Canadian Songwriters Pen Bluegrass Songs

The following article was published in the November 2009 Issue of Country Music News, P.O. Box 7323, Ottawa, ON K1L 8E4. Ph: 613-745-6006.

Research and compilation by Larry Delaney,

Publisher and Editor of the monthly magazine.

  A CMT SPECIAL FEATURE - Researched and compiled by Larry Delaney  

Canadian-born songwriters are renowned internationally for penning some of the most popular songs recorded by Nashville artists. In fact, CMN annually (January issue) publishes a listing of songs recorded during the year by Nashville artists.Typically, that annual CMN feature makes reference to "country" recordings, but it should be noted that many Canadian songwriters have also contributed to the Americal "Bluegrass" scene.In order to provide an accurate overview of the depth of Canadian songwriter's involvement in the American bluegrass recording scene, CMN has compiled this extensive listing of songwriter's credits in Bluegrass music.


Unlike the 'country' side of things where numerous songs written by Canadian songwriters are 'charted' on the Billboard Country charts, seldom does a Canadian bluegrass songwriter get to see his/her song reach the 'charts' in the USA. Bluegrass Unlimited the bible of bluegrass music for the past four decades publishes a monthly Top 30 'National Bluegrass Survey' hit chart, the only one of its kind, and seldom does a song written by a Canadian songwriter find its way to that chart ... however, there have been exceptions.


Fred EaglesmithFRED EAGLESMITH, the lone Canadian songwriter to score a #1 hit on Bluegrass Unlimited Hit Charts with his "30 Years of Farming" song recorded by James King. LIMITED CHART ACTION NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF SONGS RECORDED.















Gordon LightfootGORDON LIGHTFOOT, the most popular Canadian songwriter with American recording artists.

Likely the only Canadian-written song ever to top the Bluegrass Umlimited hit chart came in modern time when James King scored with the #1 hit 30 Years Of Farming, a tune penned by Fred Eaglesmith (b. Hamilton, Ontario). Just recently there was a surprise entry on that chart when the bluegrass group The Circuit Riders made it on to the B.U. charts with a bluegrass version of the Neil Young penned song Powderfinger.


While Canadian songwriter action on the U.S. bluegrass charts is somewhat of a rarity, it is not because of a lack of songs recorded, as is attested to in the followin list.




It is not surprising to find the songs of Gordon Lightfoot (b. Orillia, Ontario) being the most prominent of this list. Quite early in his career, Lightfoot's songs were covered by bluegrass artisys like Mac Wiseman, and Tony Rice who recorded entire albums of Gordon Lightfoot songs. (See CMT June 2009 for special feature on "The songs of Gordon Lightfoot"). At latest count, there have been some 75 cuts by U.S. bluegrass artists of a Gordon Lightfoot song.


Another song that has frequently been recorded by U.S. Bluegrass artists is the Don Devaney (b. Halifax, N.S.) tune, "Listening To The Rain", which at last count had been covered nine times.


Adam Mitchell's (Ontario) popular tune "Out Among The Stars", noted best for versions by country artists Merle Haggard, Joe Sun, Waylon Jennings, etc. has been cut by some seven different bluegrass bands, including the legendary Seldom Scene.


There are many oddities among this listing.
Canadian songwriter Paul Anka (b. Ottawa, Ontario), noted more for his Pop songs, had his Buddy Holly popularized nugget "It Doesn't Matter Any More" recorded by a variety of U.S. Bluegrass bands and Leonard Cohen (b. Montreal, QC), also better known for his Pop songs, had his tune "Tonight Will Be Fine" recorded by the fabled duo Flatt & Scruggs.


Flatt & Scruggs also scored a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Country charts with the bluegrass-flavoured song"Just Ain't", a tune co-written by Canadian husband/wife team of Ginger & Hal Willis (b. Rouyn, QC). Folk/Rocker Robbie Robertson (b. Brantford, ON) of The Band fame has also seen several of his songs cut by U.S. Bluegrass artists.


One of the latest cuts by a U.S. Bluegrass artist of a Canadian-penned song comes from award-winnung musician Randy Kohrs who has recorded the song "Quicksand", written by Codie Prevost (b. Rose Valley, SK). Kohrs has entitled his latest album with Prevost's song.


(The following notes added by BMAC staff writer. Information supplied by Larry Delaney).

((This is a dynamic project.))


Since the original article was published in Nov 2009, several more Canadian songwriters have been successful in having their tunes recorded by U.S. Bluegrass bands.


Mike O'Reilly (b. Ottawa, ON) has had his song "Court Of Love" recorded by U.S. bluegrass artist Rhonda Vincent. This will bring the number of O'Reilly's songs recorded by U.S. Bluegrass bands to eight, placing him in the top echelon of Canadian songwriters in this list.


