New Release: Let’s Suppose

Let’s suppose that once upon a time, there was a citizen of humanity. This human tree was rooted in a Canadian city called Montreal, but from there, his roots and branches went here and there around this spinning globe, all along the often unexpected paths that love, curiosity and striving lead a life down. Anyway, let’s suppose this bloke got it into his head to create, sing, play, and record some songs. Let’s suppose he did all that, and that here they are for your listening pleasure. Well, then…

Thanks to… well, so many people really, including those involved with the Burlington Writers Songwriters group, the Outside the Blocks group, and other fellow songwriters, friends, and family members who have supported the process of creating these and other songs in a difficult and isolating time.

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I Talk on Vermont Talks

About what? Well, making up music, mostly. How I developed the habit, my influences, my approach to writing and to playing…. Here it is, then.

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My latest release is actually a submission for a songwriting contest held by Holy Crap Records, because why not? When I heard about the contest, and that the song had to be in C minor, I started playing around with a musical idea, and it went from there. Having studied philosophy in university I was aware of Thomas Hobbes and his treatise of that name, but I also did an online search and found some other things, like a psalm from the Torah (Old Testament of the Bible) and a science fiction writer. They all went into the stew. Enjoy!

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About Time!

Nothing like interesting times to inspire songwriting. True, this past year I’ve had trouble writing emails, letters and essays and have had trouble reading novels as well. But I’ve had no difficulty writing songs. The eight songs on this album are mostly more optimistic than my other recent work- could this be a trend? Stay tuned…

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2020 Vision Out Now!

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2020 Vision: Coming in October!

The albums keep coming, because I keep writing songs. 2020 Vision is a ‘concept’ album about living in the year 2020. I made a somewhat silly video for “Keep on Running”, the opening track, because I thought, “If I make a video, it can’t be serious. Me, make a video? Come off it!” So, here it is:

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Alternative Reality Show, Episode 2

And here is Episode 2

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Welcome to the Alternative Reality Show

In spring 2020, I released Alternative Reality Show episodes 1 and 2. Have a listen to Espisode 1 here!

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“No Trains on the Rails Today”: Political Songwriting

In #Canada they are trying to ram through a gas pipeline over the objections of #Wet‘suwt’en chiefs, despite the fact that legally (by treaty, which has been at least theoretically recognized by the courts as legally binding on the Canadian state) they are custodians of the land to be traversed. After the RCMP moved in to force the pipeline through, Mohawk in eastern Canada blockaded a major rail line, and other #solidarity actions are taking place as well. Meanwhile, politicians claim to still be all for #reconciliation with #Firstnations– but apparently this cannot extend to anything that might impede natural resource extraction.

Like any form of songwriting, political songwriting is actually pretty easy to do but much harder to get quite right. The jury’s still out on this particular song, but remember, a song is not a treatise or an argument. It may capture a set of thoughts and feelings around an issue. Or it might tell a story that brings the issue to life in some way. If anyone wants to know more about this issue there are many good sources out there (as well as some very bad ones), but one book that very much informed the lyrics here was The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King.

Songwriters tend to shy away from songs that directly take a political position for a number of reasons. One is that such songs tend to be divisive, and so songwriters who are trying to reach a broad audience can end up shooting themselves in the foot if they alienate too much of their audience. Also, as I mentioned, songs don’t lend themselves to in-depth examination of the issues. So the songs can end up becoming little more than slogans in service of a cause. Which is fine- that’s serving a purpose- but as art it can be very limiting. On the other hand, be too subtle and poetic and you’re not necessarily taking a clear or direct stand anymore.

So why write political songs? Because we write about what matters to ourselves and to others. After all, people still write religious songs even though that’s very much a niche market as well. If you feel something inside and you’re an artist, your art will probably end up communicating that in some way.



