Yes, yes… 2020 has been a bear. A few more weeks left, that’s all. The horizon is finally in sight. This may be no comfort to those who have lost loved ones, or the doctors and nurses who will struggle with PTSD for years to come, but I assume if you’re reading this you’re still here. Thank you for staying with us. And thank you, Science.
Please stay safe, keep following protocols until enough of us are immunized, keep the holidays to your immediate household, and keep the schools closed a little longer where needed.
And let’s all be vigilant for the next one should it come in our lifetime.
Lovely article in this week’s IndyWeek by long-time Db enthusiast Brian Howe. Who’d have thought #coronadrops would lead to my first actual press coverage in a decade? Man, this awful year just keeps getting stranger.
As some of you probably know, I have Brontë lungs already weakened by a double-smoking-parent childhood followed a half-life of evenings spent in smoky clubs. Little known fact: I am also the wiktionary definition of the word sedentary. So I must confess I have sorta kinda been keeping an eye on this whole Coronavirus business.
For the past two decades I have oscillated between writing some pretty good pop songs, recording them in various contexts, generally hating said recordings and/or my performances, and then not releasing, or occasionally banishing said songs from my thoughts. Self-deprecation and insecurity are hardly unique amongst songwriters (or artists, in general) but I had somehow managed to turn it into a ridiculous, crippling trail of unfinished business.
But then I lost a songwriter friend to the Trump Virus. On Tuesday I heard he was on a ventilator. Wednesday, he was gone. And I couldn’t help but feel that there was still this constellation of ideas, melodies, hooks, words there in his mind and suddenly they were GONE just like that, in an instant.
And also kind of like that, I realized that I need to stop taking this stuff quite so seriously. I need to stop needing things to be perfect or great (or as close as I ever get to that, though that’s another conversation) and just get on with the work with whatever time I have left on this planet.
So I’m going to empty my drawers and post one unreleased song a day, for the duration of the quarantine, or until they start to suck.
I remember the glimmer in Dave Celia’s eye before the gig years ago when he said almost conspiratorially “I hope you don’t mind, I have a song for you tonight, Bryk.” And then it showed up on his ace album This Isn’t Here and I basked in the glow of a first-rate takedown. Or compliment. Both, I think.
I stumbled onto Dave’s music around the turn of the millennium when by chance I stumbled across his band Invisible Inc. opening for someone else I’ve long forgotten. They were way more musicianly and classic rock-minded than the Queen Street indie crowd. I’d never heard anyone local (other than Swinghammer, or maybe Kevin Breit) play rock guitar with jazz fluidity and punk rock urgency, like Larry Carlton slumming with Steely Dan. Or something. All his songs weren’t quite there yet, you could still clearly pick off the influences, but his writing was way more ambitious than the new wave slackers and pub crawlers you would catch playing a thankless weeknight at C’est What.
Gently blown away, I introduced myself, (hopefully) bought him a drink, and soon realized we grew up barely a mile away in the shallow suburbs of Mississauga. He invited me over to his home studio and played me a bunch of songs that morphed into his first solo record Organica while my jaw kept dropping further with each song. I caught him every chance I could in the year or so before I departed on my great American misadventure, and I suppose my gratuitous tales of career success/failure/success/failure left an impression on him. Dave has worked much much harder at making an actual career of making music than I ever have, and when you hear him sing or even touch the strings, you’ll know it.
So it was double homecoming seeing Dave and Marla play last week. I love their duet record Daydreamers but didn’t realize they had re-recorded this—ahem—my song together as a standalone single. Check it out. And then work your way backwards through their catalogues for some tremendous awesome.