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Covered Classics: “Play Me a Rock and Roll Song” by Justin Rutledge


The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) is pleased to announce the induction of 1970’s folk classic Play Me a Rock and Roll Song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Valdy.  Juno Award winner Justin Rutledge pays tribute to the legendary song via the CSHF’s Covered Classics series.

Play Me a Rock and Roll Song
Written by Valdy
Performed by Justin Rutledge, accompanied by Steve O’Connor on piano,
Dean Drouillard on guitar, Sly Juhas on drums and Bazil Donovan on bass

One of Canada’s premier folk artists, Valdy had an improbable hit with Play Me a Rock and Roll Song which recounts his experience playing at the Aldergrove Rock Festival in 1968, where the 25,000-strong rock-loving audience jeered his folk offerings.

Valdy responded by writing an inspired hit rock song about the gig, featuring an ungrammatical double-negative chorus (“Play me a rock and roll song / Or don’t play me no song at all”) that underlines the frustration of both audience and singer.

In 2012, Valdy told an interviewer, “I was hired as a folk singer to go and play at a rock festival. I was out of place and … I got the reception I deserved, let’s put it that way.  They wanted rock, they gave me a hard time about it, and I got a great song out of it.”

Play Me a Rock and Roll Song features an ironic driving rock-waltz setting, contrasting effectively with lyrics in which the gentle folksinger pleads with his unruly audience.

The single featured on RPM’s top singles chart for Canada through August to late December 1972, peaking on December 2 at No. 17 and spending an impressive 12 weeks in the Top 40. The song also earned Valdy a SOCAN Classics Award in 1999, for 25,000 radio plays. Learn more about the song here.

Justin Rutledge is a Juno Award winning singer-songwriter from Toronto. Between his debut, No Never Alone (2005), his sophomore release, The Devil On A Bench In Stanley Park (2006) and his albums, Man Descending (2008) and The Early widows (2010), Rutledge has earned three Juno nominations, a Galaxy Rising Star award, countless year-end critics’ picks, the title of Toronto’s Best Local Songwriter (NOW Magazine), a spot on the 2008 and 2010 Polaris Prize Long List, and a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination. On the heels of his Juno Award-winning album Valleyheart (2013), Justin released his sixth studio album Daredevil in 2014. Daredevil, Justin’s interpretation of the hits and deep cuts of the Tragically Hip, is an ode to the iconic Canadian band and, like his other albums, has garnered impressive amounts of critical acclaim.

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