Friday, January 18, 2008

Getting It Right

Another marvellous evening in the studio. Lights down with one lit candle, a glass of red beside me on the floor, guitar in hand and a song to sing:

“Lovers come and sometimes lovers go
One’s not persuaded, but the other knows
The heart’s a pilgrim `til it finds a home
`Til it hears another say:

Let a little light burn between us then
As morning parts the blinds and sunlight sends
Its gentle hands to wake us once again
Let a little light burn between us then.”

Took us four or five passes and we were happy. Dennis did a great job on the board, inspired perhaps by his own glass of wine nearby…and dare I say it by the song, too. It’s all beginning to take shape. Mike and Suzanne did the Mexican trumpets on a cheeky little number I wrote last year called Footloose Heart…and did them very well I might add. Nice job done by all.

More to follow.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Crossing the Extremities

Isn't there a song entitled "Mama Told Me There Would Be Days Like This"? If not, there should be (Maybe it was just a line in a song). In any event, we just learned that the computer in one of the two studios we use has crashed, cashiering the whole of tomorrow's recording schedule, which had been tagged for violin and accordion tracks. It seems one of the local music stores provided the engineer with the pre-amp he needed to fix the problem, but neglected to include something called a "fire wire" cable (Yikes, that sounds dangerous). But if I cross my fingers and toes, perhaps he'll deliver it tomorrow so it's all fixed in time for the mandolin recording on Sunday.

Then there's the paperwork. I found out today the mechanical rights to songs by Dougie MacLean and Danny O'Keefe ("Caledonia", "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues") are good for Canada only and that I must, if I want the international rights, contact folks in London, U.K. and likely the US - undoubtedly, more money being vacuumed up from my cash-strapped budget. The boys must be paid, though, and so I have been dutifully filling out permission request forms and checking with the agency in Toronto that oversees such things to clear up some of the ambiguities in their data base - like why they have two different registration entries for one song. Answer: "We shouldn't. Sorry". Mercy!

The good news? Ken Hamm's slide guitar pieces arrive on Monday from his home in Forget, Saskatchewan - all very exciting (though I do hope his town's name is not a harbinger of things to come).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Man (staff?) the barricades?

Well, what excuse can one offer for tardiness in writing, but the usual complaint about Christmas holidays, plus an arduous CD recording schedule? I promise to post with greater regularity. All in all, not a bad Christmas, though, with trips to Burnaby with dear son Daniel to see his grandmother, a modest birthday celebration (which I quickly blanked from my mind) and Christmas dinner at Brian and Judy's house. This was topped off by an outing to Matisse’s Restaurant where I and a friend were treated to exquisite French cuisine and entertainment courtesy of the establishment's thoroughly engaging owner. Matisse's is much recommended.

As for the CD, we are heading down the stretch, with a super job on piano and synthesizer turned in so far by Karel Roessingh and on drums by Jerry Adolphe. A few main vocals remain to be done, plus violin and accordion by the redoubtable Calvin Cairns, slide guitar by the righteous Ken Hamm and incidental pieces on bagpipe, penny whistle and hand drum. With any luck we'll have it all mixed and mastered and in hand for our first 2008 gig February 29 at the Acoustic Cafe. Details to come.

Some may wonder where I find time to read, but I've managed to make time for an excellent essay by the Canadian poet and critic Carmine Starnino. Starnino comes in for some justified knuckle wrapping for his rough treatment of some of our established poets. That said, the title essay of his book "A Lover's Quarrel" is compelling. In sum, he argues that in their efforts these three or four decades to produce a national poetry by turning their backs on established international lights from the UK and the US, Canadian poets have actually robbed themselves of vital influences - influences that far from "colonizing" Canadian poetry might have helped to invigorate and shape it.

One reviewer replies saying Starnino has set up a false dichotomy, another that the poets he endorses bear suspiciously close relationships to the publication Starnino himself edits, still another that those endorsements fall short of the critical acumen Starnino prescribes for other critics. Interestingly, few take him to task over his attempted evisceration of the reputations of some of our most notable poets. Can it be that he has won tacit consensus for a fresh aesthetic/critical agenda? A tall order, perhaps, though I agree with one reviewer who considers it an important essay, if only because it asks us to challenge some of our assumptions about the Canadian poetry scene.

Other critical titles worth reading:

Alfred Corn's "The Poet's Heartbeat: A Manual of Prosody”
Robert Pinsky's "The Sounds of Poetry"
John Hollander's “Sound and Sense”

Each of these provides a progressively helpful elucidation of metre, culminating in a rather difficult analysis of the principle historical outcome of traditional prosody by Charles O. Hartmann called “Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody.” Difficult, and not everyone’s cup of tea, but I persevere.