A Songwriter InspiredIssue: Section:
Within the realm of chaos, music is my haven.
In a world where thoughts are offered so freely,
I learned to communicate through the written word.
Ideas are born out of confusion.
I begin by posing a question, accepting that the answers lay with the beholder.
It's like my craft is incomplete until it's met by another.
The raw beauty in music comes not from intent, but how it can affect the listener in so many unexpected ways.
A Montreal house takes a lot of care. You've got to worry about pipes freezing and roofs leaking. My parents were born and married in Montreal. I think the winter caught them off guard as it swept in early. The two of them weren’t ever much for home maintenance. They split up when I was five. Their separation, coupled with the knowledge of the wild decision they made that led to their divorce, broke my childhood fantasies somewhat prematurely. I could go into those times further, but the truth is they weren’t much different from anyone else’s. We all loose our innocence at one point or another.
My mother raised my brother and I as a single mom. She was a survivor, working overtime to make ends meet. In the summer we’d go camping in Ontario. The nights were veiled by a noisy stupor of campfire jamboree. One cross-legged evening by the fire, I heard an acoustic guitar playing in the neighboring campsite. In all the excitement, my mother must have taken notice of my curiosity. Upon returning home, my uncle stopped by our house and gifted me with his acoustic guitar, “an indefinite loan,” as he put it.
I poured thousands of hours into that guitar. It unveiled my passion for songwriting. I committed myself to developing as writer. I found inspiration within my family, in books and films, and within the lyrics of the songwriters I idolized. I reached for words as if they were threads of the garment of understanding I longed to weave.
In CEGEP, Montreal’s form of junior college, I found my first true mentor, my english teacher, Larry Weller. He taught me that art was like a bridge that connected the artist to the reader. The truth, he said, laid not on either end but rather in between. In a funny way, the ambiguity was refreshing. I became more interested in asking the right questions than searching for answers. He also showed me how to make sense of poetry and I became actively intrigued in the poems we studied. I then took this knowledge home and began applying it to my own craft.
It was within that period that I felt my confidence grow. I honed my talents as a songwriter as I performed regularly in the city. I was left humbled by individuals who told me my songs reflected their own experiences. In one of those unique moments, I was wrapping up a set when a perfect stranger approached me. A young woman in tears who explained that she had connected with a song I had written about my sister’s struggle to cope with her family and social situation. The song ended with me begging for her pardon, as I felt that I had not been present enough in her life to offer her real support. The young woman’s responsiveness to my song encouraged me to continue to inspire by raising the question.
I’ve always been an idea man. I was the kid who showed up each day with a new “marvelous” life plan. I would be joining the air force on Tuesday, and then decidedly plan on becoming a welder on Wednesday. My friends got used the routine, my mom entertained my ideas, but my dad advised me to be pragmatic.
“Play to your strengths. Your a songwriter. The world needs songs and you can write them!”
For most fathers, the prospect of their sons pursuing a career in the arts would be foolish. A disappointment. Somewhat offbeat in his own right, my father supported the inevitable decision I made to chase my dreams.
A few months ago, I moved to New York city, the place where people chase their dreams around the grid like the moon chases the sun through the sky. Here, time moves as fast as bustling New Yorkers. It seems like the bar is raised in this city as everyone sees potential for success just around the corner.
I’m excited to be performing here for the first time at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, an amazing prospect for any academic of songwriting and folk music, on Sunday, June 15th. I’ll be on stage at 10:00pm. Feel free to stop by to say hello.