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My June 2019 ‘5 in 5’ Songs: A Review

Songwriting is a craft, but it is one that allows for some intense self-expression. You can learn the tricks of the trade just by keeping your hand in over years and years and by listening carefully to what others do. So, you twiddle the knobs and manipulate words and music. Sometimes you end up with a bland load of blah. But sometimes, you get a whole lot more than you bargained for. Something like the terrifying truth, in some form, comes roaring out from your subconscious. What do you do then, when it seems like you maybe revealed a bit too much or tapped into something that’s too hot to handle?

You try to assess the songs as songs, not as therapy or prophecy. We’ll see how that goes.

In this sequel to my post about the March 2019 5 in 5 challenge, I won’t go over the same things again. Instead I’ll provide a little background and then review each song.

I wasn’t expecting to participate in the 5 in 5 challenge in the first week of June. I thought I’d be busy. Plus, I’d been sick with the flu. I was still unwell when the first prompt arrived. But somehow, I was driven to complete all five songs in five days.

My theory is that my illness lowered my inhibitions to such an extent that I didn’t really think about what I was writing and performing beyond what I needed to do to complete and record each song. My voice was not in good shape, and so I had trouble hitting some notes. But (serendipity!) the rawness of the vocals added a gritty desperate edge that suited the songs. My not feeling well, and the mood I was in as a result, also made for a cranky set of songs overall.

It was good that, in addition to the usual prompts, optional musical prompts such as “use only three chords” were provided. Are you kidding? Me only use three chords? Maybe I’ll manage it someday… But I did use some of the other optional prompts.

Okay, let’s review the songs themselves:


Never Mind– I like the lyrics, and I like my phrasing of them- although it’s a bit tricky and I slipped up once or twice. Interesting rhythm in the way I sang, “Even on tiptoes, it’s a stretch I suppose”, for example. The chorus (which I’d already had lying around for a couple of years) may be a tad passive aggressive. The melody maybe sounds a bit too much like previous minor-key verse/ major-key chorus songs I’ve done. I’ll give it a 70/100.

Heavy Heart of Stone Wow, this is heavy stuff. We’re getting into emo-goth territory here! Interestingly, this bleak howl of a song was the one that got by far the biggest response from the 5 in 5 community. I’m not always depressed, I assure you! I was a bit embarrassed by this, to be honest, but it isn’t bland, I’ll give you that much. I took the “heart of stone” prompt and made into a symbol of depression masked as indifference. I sang it pretty well, I’d say, and while the recording quality is lo-fi it has an atmosphere that suits the subject matter.  I’ll give it a 75.

Pressure– As with “Never Mind,” I took words from the list provided and spun lines out of them, and the theme that quickly emerged was “pressure”. But I this case I came up with the music first, based on the optional musical prompt (I don’t remember what it was- probably a set of chords), recorded a backing track and then composed the lyrics over that. Another minor-key melody. Nice melodica solos. The singing’s pretty good; could be better in places. The intro, featuring wordless chanting, gets things moving nicely. And I like the harmonized ending. I’ll give it a 75.

Still Life– Superficially, at least, this is lighter than the previous songs on this list. It’s a pretty melody but I can’t help but think of it as a bit schmaltzy. But maybe I’m just a bit embarrassed by the emotions coming out here. I’ll give it a 60.

Clarity– This doesn’t seem quite finished. In response to the prompt of having a two-line chorus AND being the prompt of being cleansed of something, I made the chorus into a mantra. I’ve done that before: I did that on “Stop Thinking About You’ on my “Words and Things” album.

It doesn’t seem to work so well here. Maybe the trouble is that the music I came up with for the chorus isn’t quite right. I do like my singing on this one. I especially like how I sang the line, “I mean well, but well, what does that mean?” It’s a good line: I came up with it some years ago and have been waiting for the right thing to put it in.  I’m not sure this is it, though. The pacing of the recording is sloppy. I’ll give it a 55, with room for improvement.

After recording these songs I developed a throat infection, which only goes to show that perseverance in the pursuit of creation isn’t always wise.

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