Dying to Have a Good Time
When I was nineteen, I dropped out of school and spent my last eleven dollars on a one-way train ticket to Guelph, Ontario, determined to work in, and learn, about the music business. A couple of nights later I was sweeping the floor at a coffeehouse called The Factory, while a big crowd of college kids was grumping and groaning, waiting for the star performer, Big Mama Thornton, to show up '' she was well over an hour late '' it was a frosty November night, and the uninsulated (insulation ... what's that?) window that I was looking out of, was all steamed up, so I doodled on it, this big round circle face, and wrote, above the face, something like, "Big Mama is one big mother..." when I felt this vice-like grip on my shoulder. "She's whaaattt?" I turned around and there she was, just like Ed Sullivan used to say, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the star of our show, the lovely and talented ... BIG MAMA THORNTON!" Only she was short, built like a barrel, and royally pissed off at me. So while my one good hand was furiously wiping the window clean, I learned my first lesson in the music business: folks hardly ever like hearing the truth, unless it's in a song. Since I hadn't written any songs yet, I just gave Big Mama a big hug and a bigger smile, and before she could say a word, I yelled out at the crowd, like Ed, only louder, "She's here, she's here! Big Mama's here!" The crowd erupted in applause and started to swarm her, but not before she gave me a glare and one more hurting squeeze on my shoulder, for good luck I guess. The show was great. Big Mama played every instrument in the band. The crowd loved her. She loved them. Then, long after she disappeared into the night, I swept up the floor, thinking, I love this business, but if I got to â€-bee-ess' just to get by, then I better get busy writing me some songs instead. Now it's thirty five years further on down the line '' still riding on that one-way ticket '' a few albums and a few hundred songs later '' and for all of those high-and-mighty reasons I've given, for why I keep playing and writing and recording, it basically comes back to that first lesson '' and because, just like songwriting, the more you "bee-ess," the better you get at doing it. This new album, Dying To Have A Good Time, took a few years to complete, partly cause of geography (I live in Ottawa while the rest of the band lives in Toronto), and partly cause it's way more fun making an album, than completing it. Sometimes, when I listen to it, I twist between thinking, "this sounds too simple, where's the angst," and," omigod '' this is so honest and touching." But the truth is, I'm fifty-five and happy. So, â€-honest and touching' is what you get. I like all the songs. At one point in time, or another, I probably thought that each one of them, was the best thing ever written; but after fussing and finicking and listening and re-listening hundreds of times, I've come to moderate that assessment a little. If you love the songs beyond belief, I'll be very happy, but for me, I'm just relieved - I can finally â€-listen' to them, without trying to â€-fix' them.
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