I wish I had a dollar for every time someone had said they had a great opportunity for me. I’d likely be living above the poverty line. It amazes me how many times that opportunity has to do with performing for something I just don’t want to align myself with. I mean, I agree we all have great causes out there, and some I hold close to my heart, some I disagree with and for the majority of these causes I just don’t understand them. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t know whose interests are at stake. I don’t know the people involved or which way their moral compass points. I DO understand humanity and for that reason assume their compass is pointed due south. I’m not talking south of the 49th either. What about the repercussions for the other side of this cause? I just spoke with my niece about shipping food to Africa and she said it’s ultimately hurting them in the long run as they are essentially losing their farming skills. Even feeding the starving people of Africa has repercussions? Then tell me what cause is so noble? I don’t know… it all gets to be too much. The only thing I believe in these days is writing, playing and listening to music and even that has deep and potentially catastrophic consequences.
Think about it. Of all the musical heroes who’ve come and gone many have decided to take on big causes. Bruce Cockburn comes to mind. I’m sure even Bruce Cockburn would likely admit to some wonky moral compass behaviour which keeps him awake at night? I mean, if you really believe in solving the world’s problems, I would think rocket launchers aren’t the first choice for the UN. Well, strike that, maybe they are – the Security Council anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I still listen to Sunwheel Dance and a few of Bruce’s albums from that era. They resonate with me. His mid-career political ramblings are something I’ll take a flyer on. I’d rather get my propaganda de jour from dinosaurs like Reuters who have a seemingly endless amount of fertilizer for our national papers – let’s just call them Pravda and get it over with. It’s like when Bob Dylan and Van Morrison explored religion. That’s fine guys go as deep as you want in that regard just spare me the recorded musical insights. I bought into ‘With God on Our Side’ and ‘Cypress Avenue’ but I didn’t buy into much on Slow Train Coming or Enlightenment. But don’t take my word for it, I’m the guy who bought Paul Simon’s ‘Capeman’ the work he put out to accompany the play which flopped miserably. I told everyone I knew to race out and buy that record. I loved it. Let’s just say my credibility for recommending others artistry waned. At least Paul wasn’t singing about a cause. He was just telling a story.
What about John Lennon? When I first heard Plastic Ono Band I refused to listen to it ever again. Then one day someone gave me Lennon songbook which included ‘God’. Google THAT song! It still gets to me.
The ending is the best part where he sings “I just believe in me…Yoko and me and that’s reality!” Pretty cool way to look at it I’ve always thought. Hell, he was lucky to have someone else to believe in with Yoko. Notice how Yoko has never remarried? I guess it really was true and everlasting love. I can deal with Lennon’s version of causes: they’re simple, completely idealistic, romantic and often very raw. Unfortunately focusing more on the musical side of these sentiments would have served the songs better – but who in the hell am I to criticise John freaking Lennon?
Why do I bother writing this? For two reasons: One, I’ve just written a song about George W. Bush. Yup that’s right. It’s not really political per se but it’s about a political man. I hate when people assume my politics and so for that reason, you’ll have to wait until it’s released. I guess I’m feeling somewhat sheepish for writing about such subject matter.
Secondly, this weekend I am playing a Toronto folk festival called Winterfolk and when I logged on to their website this morning it brought me to a site called ‘A Better World’ (The Association of Artists for a Better World – We can use our voice to change the World – There is magic in our words). Really? Is this possible? Can we really change the world with our words and voices? Who said I want to make the world a better place? Not me. I’m just trying to cultivate my own little garden. (This from a guy who can barely take care of a cactus!) We’ll see what happens.
For the record… I believe in apples.