Category Archives: Lessons


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.

5 F student excerpts

Freud: Can you teach me how to play Bohemian Rhapsody?
Wiseman: Probably
Freud: How will you do it?
Wiseman: We’ll do small parts then incrementally you’ll know the whole.
Freud: Have you don’t this before?
Wiseman: Not this one but other songs.
Freud: That worked out?
Wiseman: Yes and No.
Freud: Yes and no?
Wiseman: Sometimes people got what they wanted, sometimes more than what they wanted, sometimes they didn’t or quit.
Freud: I’d like to know more about when they didn’t or quit.
Finkleman: Can you teach me how to play Bohemian Rhapsody?
Wiseman: Probably
Finkleman: Well can you or can’t you?
Wiseman: It depends on what it’s like to work with you.
Finkleman: What do you mean by that? I got the money right here.
Wiseman: Because whether or not you will practise what I show you is an unknown.
Finkleman: Forget it I’ll call someone else.
Fenster: An your tiach mi t;playimg Bheman apsody?
Wiseman: What?
Fenster: Grat, Sozey de kaiser.
Wiseman: Benicio?
Fenster: No poem jes won dater Bheman apsody.
Wiseman: I love your work man.
Fenster: Yamahm it’d kay me toonie.
Fetty: Can you teach me or reach me? Can you preach me Bohema Rhapsody?
Wiseman: Probably.
Fetty: Better try ‘n do a right job I got a glock in my ‘rari Bob.
Wiseman: If you buy 5 lessons in advance I make a discount.
Betty: You think this deal something I need more than her ass and how I got the weed ?
Wiseman: Up to you but I do have one opening.
Fetty: So I sit my ass on this seat. I get my stove you bring the heat. We hit the strip clubs find a magic pole then we be cooking’ piano it’s how we roll.
Wiseman: I think you do the club yourself, it’ll be like a break to help process some of what we’re doing and then we’ll move on.
Flash: I need to learn Bohemian Rhapsody fast?
Wiseman: Fast?
Flash: Fast.
Wiseman: You have to learn it slow before you can go fast.
Flash: You don’t understand.
Wiseman: A lot of people try to play fast.
Flash: It’s my superpower.
Wiseman: Is that why the track suit and mask?
Flash: Not a track suit.
Wiseman: It’s my superpower too, yes I can show you easy peasy.
Flash: I got your email from Cat Woman.
Wiseman: Say hi.
Flash: We don’t talk.
Wiseman: Sorry.
Flash: But she loves that song.
Wiseman: I get it.