Sunday, April 15, 2012

Music, Lyrics and True North

I've wanted to add a music section to my blog for sometime. I am, after-all, a graduate from Radio Broadcasting at Loyalist College, one of the top radio programs in the country, and music has always been a large part of my life.
Some of my main writing influences were/are lyricists, such as Leonard Cohan, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Eddie Vedder, Joni Mitchell, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Roger Waters, Andy Prieboy, Stan Ridgway, Black Francis, the list is too long and is constantly being added to. The spirit of the music, with bands like the Pixies and Iggy Pop, that freedom and self-expression, even the Andy Warhol and The Factory with the Velvet Underground where Lou Reed had to write a certain number of songs per dayyou take care of the quantity and the quality will comeit's work, don't forget it, has had great influence on how I approach writing, or anything creative: more emotionally raw than delicately refined. And that do it for love, even if they hate you, has, along with my faith, helped keep me going. Music has been my sin and my salvation.

However, I couldn't find a bridge from the books to the music that I felt comfortable taking. Then when redoing the blog, and considering it yet again, the Prince Edward Country Authors Festival, that I was a presenter at a couple years back, brought in Bernie Finkelstein for the launch of his new book, "True North: A Life Inside The Music Business". Bernie Finkelstein is the founder of  True North Records and has worked with the likes of Bruce Cockburn, Dan Hill, The Rheostatics, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings ect. He's done a great deal for Canadian Music, and considering how Canadians in the position to support fellow Canadians often do the opposite it makes it all the more admirable.
So here it is, the beginning of a music section, starting with 3 bands that Mr. Finkelstein, who kindly autographed his book for me and told me how much he admired writers, has worked with.
First, Bruce Cockburn, who Bernie stills manages. The song I picked is Peggy's Kitchen Wall because I listened to it over and over again, on vinyl, when I was a wee lad, trying to figure out who it was that put that bullet hole in Peggy's kitchen wall. And why?

Second is The Rheostatics. The song I chose is Clair, a song that was in the great Canadian film, Whale Music. I choose it because I love the song and had a very enjoyable night at the Horseshoe Taven, in Toronto, at their show. And, the lyrics: "Purify me, purify me Claire, let me see you save a mind that isn't there . . . Liquify me, liquify these walls, let me see them gushing like Niagara falls . . . vapourize me . . .  Let me see you save a soul that is impaired . . . Clarify me, Claire."

Finally, Junkhouse, which Bernie didn't work with (as far as I know) but he did work with Tom Wilson in Blackie and the Rodeo Kings; Tom Wilson's first band was Junkhouse, who had a song on the second Due South soundtrack, which was a Canadian TV program that I very much enjoyed, though I got to see more of it in Belfast, on the BBC, than I did at home in Canada. This isn't the song from the soundtrack, mind you, nor is it the first song I heard from Junkhouse, back when I was in that Radio Broadcasting course I was talking about eariler. It is non the less, on of my favourites. It's only a matter of time before we all shine . . .

They're all examples of great Canadian music. Actually, it's great music song full stop. One of the wonderful things about Canadian Music, is that for it to be Canadian Music it has to be music that has been created by a Canadian or Canadians as the case may be. I've been informed that the same can't be said for film and literature where Canadian is seen more of as a genre than a people. Enjoy.

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