Sometimes Canada can seem like another world to us Americans, but Canadians are still a lot like us. For instance, they also have hometowns, and often have conflicted relationships with those hometowns. If you don’t believe me—if you don’t believe that Canadians, as a society of human beings who are born, live and die in settlements that can be described as “towns,” have what we in the US would call a hometown—then, well, first off that’s weird, and secondly here’s an actual Canadian to set you right.
Harris Anderson is a rising young comedian from Canada who just signed to 604 Records. (Yes, he’s labelmates with Carly Rae.) He’ll be releasing his first album, Above and Beyond, on Nov. 2 (available pretty much wherever you get your music these days). It’s a combination of stand-up and original songs, and his first single is called, aptly, “Hometown.” It is an ode to, yes, the hometown—a subject that long fascinated such singer-songwriters as Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, and other heroes from the golden age of the heartland rocker. It is proof that Canadians are in fact familiar with the concept of the hometown, and also a darkly silly inversion of the wistful nostalgia you usually hear in songs about hometowns.
Here’s the video; keep reading below for some thoughts from Anderson himself.
I asked Anderson a few questions about his actual hometown to suss out exactly how autobiographical this song is. No surprise: it’s not. At least I don’t think so—I don’t think his answers were entirely on the level.
“My real hometown is nothing like the charming hamlet from the video,” Anderson wrote to me. “It is a godless place, where every summer there is a draw to determine who will be stoned to death to ensure a bountiful corn harvest.” He doesn’t get back home too often—”I return there sporadically, mainly because I am a big corn fan”—but despite the apocalyptic vision of his song “Hometown” he doesn’t necessarily wish to destroy his actual hometown. (Entertainment isn’t always based on facts—who knew?) He acknowledges that he might be playing some part in its inevitable end, though, if just by existing in this world today—”I feel like simply by saying I am from there I am playing some small part in its destruction,” he wrote.
Anderson claims that his biggest musical inspiration for the song is Ryan Adams, who is from North Carolina and not Canada. “I regard [Adams] as a fine songsmith,” Anderson told me. “I think he is the best lyricist of his generation. I wrote him a fan letter once, but I believe the postman delivered it to Bryan Adams by mistake, which is why I never received a response.”
Don’t say Harris Anderson isn’t a risk-taker—if Ryan Adams hears that joke he’ll probably ban Anderson from his shows for life.
Above and Beyond will be out on Nov. 2. Two weeks later he follows it up with a holiday-themed EP, scheduled for Nov. 16. Dude’s doing his hometown proud, no matter how badly burnt out it might be today.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s comedy and games sections. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.