Author Archives: Bob Wiseman

About Bob Wiseman

Writes songs, tours the world, makes movies, accompanies them live, produces records, arranges music, scores tv serials and films, acts in theatre (but really not a very convincing actor) and empties cat litter way more than his wife. HOW DO I BOOK BOB FOR A CONCERT? In Canada (Bob Wilson) In America (Matt Suhar) In Italy (Monica Melissano) HOW DO I HIRE BOB TO WRITE MUSIC? In North America – (Ian Arnold)

dark games at u of m

There was a music building at the University of Manitoba and sometimes I had my own winter olympics there, arriving at night and not slipping on icy stairs. Being Winnipeg, one had an extension cord wrapped around the side mirror which you unfolded to plug into outlets so the oil wouldn’t get too close to freezing. It was a white concrete building maybe from the 60s. The door wasn’t locked. Piano sounds floating in the hallways. I could snoop. Mostly uprights but then I found one Baldwin grand and it was after 9pm and no staff around, perfect.  A bright sounding Baldwin and the action was in that perfect zone of crispness, reacting super fast but the weight of the keys light enough for swift end results of whatever ideas were going down. The light switch was reachable from the bench and so once seated I turned it off and played in pitch blackness. Making up compositional games about playing without seeing. How long can I play without knowing where I am and make a good sound? That was the first game. Eventually it the 2cnd game starts, to playing without seeing but know relatively where you are. The 3rd game can I play in clusters and not have someone start banging on the door that I’m damaging the piano (which really means I’m injuring their taste). 4th game is turning the lights back on and seeing what happens to my playing from playing in the dark so long.


Heard an interview with Hanson on CBC, listened to them say things like this.

fame is really not impressive…….the interesting thing is the future…………we’re celebrating 25 years for a reason, for us this is the journey…………..people say do you ever get tired of playing your songs, well it’s part of the job

Didn’t know I could throw up so many times in a row.

rip it up

When John Lennon released Rock N’ Roll it threw me for a loop. I liked his solo records and his previous record, Walls and Bridges, was only a few months old, surprising another new record came out so fast. At that time in my younger life, I couldn’t stand the sound of 50s music, it seemed hokey but Rock n’ Roll was a revelation. The horn sections, the unexpected percussion on every track melding with the Jim Keltner kit, José Feliciano on guitar and Lennon’s voice in it’s best shape. Sort of ironic the record I admire most by him is just a bunch of covers but at the same time totally transformational. To this day I can’t enjoy the original Stand By Me compared to the other worldliness where John Lennon placed his version. The little chugging upstroke at the 5th fret does so much more for whatever part of my brain buzzes when happy.
Peggy Sue is as interesting as the best Buddy Holly work but that rendition has a psychedelic aspect that propels the idea of the singer’s infatuation into surrealism. It made me think differently about the power of music. I could gush forever about each track. The cowbell on Bony Moronie, the nonchalant voiceover jokes to the intro of Just Because, the off mic whisper at the end of Be Bop A Lu La, the crazy compressed piano sounds everywhere, the echo congas on You Can’t Catch Me and the way the horns align themselves with the drum kit or with rhythm guitar tracks and still reserve moments to punctuate ends of phrases. Sometimes I think that whole record is a reference for how to think about using horns in popular music because they are so creatively placed whether supporting or soloing.
Later, I realized for Lennon the music of the 50s was his adolescence and for Spector it was his 20s. They brought such punch and insight and hilarity and respect to those songs and I think on some level this is part of what they hoped, that people like me who didn’t get it, would be awestruck and grasp something else, maybe inspiration.