Blog

Starting Over

Hi y’all — I feel like giving all of you a hug right now and this song is probably the closest I can get…

Starting Over

It’s so easy to cling to your tired old notions.
As you bob on a ring, out in an ocean—
That’s full of the proof, that you were wrong all along—
And when you start to sink, and when it’s all gone—
Don’t be afraid, it’s not the end,
You’re just starting over…


You tie a small string, to everything
So you can reel it back in, you won’t lose it again…
But it still gets away, because nothing is real—
It’s just what we’ve, agreed to believe…
Don’t be afraid, it’s not the end
You’re just staring over…

The Time Machine — home recorded Kid’s Music for fun

So over the course of the last several years I wrote a few kid’s songs and I’ve decided to release them here in ‘demo’ form (for fun) because I can’t seem to get around to finishing them… and, honestly, the quirky demos have kinda grown on me over time.

Maybe your kids will enjoy them as much as mine does… 🙂 Hearts and love to all…

#1 all time greatest hit?

Having tunes out in the world doing their own thing is a strange feeling…

Thanks to the wonders of the digital age, from time to time I am able to check in on what is happening with all of these little nuggets of myself (aka “songs”) I’ve sent out into the world. Must admit that it turns out that I’m not a great predictor of… well… anything? Some songs I felt would be well loved and travel far have run out of steam a few inches out of the gate… and some songs I thought were a silly, tossed-out ‘just for fun’ tunes have become cornerstones of my catalogue… (Jerry the Christmas Robot anyone?)

To be fair there are definitely not any crowds clamoring for my next utterance, these are just observations based on my extremely limited trickle of analytic digital feedback statistics…

And to be clear, I am incredibly grateful for every listen that every single person gives me… Music… songwriting specifically, is my passion; every time someone out there encourages me to spend another second on it by listening to any one my songs to the end, I am deeply heartened, it is as if you are giving me permission to keep doing it. So thank you.

Anyway, I thought I’d dash off a note today because of something specific I have noticed and am admittedly touched and surprised by… the enduring and consistent listens given to “Late Fight” the second track on Unseasonably Cool, my second album with The Burning Sensations, my big fun group of best pals that recorded a couple of albums with me a few years ago…

My appreciation for this song in particular still having a little traction after all this time is doubly rewarding because it is not a ‘tossed-off’ quickie like some others that have done ok for me over the years; it is decidedly not silly, it wasn’t easy to write, and I am very proud of the lyrics, and the story is from a deep and honest place… (must mention that I am also still consistently knocked out by the band’s over the top performances and by Ben Mullin and Brad Turcotte’s excellent production…)

I often tell the story on stage of this song’s origin… and I thought maybe I would share it here in print in recognition of it’s enduring (if modest) “success”…

The story really begins at the end of my first marriage… My wife and I lived during our year together in a small house on the back half of her grandparent’s ranch property along a bit of highway frontage not far from the college in my home town. The home had been built when they bought the ranch, long before our time there, and was a firm, solid structure, if small and easy to outgrow. It had been their ‘starter home’ and now it was ours. We carved a lot out of the corner of the pasture with cedar posts and wire fencing for our dogs…

We felt we had it all, a mow-able lawn, a porch, a comfortable home with wide plank wooden floors and a gravel driveway… There were some fruit trees and the horses would wander over from the barn from time to time seeking the windfall…

But we didn’t. We were young… troubled… and, ultimately, probably just simply mistaken. We married because it felt like the next logical move, and when the reality set in, it was probably not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’.

We did not make it easy on ourselves… We had the kinds of fights that stretched out over days and weeks, and I must confess that we were not kind to each other. There was anger and bitterness. We were not good at this.

In time it became clear to me that she had taken up criticism as a primary pastime, so I responded in kind by taking up lying. At the time, it seemed like a path of least resistance, I was presenting her with the facsimile of the person she seemed to want me to be… but in hindsight, it (my lying) became the singular problem that could not be overcome…

And so we split up. I was angry, I was sad, but mostly, if I’m honest? I was relieved. We parted paths and I went ahead and took along a couple of handfuls of that anger and the sadness with me for a long time after that… They were like padding under my armor… the first layer of numbness between me and the world to come.

