Introduction: ‘Get Away From Me’: Anglo-Canadian Music and the Globalization of American Culture

  • Tristanne Connolly
Part of the Pop Music, Culture and Identity book series (PMCI)


This introductory chapter seeks to establish, query, and view through a musical lens, some of the key ideas that have been associated with the study of Canadian identity and the cultural relationship between Canada and the United States. It does so primarily through a reading of The Guess Who’s ‘American Woman’, its composition, its place in rock history, and its reception. Particular attention is given to the song’s presence in Canadian writer and actor Mike Myers’ film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and the accompanying cover version by Lenny Kravitz. Canadian responses to the monolithic American culture machine, and that quintessentially American invention, rock ‘n’ roll, are set in a larger picture of export and appropriation, particularly the British Invasion which, from a more culturally and politically powerful position, similarly sang America longingly and imitatively, but also with the critical insight of distance. The focus on anglo-Canadian music from the late 1960 s onward allows the collection to examine what could be called the soundtrack of the golden age of Canadian ‘left-nationalism’ and trace that era’s cultural legacy, as it spawned many of the givens which still inform discussion of Canadian identity, whether those concepts are upheld or challenged. The anglo-Canadian focus, and the focus on rock, folk and alternative traditions, sets the critical gaze on that place where the differences between Canadian and American culture are most troublingly unclear. The introduction also considers the perspective of music in the new North American studies, and the light it can shed on the meaning of nation in a proclaimed post-nationalist world.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tristanne Connolly
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishSt Jerome’s University in the University of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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