Can music define a country? I frequently ask myself that question after returning home to Canada from my latest trip to Israel. I will have purchased an assortment of the latest CD’s on offer there, but can only play them upon returning home.

It is self evident that tastes in music can vary from one individual to another and across generations, but could there be themes or styles which inherently speak to people about a country.

Certainly each country’s national anthem comes to mind, but perhaps the pride it instills comes more from the repetitive inculcation since one’s birth than any reasoned comprehension.

Do visitors to a country come away with a taste in music that differs markedly from that of the country’s inhabitants ?

In my own case Canada is defined and conjured up in the following three songs; ‘ Four Strong Winds ‘, ‘ The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald ‘ and ‘ Mon pays c’est l’hiver ‘. A sense of expansiveness, natural disasters and climate might be the thematic take-away. But would visitors agree ?

Similarly Israel is defined for me by ‘Yerushalayim shel Zahav ‘, ‘ Ilu Tziporim ‘ and ‘ Erev Bah ‘ . Once again upon hearing any of the above three songs and I mentally drift back to my second home. But would residents of Israel agree to be so defined as by what they might see as lyrical fantasies ?

Record producers and moguls in the music industry would never agree to such a facile approach, but might the general population nod their heads in silent agreement ?