It took a couple more tries but eventually, I think, I got the relationship thing figured out a little better, left my hometown, moved away…

And then, many years on, as one does when a bit older, I came home for visit. During that visit, on a drive to another place, I took a route that seemed familiar and after a bit, I realized that it was our old road… The frontage… the stretch of road where we had set up house…

By the time I realized where I was I had passed the address and on whim I turned back. It was an impulse, natural I guess, to see how the old house had held up… I felt I must have missed it because I couldn’t find it on the second pass… So I stopped where my body told me too. Where the house was.

And it was there… somewhere… back in the woods. Some number of decades had passed, and by my reckoning, I was the first visitor to the spot since we had moved out. Trees growing up through the gravel, through the house… a dense wood and the outline of a house in it’s midst.

As I tell my audiences, once I saw that I realized that if I could not find a song in that scene, then I should probably hang up my songwriting hat for good…

But I did not find it right away, that came later. It came after a phone call… Not with her but with another estranged love… Songs sometimes take a winding path… It came after self examination, self honesty, and after a little bit of forgiveness. It is difficult to remove the padding and keep on the armor… So it came after a little bit of vulnerability and exposure to the elements as well.

And a bit more came after a walk under the trees in the fall one day, when I was shocked into open, vulnerable consciousness by the beauty of the leaves in their full plumage, moments before they fell to the ground, soon to fade away forever. Beauty, loss… that old saw.

And finally it came in full when someone told me to write it. All those pieces must have kicked around for months before Lynn Miles popped into the CBC studio one day and challenged local songwriters to run with lyric scrap “the desperation of a late night phone call…” that scrap of hers became the thread that could finish sewing the quilt of the song into a piece, and I finally finished it in full the next day (thanks Lynn!)

I look at my ‘stats’ every week or two for Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp, and this song seems to have a life of its own. I’m not sure who picked it up or why but every time I check, it is out there being played somewhere, a few times per day, per week… It adds up over time. Over time it has become my personal “all time #1 greatest hit” (he said with a wink)…. I like to think that it’s because of the story… the universal nature of it’s message about love, loss, mourning and acceptance… And I’m also pretty sure the ripping guitar solo plays a pretty important role as well (thanks Ben!)

But either way, I am incredibly grateful you folks are out there and that you are still listening. Every single time you do…

Re-united and it feels so… Burning? ;-)

Thought folks following the blog would appreciate a couple of pics from the Burning Sensations impromptu ‘reunion’ last Sunday in Kemptville… Sure it was only 6 of the possible 8… 9… 14…(?) members, but it was the first time so many of us played together in a couple of years anyway… It was a joy to take the old truck out for a spin, warm up the tires, blow out the injectors and see how it felt at the wheel. I can’t speak for everyone; but I loved it!

Big thanks to Mark Ettinger, Jay Williams, Doug Hendry, Tom Graham, and Shawn Yakimovich for a big new addition to the Burning Sensations memory file… (Also enjoyed some musical participation from Katie Nolan/Heroic Mad Peasants, Greg Kelly, Mary Moore, Peter Johnson, Herb Cloutier, Anne Lyon and Gord Hartley… All in all, a pretty darn fun and cool afternoon…)

Doug, me, Shawn, Mark, Jay
Tom (slacking off… 😉 ) Doug, me, Shawn, Mark, Jay’s hand…
Gord, Anne, me…
Katie and Shawn!
Anne watching the ‘Madness’ 😉

Great fun… Must admit that I’m seriously considering changing the band name to “We Should Really Do This More Often”

Kemptville Farmers’ Market Oct 13 – and here’s an old Mark Ettinger poster to grab your attention!

Hi folks — happy Canadian Thanksgiving weekend… or… as we call it in Canada, “Thanksgiving”.

I will be the musical guest at this Sunday’s Farmers’ Market in Kemptville, playing from 1-3pm… Located in downtown Kemptville in the B&H lot, or, if you are like me and can’t get 2 blocks without using Google Maps, at 200 Sanders St. Kemptville, ON

In honour of October I will likely play my scarily accurate cover of Michael Jackson’s monster hit “Thriller” (‘monster’ hit, heh heh…) or, possibly, not…

To be clear, the ‘Thriller’ thing is a joke– I did cover it once, but ‘scarily accurate’ is not how I would describe my attempt… It’s way more likely that I’ll do a bunch of Lennon songs in honour of his recent birthday, and a bunch of happy fun market tunes that I’ve accumulated playing all the various and sundry markets in the region this season…

Either way — here’s a poster from the mind of my pal Mark Ettinger, one of a series of 12 different movie themed posters he made for a single show we played back in ’16 or so when I had that venue place…

Hope to see you at the market!