Hod Pharis (b. Calgary, AB) has had his song "I Heard The Bluebirds Sing" recorded by Dirt Road Sweethearts.


Canadian Songwriters Recorded By U.S. Bluegrass Band - THE LIST
Ward Allen     Colin Linden  
Maple Sugar Sweetheart Mac Wisman   Love's Like Rain John Cowan
Leroy Anderson     Charlie Major/Barry Brown  
There's a Treasure In Heaven Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver   It's Lonely I Can't Stand Williams & Clark Expidition
Paul Anka     Jim Matt  
It Doesn't Matter Anymore The Grass Cats   Old Fella Chris Jones
It Doesn't Matter Anymore Lare Williams   Adam Mitchell  
It Doesn't Matter Anymore Frances Mooney   Out Among The Stars Seldom Scene
It Doesn't Matter Anymore Kukuruza   Out Among The Stars The Chapmans
Lee Bach     Out Among The Stars Claire Lynch
Talking To Your Picture Scenic Route   Out Among The Stars Rice, Rice, Hillman & Pederson
Someone's Child Tim Graves   Out Among The Stars Modern Hicks
Borrowed Angel Bobby Osborne   Out Among The Stars Randy Kohrs
South Pa Bobby Osborne   Out Among The Stars Kirby Knob Boys
Polly Beauchamp     Joni Mitchell  
Rebels Ye Rest Seldom Scene   Both Sides Now Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Victoria Banks     Both Sides Now Randy Scruggs
Sittin' On A Goldmin Marty Raybon   Charlie McKinnon  
Willie P. Bennet     The Ghost of Bras D'Or Mac Wiseman
White Line John Starling   My Cape Breton Home Max Wiseman
White Line Jonathon Edwards   Gene MacClellan  
Ray Bonneville     Snowbird Josh Graves
Forty Nine Keeps on Talkin' Tim O'Brien   Snowbird Bobby Atkins
Norm Bowser     Snowbird Bull Harmon
Road To Jericho Charlie Waller & The Country Gentlemen   The Reunion Song Ricky Scaggs
Road To Jericho The Principals   John McDonald/Tim McDonald  
Keep Following Moses Charlie Waller & The Country Gentlemen   Nobody Loves You Like Me Rarely Herd
Keep Following Moses The Principals   Lift Those Chains Rarely Herd
Lisa Brokop     Steel Town Rarely Herd
The Day Before You Melonie Cannon   Perfect Fool Rarely Herd
Barry Brown     Mike O'Reilly  
Carpenter of Wood Bluegrass Cardinals   Baby Girl Mill Run
Carpenter of Wood Brush Arbor   Be Quiet When Willie Walks By Country Gentlemen
It's Lonely I Can't Stand Williams & Clark Expedition   Blow Wind Blow Mill Run
Alfred Bryan     Cold Cheater's Heart Del McCoury
A Cradle In Bethleham Bass Mountain Boys   Henry Walker Del McCoury
A Cradle In Bethleham Vince Gill   King's Shilling Del McCoury
Lorne Buck     Lily Hoskins Ronnie McCoury
Mountain & Memories The Country Gentlemen   Court Of Love Rhonda Vincent
Mountain & Memories Southern Rail   Hod Pharis  
Mountain & Memories Curley McCormick   I Heard The Bluebirds Sing Jim & Jessie McReynolds
Julie Chadbourne     I Heard The Bluebirds Sing Pine Mountain Railroad
A Sinner's Plea The Rarely Herd   I Heard The Bluebirds Sing Cumberland Grass
Tears From My Broken Heart The Rarely Herd   I Heard The Bluebirds Sing The Greenbriar Boys
Kerry Chater     I Heard The Bluebirds Sing Dirt Road Sweethearts
I Know A Heartache When I See One The Grass Cats   Stu Phillips  
John Clinch     Lonely City Park Mac Wiseman
Arrow Through My Heart Lost Highway   Codie Prevost  
Thanks Again Sally Jones   Quicksand Randy Kohrs
Bruce Cockburn     Tracy Reynolds  
One Day I'll Walk Front Line   Dad's Old Mandolin Little Creek
Leonard Cohen     Line Richard  
Tonight Will Be Fine Flatt & Scruggs   Little Angels Rhonda Vincent
Jim Cuddy/Greg Keelor     Hank Rivers (Lariviere)  
5 Days In May Salamander Crossing   Maple Sugar Sweetheart Mac Wiseman
Clint Curtiss     Ryan Roberts  
Angel In Disguise Charlie Monroe   Alone Jeannette Williams
Angel In Disguise Bill Monroe   Dried Roses Justin Carbone
Don Devaney     Leaving This Old Town Special Consensus
Listening To The Rain The Osborne Brothers   Robbie Robertson  
Listening To The Rain Special Concensus   Evangeline Steep Canyon Rangers
Listening To The Rain Frances Mooney   Ophelia The U-Liners
Listening To The Rain Crossfire   Ophelia The Gibson Brothers
