This playlist is less about songs for the road and more about tunes suited to a popular summer road trip destination, the cottage. The arrangements are laid back, the melodies pretty and the lyrics suggestive of rural locales.

Fell off the Dock – Jim Bryson

Two things happened before Ottawa’s Jim Bryson recorded his most recent album. First, he moved back to the semi-rural neighbourhood he grew up in, and second, he made fast friends with the good guys in Winnipeg’s The Weakerthans. The result was The Falcon Lake Incident, a record he made with The Weakerthans as his backing band, full of songs inspired by his new life on the outskirts of town. Fell off the Dock is a two-stepping lakeside lament that rings vaguely familiar; after all, who among country-dwellers has never said to a city-slicker friend “everybody loves it here but you”?
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Bobcaygeon – The Tragically Hip

No one but The Hip could have written this song, a tale of a police officer on crowd control duty in big-city Toronto bookended with a quiet, enduring love story – the kind that usually doesn’t even get written about – set in the tiny titular town in Ontario cottage country. No doubt this song gets a lot of play lakeside in the Kawarthas every summer, but it’s so universal that it works anywhere.
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The Hideout – Sarah Harmer

The natural world figures heavily in Harmer’s music, and in her personal life. This song’s not about that (though she has written one about the Escarpment), but talks about the joys of retreating to the solitude of a rural home. I always think of this song as being sung by an adolescent version of Harmer; the simple, but not simplistic lyrics and clear images of comfort and nature in the face of a challenging, undefined relationship are deeply evocative. We can see the green, we can feel the rain, and we can smell the summer air, and it gives us as much peace as it gives the singer.
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The Village Green Preservation Society – Kate Rusby

Originally written by Ray Davies and recorded by The Kinks, this Kate Rusby cover is my preferred version, mainly for Rusby’s delicate, bell-clear vocal delivery that smiles gently at, but never smirks at, Davies’ amusing and slightly loopy lyrics. The original is great (it’s The Kinks!), but Rusby’s relaxed arrangement is much better-suited to reclining on the dock with a cold one. Plus, her accent is adorable.
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This Tornado Loves You – Neko Case

The concepts behind Neko Case’s songs can be obtuse, but her gift for crafting melodies is pretty incredible, and her voice one of the most distinctive in popular music. This Tornado comes from her most recent offering Middle Cyclone, a record laced with stormy weather through and through. It struck me that this album-opener, a stalker-esque love song written from the perspective of a violent twister (or lover?) would be particularly haunting to listen to while watching an evening thunderstorm roll across the lake.
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