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”.