Listening To The Rain Idle Time   The Shape I'm In Pat Flynn/Andy Thorn
Listening To The Rain Pam Gadd   The Weight Del McCoury
Listening To The Rain Ronnie Reno   Stan Rogers  
Listening To The Rain Clearwater Connection   The Marty Ellen Carter Sawmill Road
Listening To The Rain Blue Shades   Lock Keeper Kelly Lancaster
Comin' Home To Kentucky Kane's River   Robin Roller  
Comin' Home To Kentucky Cabin Fever Band   Take The Bible In Your Hand Petticoat Junction
Comin' Home To Kentucky Doc & Merle Watson   My Heart Won't Let Your Memory Go Away Valerir Smith
Fred Eaglesmith     Maurice Ruddick  
30 Years Of Farming James King   Springhill Disaster Bill Clifton
Flowers In The Dell James King   Deric Ruttan  
John Deere Art Stevenson   Lot of Leavin' Left To Do Blue Storm
The Rocket Art Stevenson   Buffy Sainte-Marie  
Wish I Was A Freight Train Blue Moon Rising   Universal Soldier Flatt & Scruggs
Wish I Was A Freight Train The McLains   Men Of The Fields Bill Staines
Carter Ralph Stanley II   Gordie Sampson  
Shiley Eikhard     Get Me Through December Alison Krauss
Something To Talk About Lonesome Road   Joseph M. Scrivens  
Tammy Fassaert     What A Friend We Have In Jesus The Stanley Brothers
Just Passin' Through Amy Gallatin   What A Friend We Have In Jesus The Osborne Brothers
Roy Forbes     What A Friend We Have In Jesus Reno & Smiley
Still A Fool Laurie Lewis   What A Friend We Have In Jesus Doc Watson
Ring The Bells At Midnight Cathy Kallick   What A Friend We Have In Jesus Skyline Drive
David Francey     What A Friend We Have In Jesus The Tilley Family
Two Faced Love Del McCoury   What A Friend We Have In Jesus Stones River Ranch Boys
Mill Towns Del McCoury   Joseph E. Seitz  
Mill Towns The Wright Kids   The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise Reno & Smiley
Mill Towns Diamond Hill Staion   The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise Raymond Fairchild
Wind In The Wires Kane's River   The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise Randall Hylton
Gary 'Pig' Gold     George Beverly Shea  
Family Tree Dixie Bee-Liners   I'd Rather Have Jesus Alison Krause
Carl Goodman     John Sheard  
Satan's Chains Ralph Stanley   Muddy River Alecia Nugent
Satan's Chains The Isaac Family   Naoise Sheridan  
Satan's Chains New Harvest   Seven Hillsides Ricky Scaggs
Satan's Chains The Principals   Reg Smith  
She Wore Pretty Dresses The Principals   Atlantic Lullaby Mac Wiseman
She Wore Pretty Dresses Charlie Waller & The Country Gentlemen   Hank Snow  
Is There Room In His Kingdom New Harvest   I'm Movin' On Mac Wiseman
Slim Gordon     Music Makin' Mama From Memphis Charlie Waller
Pistol Packin' Preacher Mac Wiseman   Music Makin' Mama From Memphis Randall Hylton
What A Waste Of Good Corn Licker Mac Wiseman   My Mother Bill Clifton
Ray Griff     My Nova Scotia Home Mac Wiseman
It Rains Just The Same In Missouri Mac Wiseman   The Golden Rocket Jim & Jessie McReynolds
It Rains Just The Same In Missouri Pete Corum   The Golden Rocket Hot Rize
J.K. Gulley     David Talbot  
In My Father's Field John Cowan   Bevan's Lake Crossing The Grascals
Nothing But The Blues John Cowan   Cut Your Wheels The Grascals
Back To Your Arms John Cowan   Wally Traugott  
Caitlin Hanford     Snowflake Breakdown John McCutcheon
Muddy Waters Alecia Nugent   Snowflake Breakdown Casey Driessen
Dallas Harms     Dougal Trineer  
Paper Rosie The Osborne Brothers   More Often Than Once In A While Del McCoury
Sharon Horovitch     Scott Turner  
Jonah's Wall Southern Rain   Laughin' Guitar Country Gazette
George W. Johnson     Ian Tyson  
When You & I Were Young Maggie Reno & Smiley   Four Rode By Lost Highway
When You & I Were Young Maggie The Stanley Brothers   Four Rode By Sawmill Road
When You & I Were Young Maggie Mac Wiseman   Four Strong Winds Flstt & Scruggs
When You & I Were Young Maggie Taymond Fairchild   Four Strong Winds Tony Rice
When You & I Were Young Maggie James Alan Shelton   Four Strong Winds Cliff Waldron
Sally Jones     Someday Soon High Hills Bluegrass Band
