Ontario-based skate-punk band, Handheld, has released their second single from their upcoming album, A Canadian Tragedy, which will be available on June 14th, 2022. The single titled “The Log Driver’s Waltz” is currently available for streaming anywhere you get your music.
Of the upcoming album, the band says, “Yes, sorry, we know we are friendly folk full of maple syrup and cheese curds. But Canada is not without its fair share of issues. A Canadian Tragedy is full of songs about love, irony, coverup, scandal, folklore and tradition all with a Canadian twist. 11 Fast melodic punk songs written with sing-along melodies and lyrics that make you go hmmm.”
More specifically, “The Log Driver’s Waltz” is a melodic, punk-rock reimagining of a classic Canadian folk song. The original “The Log Driver’s Waltz” was written by Wade Hemsworth—a Royal Canadian Air Force veteran from Brantford, Ontario. The song celebrated the profession of log driving, which Wade believed resembled dancing. Wade passed away in 2002 at the age of 85, but many of his songs continue to be iconic Canadian ballads.
According to the Toronto Guardian, “In 1977, CBC’s children’s programming contacted the National Film Board of Canada and asked them to produce several short films to use in between programming. The NFB was allocated $2 million, as part of a $13 million federal investment into cultural agencies promoting national unity, which they partly used to make the films. Eighty filmmakers from across Canada worked on the project which took three-years. The Most famous of these films, to date, is The Log Driver’s Waltz. The film was directed and animated by John Weldon and released in 1979 with the recording of the song by Kate and Anna McGarrigle and The Mountain City Four as the soundtrack to the animation.”
Overall, I think Handheld did a pretty good job of paying homage to a Canadian classic. They effectively carried through their signature punk sound, which reminds me of bands such as Rise Against and The Offspring. The band kept all of the original lyrics the same, with the addition of a new verse: “In the 80s I would watch cartoons as a kid/This Canadian Vignette got stuck in my head/this plaid wearing goldilocks toque sporting man/this hero we’d all call a log driver/you’ve probably seen him if you watched CBC/log rolling with beavers or taking a leap/over a moose, he’d never fall/Swinging round girls waist just like a stripper pole.” Personally, I wish they would have left out their new verse. The lyrics seem lazily written and the mention of a stripper pole in what was essentially a children’s song feels a little uncouth.
Handheld also released a music video for the song, which showcases the original NFB animated adaption with images of the band member’s faces pasted into the video. It’s just the right amount of silly while representing and creating interest in a piece of Canadian history.