Monday, 14 November 2011


a while back i wrote
'to a teenage boy - townsend was like shakespeare
i believe that more and more with each passing day

i'm in the midst of preparing my oldest son for high school
when i say prepare
my method is to stand back and let him decide things for himself
quiet guidance and a steady hand when merited
he's into social justice and art
but quick to point out that fine art bores him
i like that he's come to that decision
it bores me too
i know i'm supposed to like it
but it doesn't move me
or astound me
andy warhol?
he gets me going

shakespeare bores me too
i read it thoroughly in high school
i can quote lines
but i like it a page at a time
i randomly read a passage here and there
i get enough juice without having to peel the entire fruit
keats yeats frost
read a lot of them
retained very little
years ago i would bullshit that i knew more about them than i did
it was some sort of inferiority complex
as if admitting that they bored me was an admission of idiocy
i haven't done that in quite a while

i'm proud of having raised myself on rock 'n' roll

to a teenage boy - townsend was better than shakespeare

what is now classic rock
was originally an intensive study of art culture and oneself

dark side of the moon taught me more
than anything i learned in high school
or college

having a cassette of houses of the holy
was more defining than any study group

and won't get fooled again was a battle cry

'to be or not to be?'
i've read that passage thirty times
and still get nothing from it

'run rabbit run - dig that hole - forget the sun'
that one stuck
and i quote it all the time
especially when i'm in traffic

'the sunshine bores the daylights out of me'
i lived that for twenty years
then i had kids

'when you got nothing - you got nothing to lose'
i've spent entire afternoons wondering what bob was up to when he wrote that
it was like a private exploration of a master

i feel curious when i listen to dylan

'i had a cup of tea and a butterpie'
this is a magic show
and kids love it
did mcCartney write a children's book?
his songs are the sound of school bells

'not a word i heard could i relate'
i say that one all the time
i mutter it to myself when discussing politics with people
who's dialogue becomes monologue

'history recalls how great the fall can be'
nothing on cbc or cnn comes close to this
it's perfect

'i'm getting older too'
that one makes me look up from the soundboard
sometimes i think mia is singing it just for me
and for a second i feel so deeply connected to her
and everyone in the theatre
and i want to send stevie nicks wilted roses

and this past weekend
we did let it be
and i heard a line i've heard a million times
but it found me and my knees got weak
'limitless undying love'
he means the most to me
people know me as a stones fanatic
and a dylan head
but john speaks to the secret heart soaring
and confirms that my decisions
be them right or wrong
are an essential part of the trip

rock is rock
and we carry it with us
through every doorway
across every field
we turn our children from pebbles to stone
we imagine with it
play within it
and we find our voice alongside it
we gather under it
and we remember through it

and when we need a change
when we need to accept some new turn of events
when we feel challenged to explain ourselves to un-understanding people
we roll

'rock is my life - and this is my song'

november 14, 2011

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Last Waltz

when i first saw the last waltz
i never dreamed i'd be recreating on stage
at the time it was just a cool movie

nothing much happened during the 70s
at least not in my neck of the woods
the hype and hard sell was not yet part of the culture
it was more about hanging out
and seeing what tomorrow brings

my friends back yard backed onto the drive in theatre
that featured the last waltz
we had a side view of the screen
but a full sound from the movie
we spent a couple weekends just hanging out
and listening to the last waltz erupt from those drive in speakers
that you clipped to your window
i don't remember the sound being terrible
in fact i don't remember any bad sounding stereo's back then
music sounded good
high fidelity didn't hit us until the early eighties

i remember thinking 'what's the big deal?'
i wasseventeen
it would still take a couple of years for his music to move me
when it did
it was like being blind sided by a mountain

neil young
is there anybody better?
we were blown away that he said the word 'ontario' in a song

joni mitchell
it's like she never learned anything in school
and set out alone to become her own woman
what other woman came out of the 60s and survived with her credibility in tact?
grace slick?
she build a city on rock n' roll and it crumbled
janis died
but joni flourished
and still does

neil diamond
what's he doing on the last waltz
there's all kinds of google info about it
i used to hate his song
but now i love it
we have a james taylor singing it (not that james taylor the other one - the toronto one)
he captures the drama of the song
it's a fun part of the night
you'll leave singing this song

ronnie hawkins
he could probably still beat me in an arm wrestle
i think that time on the road with him would have been something
you'd have a tattoo by the end of it
and a tingling that you'd have to see a doctor for
i'm glad the band got him involved with the show

van morrison
i heard this crazy story about van the man
supposedly he came out on stage one night
and instead of singing
he reorganized the band
and made them move their amps
he's got a strange reputation for being a tad cantankerous
we're only going to be concentrating on the power of his voice
we have murray james bosch covering it
i told murray that after the show
he can pick a fight with anyone he likes

paul butterfield
i have a couple of his albums
they're pretty good
i've only ever listened to them once
but jerome godboo is performing this piece
and jerome brings the house down
in fact everything jerome does is astounding
i understand that his neighbours give him standing ovations
just for making toast

emmy lou harris
she's so sweet
her song is so country and happy
leslea has it down
it makes us all happy at rehearsal
we'll be locked up in the hall
running songs
getting lethargic
then we do the emmy song
and we're all pepped up again
it's like red bull for your ears

mavis and pops staples
what a sound
one of my favourite parts of the movie
every bar band in the world does a version of the weight
but when mavis and pops sing it
it's like you hear the song again for the first time

muddy waters
he got the band fired up
they were all freaking out that he was there
mannish boy is a defining song for me
play it at my funeral
we have john mays from the acclaimed toronto blues band fathead
he's going to be delivering the cock a roo on this one
i can't wait for this part of the show

eric clapton
great scene in the movie where his strap falls off
i get the guys to do it real quick
no one ever notices
clifton will be performing further on up the road

dr. john
what a voice
what a player
he sinks into the groove like a levy
he sounds like a swamp
and his song casts a velvet vibe over the entire evening
i saw him play in north ontario a bunch of years back
he was amazing
and he was really old then
i love that he's still on the road
still playing
heading for another joint

and the band
even levon is canadian from all the osmosis
it was  a time that everyone was wearing kimonos and listening to soft rock
but the band were in checkered shirts
and pounding out song after song
no image
no carrot dangling
any trend was on the other side of the road
moving in another direction
the band just wrote and recorded songs
they were driven but not too driven
they got out on top
i would have liked to see robbie join them
at the dylan bobfest 30 year thing
i think there was some bad blood
that's not canadian

two of the original band members have passed
you look at them in the movie
they're in the prime of their life
on stage with the masters
pounding out rock and r and b and folk and country
what a night

we're going to perform the album
with all the proper respect in tact
it's massey hall
i think something special will happen this night
something historical
we're the right group to do it

funny story
when we were getting ready to book this season at massey all
jesse - the director of programming at massey got in touch
and we went through the open dates
it was fairly random
but i suggested doing the last waltz
then we looked at dates
and i suggested november 25
i didn't realize at the time that november 25th
is the exact 35 anniversary of the evening
then i pulled a horseshoe out of my ass

35 years ago
it seems like it was yesterday
the last waltz stays with all of us
as i've said before
it's the sound of the hippies getting together
and saying goodbye
thanks for the trip

november 2, 2011