Spring Forward

I seem to be coming out of my ... I seem to be coming out of my winter!

Thanks, in part, to Twyla Tharp, who I hopefully will discuss in a later post.

Connor has posted two amazing new demos ("Be the One" - with his amazing new band, and "Brother's and Sisters" - on his own in the studio) here at his MySpace page. He's finishing up a third demo, "Give it a Name", right now. I can hear him mixing it upstairs. I went to see him at the Media Club in Vancouver last night *playing drums!!* with his good buddy Dylan Hossack. Turns out he's a great drummer too!

I'm now a Twitterer.

For adventurous movie fans I recommend the totally ridiculous, over the top, goofily romantic and completely unforgettable Pola X.

The Cell Phone Girl & Barack Obama’s Prayer

I have been trying to find a good reason to write here again, but after rustling through the dry and withered collection of used-up motivations, I have been unable to find or create even one new one. The thrill of publishing online was effectively vaporized by the thrill of traditional analog publishing. The challenge of documenting the interesting bits of my life was also met when my book was completed. The ever-present call to creativity can be as easily answered off-line, and every intelligent bone in my body tells me if I do write something, it should rhyme.

Two events from today inform this post - if only in the very most oblique way.

I was in the hotel restaurant, here in Bathurst, New Brunswick, waiting for my all-day breakfast when an attractive girl, talking and laughing into her cell phone, and an equally attractive guy appeared at the entrance. The girl continued her casual phone conversation as they were led to their table. She was still talking as their menus were delivered. Her male friend stared into space. At about the point in time when I would have expected him to snatch the phone from her hand and throw it across the room, she laughed charmingly and said to the person on the other end of the call:

“So … how are you?”

A few minutes later - still on the phone - she reached over and stroked her restaurant friend on the cheek and pouted, as if to remind him that she required his attention as well.

After breakfast and back in my room, I read a story online about the prayer that Barack Obama had left in the Western Wall in Jerusalem - one of the holiest locations in Judaism - this morning.

Notes containing prayers are left, by people from all over the world, in the cracks of the wall, and are usually collected and buried at another sacred site. Obama’s note had been removed and given to the press.

The rabbi in charge of the Western Wall was angry.

“The notes placed between the stones of the Western Wall are between a person and his maker. It is forbidden to read them or make any use of them,” the rabbi said.

Obama’s appropriated private prayer (which by now is all over the internet, if you want to read it) asks the Lord to help him guard against pride and despair. It’s a very succinct, simple, eloquent and beautiful prayer. Between a man and his maker.

It was after reading it that I was moved to finally write about why I can’t seem to write.

Connor’s Album

My son Connor has recorded his first album. It’s full of power, grace, poetry, honesty, and passionately performed music and singing. He wrote every note, every word. He created all the arrangements, played all the instruments (except the Cello, Viola and two violins on two of the songs), sang all the harmonies and wrote a large part of two string quartet arrangements. I helped him make the record, and so did Debbie. But, short of expressing our opinions when he asked us for them, we had nothing to do with the creation of his amazing songs.

I was nervous about the project from the moment we began talking about it. I wanted to help Connor make the record but I was conflicted. We work really well together and I’ve had a lot of experience with producing recording sessions - budgeting time, tending the vibe and generally keeping things running smoothly - and I could provide many of the services of a producer without the expense. But, I was concerned that my involvement might hurt as much as help.

A few years ago at a friend’s wedding, a drunk musician cornered Connor and belligerently chastised him for, essentially, being my son. He was angry that Connor had been given what he saw as an unfair, and undeserved, advantage in the music business. Connor was hurt and confused by the encounter, but I recognized a variation on a theme I had experienced when Trooper’s first album came out. Despite the fact that Randy Bachman, the guitar player from the Guess Who and BTO, had chosen to produce our band because of the quality of our songs and performances - we were often branded as his pet project and accused, repeatedly, of riding his creative coat-tails. Some people (including Randy in later years) even insinuated that Bachman had taught us how to write the hit songs we were performing when he first heard us.

Living in someone’s shadow diminishes the already minimal rewards of success. In Trooper’s case, our initial breakthroughs were seen by some as unearned. I didn’t like that, and didn’t want it to happen to my son.

Connor, Debbie and I talked it out. We agreed that I should help with the production of the record. Although I wanted to co-produce without credit, Connor insisted that my name be used in order to acknowledge the time and energy I had contributed.

While I was away, Connor and Debbie spent weeks preparing an application to “FACTOR” - the Foundation to Assist Canadian Artists On Record - an organization that awards talented songwriters and performers a sizable loan to help with recording costs. After months of waiting Connor was turned down. Although he received the highest marks for all categories related to the songs and their performances, they were apparently unimpressed with his “marketing plan”. So Connor took a loan.

My good friend, and award-winning engineer, Pat Glover signed on as part of the studio team. We recorded all the music, including the string quartet, at Whitewater Studio. We recorded all the vocals at home. We worked hard and conscientiously and had a great time making great music. We started in April and are days away from finished. There are two songs that Connor wants to re-mix and he’s been listening to them over and over in our upstairs music room that he wants to call “Liberty Studio”.