Despite iconic status, Niagara Falls turns up in very few modern songs


Published January 11, 2023 at 12:08 pm

Using the Niagara SkyWheel as a backdrop, Canadian songbird Alessia Cara debuted her "Live From Niagara Falls" video in August 2021.

When Canadian songbird Alessia Cara debuted her “Live From Niagara Falls” video in August 2021, it gave a much-needed boost to the struggling tourist town during the peak of pandemic restrictions.

For the 2018 Best New Artist Grammy winner, the performance could be done with a series of live performances at iconic locations within Niagara Falls – all without inconveniencing any number of tourists – allowing herself and the production team to roam about freely.

While the young singer’s performance was stellar with two songs “Sweet Dream” and “Shapeshifter” being featured live on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” late night show, Niagara Falls served as a scenic back-drop to the music but perhaps a little surprisingly not actually surfacing in any of her lyrics.

Though she did reminisce about coming to Niagara Falls as a youth, again, there was no mention of the iconic falls in her songs.

That leads to the question: how many modern-era songs from, say, the past 50 or 60 years have mentioned Niagara Falls in their lyrics?

An extensive Google search has turned up surprisingly few, which seems odd. After all, the great landmarks of the world have often served as an inspiration for artists, painters, photographers and song-writers alike.

Niagara Falls is such a landmark; a focal point for people with creative leanings, serving as a source of symbolism and imagination that one would think it turns up in many, given its natural beauty which lends to evocative imagery and substantive meanings.

Before searching too deeply, the term “waterfalls” shows up in literally dozens of modern-era songs. Think of TLC’s hit “Waterfalls” with its lyric, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls; Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to…” There are many, many more using the term freely.

But Niagara Falls specifically? That’s where the search gets a little trickier.

Detroit-born singer and songwriter Sufjan Stevens didn’t hesitate in his 2003 song “Niagara Falls” with the lyrics, “From the top of the mountain; You could see; Lake Erie; Niagara Falls…”

Chicago, the commercially-huge pop-ballad powerhouse band from the 1970s-1980s, also has a song entitled “Niagara Falls” where it compares to permanence of the natural wonder to the concept of love.

Sang the group in 1986: “As long as Niagara Falls; Until the end of time; Till hell freezes over; You are forever mine…”

American country singer Sara Evans had a song on her 2003 album “Restless” called “Niagara” that skirted around naming the falls directly but instead uses it in clever wordplay that leaves little doubt about the subject matter when she sings, “Asking me not to love you is like asking Niagara not to fall.”

In 1994, well-known Canadian band The Rheostatics wrote the song “Claire” and in an appeal to drop the guards around herself, asked the song’s subject to “Liquify these walls. Let me see them gushin’ like Niagara Falls.”

Superstar songstress Barbra Streisand released an album in 1979 called “Wet” where every single song was related to water in some manner. In her song “Niagara” clearly given the theme, she was referring to the falls but again danced around naming them specifically with lines like: “But in Niagara, you promised me the moon…” “But in Niagara, you took me by surprise…” and “Up in Niagara, we were crazy then…”

Since it’s doubtful Streisand is familiar with Niagara Region specifically and given the album’s water-soaked theme, she’s pretty clearly talking about the natural wonder.

However, many songs give the location a passing mention, such as rockabilly band Stray Cats song “Rockin All Over The Place” which has the line “From Hollywood to Niagara Falls”. Or punkers The Dead Kennedys whose song “Jock-O-Rama” has a repeating lyric “The future of America is in their hands; Watch it roll over Niagara Falls.”

However, it’s tough to find any others even with the most extensive of lyrical searches.

With that in mind, let’s finish with a classic The Three Stooges bit where Moe discovers his wife had run away with Larry and he finally tracks them down in Niagara Falls. Due to the offence, the mere mention of “Niagara Falls” drives him into a frenzy.

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