The Track Toronto interactive project collects and maps songs about Toronto, enabling listeners to walk through the city while hearing tunes related to specific places. Leonard Cohen's Closing Time, say, about the Matador Club at 466 Dovercourt. Signs with QR code lyrics on them dot various neighbourhoods; use your smartphone to hear the accompanying song.
It's a cool idea, but not uncontroversial. Jazz musician Elizabeth Shepherd's song Parkdale was chosen by the trio behind Track Toronto, but when its lyric "Chalk hearts on broken streets, smoking sweet relief" appeared at Elm Grove and King, a complaint sent to Councillor Gord Perks's office caused it to be taken down a day later.
Shepherd, who wrote the song about Parkdale resident/political candidate/folk hero Kevin Clarke, is disappointed.
"What exactly was it that people found so offensive in a couple of lines of a lyric?" she says in an email to NOW. "Was the reaction one of a neighbourhood that wants to rewrite its own history? Seeing as that song is rooted in my actual experience as a long-time Parkdalian, is it reality, then, that is offensive?"
Ohbijou's To Rest In Peace On Righteous Tides, about a daydream about being shot at the Parkdale Dollarmart, also didn't last long. Others have fared better, including Tony Dekker's Parkdale Blues.
Learn more about the project at listentotrack.ca.
Eyes on the Prize
There's never any certainty about who'll take home the $30,000 Polaris Music Prize each year, but it's a sure bet that the gala will be entertaining. This year's short list boasts a lot of marquee names who may or may not perform - Arcade Fire, Drake - as well as beguiling lesser-known ones like Tanya Tagaq and Jessy Lanza, who hopefully will. And with actor/comedian Jay Baruchel hosting the September 22 event at the Carlu, expect greater than average yuks (though Kathleen Edwards was pretty hilar last year). Tickets ($50) have just gone on sale to the public at polarismusicprize.ca. Act fast - there are only 120 of 'em.