Some Leavin' Too Chris Jones   Summer Wages J.D. Crowe & The New South
Just A Town Chris Jones   Summer Wages Tony Rice
Witness Chris Jones   Summer Wages Chesapeake
Sound I Hear Casey & Chris Henry   Lillian Crewe Walsh  
Jack Kingston     Ghost of Bras D'Or Mac Wiseman
C.N.R. Special The McCormick Brothers   My Cape Breton Home Mac Wiseman
Fred Lavery     Paul Weber  
Get Me Through December Alison Krauss   She's No Lady Lonesome River Band
Ray Legere     Hal & Ginger Willis  
Mama's Rocking Chair Southern Rail   Just Ain't Flatt & Scruggs
Gordon Lightfoot     Just Ain't Hot Rize
Alberta Bound Jesse McReynolds   Just Ain't Gene Wooten
Alberta Bound Green Sky Bluegrass   Tom Wilson  
Bitter Green Tony Rice   As Far As Love Goes Sawmill Road
Circle Is Small Dale Ann Bradley   The Rose Of Donnally's Hollow Sawmill Road
Circle Is Small Lonesome River Band   Jesse Winchester  
Cold On The Shoulder Tony Rice   Brand New Tennessee Waltz Ralph Stanley
Cold On The Shoulder Except 2   Brand New Tennessee Waltz Dean Sapp
Cotton Jenny Mac Wiseman   Brand New Tennessee Waltz Coldwater Creek
Did She Mention My Name Mac Wiseman   Brand New Tennessee Waltz Blue Ridge
Did She Mention My Name Deannie Richardson   Lori Yates  
Don Quixote Country Gentlemen   Lonesome Highway The Rice Brothers
Fine As Fine Can Be Tony Rice   Lonesome Highway Continental Divide
Girl From The Canyon Paul Adkins   Neil Young  
Go My Way Tony Rice   Heart Of Gold The James Family
Go My Way Claire Lynch   Love Is A Rose Jim Smoak
Go My Way Front Porch Stringband   Powderfinger The circuit Riders
Go My Way Some Assembly Required      
Go My Way Meridian      
Home From The Forest Tony Rice      
Home From The Forest Downhill Bluegrass      
If It Should Please You Jesse McReynolds      
If You Could Read My Mind No Limit      
If You Could Read My Mind Dave Moody      
I'm Not Sayin' Tony Rice      
(In The) Early Morning Rain Mac Wiseman      
(In The) Early Morning Rain Tony Rice      
(In The) Early Morning Rain Jimmy Bowen & Santa Fe      
(In The) Early Morning Rain Bobby Atkins      
(In The) Early Morning Rain Emerson & Waldron      
(In The) Early Morning Rain Dale Anne Bradley      
(In The) Early Morning Rain Tim O'Brien      
(In The) Early Morning Rain No Limit      
(In The) Early Morning Rain Paul Ansell      
Let It Ride Tony Rice      
Long Way Back Home The Gibson Brothers      
Mother Of A Miner's Child Country Gentlemen      
Old Dan's Records Mac Wiseman      
Peaceful Waters The Isaacs      
Rainy Day People Mac Wiseman      
Rainy Day People Larry Rice      
Redwood Hill Country Gentlemen      
Redwood Hill The Chapmans      
Redwood Hill Just Friends Bluegrass Band      
Redwood Hill Meridian      
Redwood Hill Fescue      
Ribbon Of Darkness Mac Wiseman      
Ribbon Of Darkness Chris Jones      
Ribbon Of Darkness Bobby Osborne      
Ribbon Of Darkness Cumberland Gap      
Ribbon Of Darkness Lonesome Road      
Same Old Obsession Mike Auldridge      
Shadows Tony Rice      
Sit Down Youg Stranger Country Gentlemen      
Sixteen Miles Tony Rice      
Song For A Winter's Night Tony Rice      
Song For A Winter's Night Sawmill Road      
Song For A Winter's Night Emily Singleton      
Steel Rail Blues Mac Wiseman      
Steel Rail Blues Deannie Richardson      
Summertime Dream Mac Wiseman      
Sundown Mac Wiseman      
Ten Degrees and Getting Colder Tony Rice      
Ten Degrees and Getting Colder J.D. Crowe & The New South      
(That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me Mac Wiseman      
(That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me Kentucky Colonels      
(That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me Flatt & Scruggs      
(That's What You Get) For Lovin' Me J.D. Crowe & The New South      
The House You Live In Mac Wiseman      
Walls Tony Rice      
Whisper My Name Tony Rice      
Whispers Of The North Tony Rice      
Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald Tony Rice      
You Are What I Am Tony Rice      
You Are What I Am J.D. Crowe & The New South