Category Archives: Lessons

silence her

I don’t care if my kid plays music or not but I want to make it easy to grab it if she so desires. I play in front of her and invite her to play with me, to jam in any fashion. The closest I come to outright manipulation is playing Moana or Frozen or Twinkle Twinkle on the piano and offering to show her how. What little person can pass that up?
But once the work of remembering the difference between pitches starts she soon finds it boring and gets the new idea to ride her bike, fair enough. Maybe I can teach her piano someday, for now I’m ok with the only other thing we’ve accomplished – knowing the difference between an ordinary fart and a silencer, (insert Maui voice) your welcome.


1998, on an airplane flying to the Edmonton Folk Festival. Kate and Anna McGarrigle were seated near me. Couldn’t help it, went over to tell Anna how much I liked her song ‘Goin Back To Harlan. She smiled and without blinking asked “Do you know my version?”
I understood so much from that. Understood that she wondered if my compliment was about her or Emmy Lou Harris’s version. Understood that she hears many people praising her song not knowing the original. Understood she’s being polite but would rather hear I was drawn to her stuff not because a famous person put it on her famous record produced by a famous producer.
“No” I answered sheepishly and went back to my seat understanding I had research to do.

mainstream makes radical normal

The mainstream absorbs revolutionary ideas then sells them back as non-threatening. Can you imagine punk rockers in the 70s with fuchsia mohawks and ripped jeans? If you weren’t there it was radical and incomprehensible.  How long did it take before the machine was selling ripped jeans and pink mohawked people on the covers of popular magazines? It’s like the Borg assimilating everything whether a mohawk or bebop or electric Dylan or president Trump.

It might be better for one’s relationship with their own art making to avoid working with the mainstream, might help sustain a longer respect for your craft or to put it another way it’s a slippery slope to have a corporate partner it usually dilutes the thing that was concentrated in the first place even if there are exceptions.