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Cross Canadian Ragweed talks destiny, ‘Alabama’

Cody Canada (center) fronts Cross Canadian Ragweed. One of the Stillwater, OK-based Red Dirt rockers biggest hits is titled simply "Alabama."

It was in the very American trenches of roadhouse honky-tonks and the early, stoner arenas of grunge, that 33-year-old Cody Canada, front man for Stillwater, Okla.-based Americana rockers Cross Canadian Ragweed, had his destiny revealed.

He was meant to rock.

There were two signs.


Little Cody Canada is 5 years old.

He’s at a steak house/bar with his family. There is smoke. There is beer. Little Cody is front row center, a tiny, twangy cherub bathed in a stage light moon. Above him towers this unknown god in a cowboy hat, someone named George Strait. The music starts and little Cody is changed.

“I knew right then this was what I wanted to do,” Canada says. “I realized this guy is standing up there playing music and people love it. He’s having the time of his life and I thought to myself, ‘I want to do that forever.’”


Young Cody Canada is 14 years old.

He’s at a concert, some band called Stone Temple Pilots. It’s his third time to smoke pot and, God help him, the night is magic.

“I hate to associate a life-changing experience with drugs,” Canada says. “But I was moved. I just thought, ‘This is rock and roll and I really dig it.’”

Fast forward to adulthood.

It was in the very American trenches of country music landmarks, a glitz ‘n’ glam awards show, and a Minnesota blizzard that Cody Canada had his destiny confirmed.

He was meant to rock.

There have three signs.

One was before his band scored their record deal.

“We got to play Waylon Jennings’ wake at the Ryman Auditorium,” says Canada, his voice still pinching itself. “It was like, us, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash was supposed to be there, but couldn’t. Emmy Lou Harris. Hank Jr. We were nobodies. We’re still nobodies to those people, but we were a part of that. That was something.”

Another was in 2007 at the Americana Music Awards.

“We finally got recognized as an Americana band rather than a country band. It took 14 years.”

The last was on a Monday night — Monday! In Winter!— in Minneapolis of all places, and the only thing you could see was sleet and snow.

“I was telling people no one would be there, but there were 500 people,” he says. “I realized then that we could do this forever.”


Who: Cross Canadian Ragweed, Mickey and the Motorcars.

Where: SkyBar, 136 E. Magnolia.

When: Thursday, Nov. 5. Show starts at 10:30 p.m.

Info: Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Call 821-4001 for more information.


Cody Canada on the ‘woman’ behind ‘Alabama’

“It’s really not about a woman,” Canada says. “I’m really trying to convince my wife it’s not about a woman. She thinks it’s about this certain girl but it’s not. Me and this friend of mine took off for Nashville one spring break and then decided we’d rather experience Fort Lauderdale.”

Then their car broke down in Alabama.

“We got bored and had a guitar in the car. We said, ‘Lets write a song about Alabama, about a girl from Alabama. So that happened. We spent the night in Dothan and ended up sitting in with a band playing tambourine all night.”

Photo via No Depression.

About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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