Owen Pallett often mentions his high admiration for Buffy Sainte-Marie. In an article from CBC Music: 100 Best Canadian Songs, Pallett selected Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot” with words by Leonard Cohen.
“The greatest Canadian song, well I mean, I think the greatest song period of all time, is ‘God is Alive, Magic is Afoot’ by Buffy Sainte-Marie and Leonard Cohen as it appears on Buffy’s album, Illuminations, and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken. It’s the best song that’s ever written. It’s kind of like a mission statement from Cohen himself, just underlining his sort of three sides: his Jewish upbringing and his, you know, Buddhist inclinations as an adult, and his sort-of Christian monoculture that kind of binds him all together with Buffy’s own sort of Cree history in this kind of ecstasy in which she performs it, the mantra-like qualities it takes on and added to that is just the innovation of the tape-loop effects — actually I’m not sure if it’s the tape loop or if it’s a Buchla but maybe it’s a combination of both. It’s technically innovative, it fits into both of their oeuvres, so it’s the summit of the mountain. Yeah, there’s really no song that touches that song that I’ve ever come across.”
Here is his live performance of “The Dream Tree,” another song from Illuminations. Like Buffy, Owen Pallett brings breathtaking innovation and intensity to music.
Pallett also performed “The Dream Tree” for Black Cab Sessions.
Go here to view his Black Cab Session and his commentary.