The 200 or so songs in this section are accessible in four (4) ways:
- By series/selection, using the drop-downs to the right of songs. Here you find the > “Connections series” followed by a number of sub-series or “selections” such as “Connections / Passages,” with the song titles or first lines or first words one below the other in the order they appear (a) on the recording from which they’re taken or (b) for the purpose of this selection
- By rail–related songs – Rail songs aren’t just about engineers and trains. Some recount historic events Many reflect a time when the railway was the centre of local life and the link to the world outside. A number have a haunting quality, like fading whistles and bygone communities they describe, that carries a message long and far.
In 1983-4 the Canadian Folk Music Society searched for Canadian rail songs; it was surprised to come up with more than 200. Many are included here and that number has long been surpassed. Hungarian music educator Zoltan Kodály (“code-eye”) said music education should begin with songs of one’s own culture. With the time we’ll be spending on the rails with Canadian Classroom…, a repertoire of good rail songs is a good point of departure.
- By regions (not provinces or territories, though provincial/territorial postal letters such as AB, BC, SK, etc. may appear after a song title, when they apply). There are six overall regions that include:
- On the Rock (NL)
- Acadia (NS-NB-PE)
- Laurentia (QU)
- Upper Canada (ON-NC)
- West of the Great Lakes/East of the Great Divide (MB-SK-AB)
- North of 60 (YT-NT-NU)
- Vancouver/Gulf Is., Lower Mainland, Inland, Haida Gwai (BC)
- By singer/songwriters who wrote them and/or recording artists where these are better known the the composers. These appear under the 3rd R standing for “Rogers and others” where they are listed alphabetically apart from our bard Stan, who comes first. Major names included in this section are Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot; there are many less well known, highly talented ones.
- Language – If you’re approaching this site from the French side, the first three search routes série/sélection, chansons ferroviaires, et chansons régionales will be pretty much as in English but under French titles when there is a French version. For chansonniers-chansonnières (singer-songwriters) the diet will be different, though anglophones may surprised to discover how many songs they know have been translated into French.
- Overlap – Many of these songs fit more than one context. Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is regional (Upper Canada/Great Lakes) and international (Canada/US Cross-border Connections). A few have a broad enough reach to appear under all the Rs: they’re Rail songs with strong Regional roots, and by one of the Canadian writers listed under Stan Rogers & Company.