The Log Driver’s Waltz

girl rat standing on shore looking at a log-driving rat

And the award for Catchiest Tune Ever goes to . . .

Birling down, a-down white water,
That’s how the log driver learns to step lightly

et cetera. Just ask the nearest passing Canadian.

That’s “birl”, verb, not to be confused with “burl”, a sort of tumor that creates pretty wood but probably isn’t much fun for the tree in life. As far as I know, linguists have not isolated a b[V]rl phonestheme representing “round thing having to do with timber”.

At the time I made this page, the animated version of the Log Driver’s Waltz was front and center at the National Film Board of Canada as their Most Popular Film Ever. It’s now buried a little more deeply, but it will never disappear altogether. If you prefer your videos with advertising, there’s always YouTube.

Just don’t listen too closely to the lyrics. Otherwise you’ll find yourself asking questions like, Just how many speakers are there in the song? (Looking only at the verses and ignoring the chorus, you can count either two or three.) Or you might wonder rhetorically whether skill as a dancer really is the most solid foundation for a marriage. And finally—in the film—isn’t somebody going to fish that poor priest out of the river?

No, I don’t know why the animator transformed the log driver’s hooked pole (hook facing downward) into something more nearly resembling a harpoon (hook facing upward) halfway through verse 3. Call it artistic license. But the look on the moose’s face is not to be missed.