gordon Lightfoot (PEI)Singer/Songwriter
Canadian Pop Songbook content from the 1970s

1980s

Bryan Adams
Song titleYearCanadian connectionRole
Could I have this Dance1980Anne Murray (NS)Singer
Hallelujah1984Leonard Cohen (PQ)Singer/songwriter
Summer of ’691985Bryan Adams (ON), Jim Vallance (BC)Singer/songwriters
Working for the Weekend1981Paul Dean, Mike Reno, Matt Frenette (BC)Singer/songwriters
Canadian Pop Songbook content from the 1980s

1990s

Sarah McLachlan
Song titleYearCanadian connectionRole
Constant Craving1992K.D. Lang (AB), Ben Mink (ON)Singer/songwriters
I Will Remember You1995Sarah McLachlan (NS, BC)Singer/co-writer
If I Had $1,000,0001992Steven Page (ON), Ed Robertson (ON)Singers/songwriters
Insensitive1994Jann Arden (AB), Anne Loree (ON, AB)Singer and songwriter
My Heart Will Go On (from TITANIC)1997Celine Dion (QC)Singer
You Learn1996Alanis Morissette (ON)Singer/co-writer
You’re Still the One1998Shania Twain (ON)Singer/co-writer
Canadian Pop Songbook content from the 1990s

2000s

Michael Bublé
Song titleYearCanadian connectionRole
Everything2007Michael Bublé (BC)Singer/co-writer
How You Remind Me2001Chad Kroeger (AB), Nickelback (AB)Singer/songwriters
I’m Like a Bird2000Nelly Furtado (BC)Singer/songwriter
Keep Holding On2006Avril Lavigne (ON)Singer/co-writer
Canadian Pop Songbook content from the 2000s

2010s

Ruth B
Song titleYearCanadian connectionRole
Call Me Maybe2012Carly Rae Jepsen (BC), Joshua Ramsay (BC), Tavish Crowe (BC)Singer/songwriters
Can’t Feel My Face2015Abel Tesfaye (ON)Singer/co-writer
Despacito2017Justin Bieber (ON)Singer/co-writer
Lost Boy2015Ruth Berhe (AB)Singer/songwriter
Scars to Your Beautiful2016Alessia (Cara) Caracciolo (ON)Singer/co-writer
There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back2017Shawn Mendes (ON), Geoffrey Warburton (ON)Singer/co-writers
Welcome to the Rock2012Irene Sankoff (ON), David Hein (SK), plus it’s about NewfoundlandSongwriters
Canadian Pop Songbook content from the 2010s

This book will be versatile in any music setting, whether you’re jamming with friends (or piano students), or teaching keyboard harmony to your tween, teen and adult piano students. Get yours and enjoy!


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I appreciate shares, comments and likes. Happy teaching! ❤

Rebekah Maxner, composer, blogger, piano teacher. Follow my blog for great tips!

Video of the Week

Twinkle, Twinkle Superstar (Early Intermediate, Level 3), an expressive pop song twist on the traditional tune. From the bestselling print and eBook Old MacDonald had the Blues, Late Elementary to Early Intermediate, 12 Familiar Tunes Arranged in Today’s Popular Styles. Or, check out the Twinkle, Twinkle Superstar eSheet!

Here’s an audio clip of Twinkle, Twinkle Superstar

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