There are words and there is music. I tend to work on them together but I especially enjoy the personal challenge of writing lyrics.
There is a thrill in seeing an idea grow out of a few scattered phrases into something that takes root and then opens up a view on the world that is new and unexpected. I always try to let the words lead. Musa loquetur ad me.
My songs are mostly fragments of fiction, but I’m certain that the subconscious works its way into my songs too. Yellowhead West is a song that could have taken many directions when I first started work on it. In fact, it began with a lyrical idea that revolved around a parent-child relationship but later became something altogether different as I began to draw on images and feelings evoked by a late Autumn drive from Edmonton to Jasper. Apart from having driven the highway many times, there is really nothing in that song that directly links to my life; instead, I consider it a gestalt that touches on the kind of feelings that might be stirred up during a road trip through an empty mountain pass.
The songs on the record revolved around the common theme of loss or longing, but not in a hopeless way. Cold Coffee and She Came By are both about remembering a special moment and, perhaps, a lost opportunity. I imagine Doin’ By Me as a phone call that takes place between lovers that parted ways long ago.
Speaking of love, that subject also works its way into the songs, yet it seems to be manifested as a kind of struggle. You’ll hear that in You, Me, and the Almighty and Longest Night of the Year, both of which convey a sense of asserting oneself against outside forces by appealing to a higher power for resolve.
Overall, there is a bittersweetness to the songs on the record. Perhaps that is inevitable. I’m a Cancer and the astrologers say that my sign … reflects the mysterious, continual cycles of nature… the ebb and flow of the tides – and, as such, reflects the ebb and flow of emotions.
Maybe it’s this trait that led me to write “A Long Goodbye” after watching my young son at play in the backyard. It’s not meant to be a sad song but there is always a lingering sadness that inheres in the joys of parenthood and of growing old. I guess that’s part of the ebb and flow of life generally.
And so here we are. I now offer these words to you. They are now yours to make of them what you will. Thank you for listening.