Women’s Music: The Be Good Tanyas

In avoidance of my anger towards the Amazon Fail (recent details coming soon not withstanding), I thought I would introduce you to one of my favourites. A Vancouver trio of folk artists, The Be Good Tanyas have so many beautiful songs I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to share, but as soon as I came across this one I thought it best. The Downtown Eastside of Vancouver is widely known for it’s jarring poverty, homelessness, prostitution and drug addiction. Over the years the neighbouring communities have pushed the down-trodden further and further into its belly, leaving it possibly the grimmest part of British Columbia. While the Junkie Song embedded below is not necessarily speaking about the Downtown Eastside (there are no Skytrain stations within the community – ok there’s Main St, but that’s actually just south of the area), the video maker has fittingly included many shots of this part of Vancouver.

What am I supposed to do? 
There are too many of you 
Too many of you… 
Yet sometimes I look you in the eye 
And say that I too am human. 
I could easily be you… 

You know we all hover between apathy and compassion. 
We fill up all our days with so much distraction. 
It makes it easier not to see what we don’t want to
But we all live here
We all live here.
We all live lonely.

From Ken Cox’s biographical blurb on their website:

Some have called these three anachronistic – they dress in outfits that hearken back to the Roaring Twenties; their Chinatown cover is decorated with Tetley Tea graphics from long ago. Perhaps they are neoclassicists; perhaps they are pacifistic postmodernists; perhaps they just love the old songs and love writing and singing new songs that just sound old. It is amazing that a group from Vancouver, British Columbia shows Americans what their own music sounds like. The Be Good Tanyas make modernly nostalgic music; one listen to any of their projects (especially the Stephen Foster song “Oh, Susanna” on Blue Horse) and one is hooked permanently.

If someone’s looking for traditional American sounds that return to the Jimmie Rodgers/Carter Family era, he or she can find those sounds in this trio. If a person longs for sparse instrumentation along with voices that do not bellow or boast, he or she can find musical peace with these three ladies. If a person wants to hear performers who embrace the folk, country, and blues roots of American music with a little touch of the contemporary, then The Be Good Tanyas are voices that come out of the wilderness and onto center stage, performing music that transcends their birthdates and transports their listeners from the past to the present and vice-versa. Sam, Frazey, and Trish are an open-ended musical time capsule in suspended animation – out of the wilderness and into CD speakers and human ears – awaiting a musical feast.

I don’t know what else to add. Oh! I love them 🙂


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