March 27, 2015 - It's Not Me

I am now stuck in a bit of a waiting game - big plans and limited resources.  Being away from Canada and performing for the past 7 years has meant that I need to work hard at establishing myself as a performer once again.  This has involved building a social media presence (this site, FaceBook, and Twitter), applying for arts grants and funding, engaging in workshops and consultations for professional development (thanks especially to Alberta Music for providing opportunities to do this), and trying to book and play as many shows as possible.  

All that work is quite time consuming and I am lucky to be in a position at the moment where I can dedicate a fair bit of time to this.  Getting shows booked is proving to be pretty tough - when I did this several years ago, I generally needed to book things at least 3 months in advance, these days it seems that at least 6 months notice is needed.  As you can imagine, this takes a fair bit of forward planning, promotional acumen, and business sense; all skills that don't come easy to me.  I am of course hardly alone in this position - many artists find it difficult to market and promote themselves and to approach their art with a business head and because of this they will often will seek out a manger to take care of these things for them.  This has always been my mindset - I'm no good at it, so I try to find someone who is good at it rather than working on building the skills I need myself. The problem with this approach is that once you hand over the management of your affairs to another person, that person is going to serve their own purpose and vision rather than yours (quite naturally).  I've always liked what Steve Albini has to say on these matters - I particularly like the video I have linked his name to here, but I would recommend you seek out his other online interviews and addresses.

Presently I have some shows booked locally (Edmonton) for June and beyond and have some other irons in the fire - WATCH THIS SPACE. I also continue to work towards completing and releasing another recording - I have already detailed much of this process in previous blogs on this site. I am hopeful that this work will result in a full album release in the fall of 2015 - so far that all seems to be on track.

The new song I will introduce you to today is appropriate, in title at least, for what I have been rattling on about above; 

It's Not Me

it’s not me
drifting next to a cruise ship’s bulk
that plows through sand as though afloat
but I do have a cyclopean view
of the party where I first lost you
and I see
party hats, elastics slack
whirl with the wide-eyed blue band
the ocean’s sway will lead the way
to where the dancers swing with the chandeliers
their feet more free than in dance
hangs at odd angles but never so graceful
than from necks that are swollen with breath
the ocean’s sway will lead the way
to where the dancers swing with the chandeliers
their feet more free than in dance
it’s not me

The progression, vocal melody, and singing approach in this song are all very heavily influenced by the work of Scott Engel (Walker) in the mid-60's through until he 'disappeared' in the mid-70's.  I have always admired Scott Walker's work; from his early days in the Walker Brothers, through to his love affair with Europe, (particularly his interpretations of Jacques Brel), and up to the brilliant one of a kind recordings he has done from the mid-90s onwards. My admiration of this artist is not only based on his artistic vision (musically and lyrically) and his determined approach to realising this vision (a good read - Scott: The Curious Life & Work Of Scott Walker) but also on his vocal style.  Like Scott, I am a crooner and this approach to singing has not always endeared me to what many folks consider appropriate for contemporary popular music.  Despite this, my voice is my voice and I will stay true to it.  Mr. Engel is a great role model for staying true to yourself.

The lyrics for this song were once again cannibalised from a poem I had written years earlier entitled, Fragment From A Dream In Which I Murder Some Brides. This poem was written after being haunted for years by a dream I had near the end of my first marriage.  I had married quite young to my high school sweetheart (dating at 16, engaged at 19, married at 21, and divorced at 23).  My wife was an extremely sweet person who was wholly dedicated to me and our marriage; I unfortunately was not. Much had changed for me between the ages of 16 and 23.  I went from being a small town farm boy whose interests and goals were mostly materialistic and self-promoting in nature, to becoming a city dwelling university student who was utterly captivated by the Politic Economies of Karl Marx and his followers.  This impacted my priorities drastically and unfortunately, my now ex-wife was not along for the journey and this led to us growing apart despite her continued dedication to me.  Rather than address our growing apart directly, I started to become less engaged in our life together and behaved in ways that I will forever be ashamed of.  

Sometime near the end of my marriage I had a dream where I had the perspective of an omnipresent narrator looking into the porthole of a sunken cruise ship.  Inside I saw the scene of a formal dance where everyone in attendance (dancers, musicians, waiters) were drowned and floating around a grand ballroom.  Next in the dream, my perspective suddenly shifted to a long door-lined hallway that I somehow knew was also within the sunken ship.  When a door in this hall was opened, a bride sitting in front of a vanity turned towards the open door, would suddenly look horrified, and scream before she was shot - blood bursting from her white wedding dress. This scene repeated 3 times before the fourth bride did not look horrified nor scream but turned to attack the person standing at the opened door. I then heard sinister laughter while this bride too fell to the same fate as the others.  It was only during this laughter that I realised that the perspective I was experiencing was not that of an omnipresent narrator but that of my own and the horror of this realisation woke me.  Within days of having this dream, I confessed to my wife how distant I had grown from our marriage and asked for a divorce.

Fragment From A Dream In Which I Murder Some Brides

it’s not me
drifting next to a cruise ship’s bulk
that ploughs through sand as though afloat
but I do have a cyclopean view
of the party within
paper hats, elastics slack
whirl about with a wide-eyed
blue trumpet player
the ocean’s sway his tune
dancers swing on chandeliers of melody
their hair more free than in dance
bubble-bright pearls
hang at eternally odd angles
from a neck
never so graceful in breath

Stay tuned to this blog for yet more happy tales that inspired the songs on my upcoming recording.

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