Blood Guitar and Other Tales, Notes
Listeners sometimes ask how particular songs came to be written. Here, to the best of my ability, are brief explanations of the stories behind these songs, and/or what they are about.
By Gananoque Lake: The inspiration for this song came from young Daniel himself, who is a real person hired to do yard work on Teddy’s property. “Thank you, sir, for working me hard” is his exact phrase. I was so impressed by his attitude, and by the proverb-like quality of the phrase, that I knew a song had to be written about him. This was the period when the Occupy Movement was at its disorderly and ungrateful height, so I brought it into the song in contrast.
So It Goes: The title reprises Kurt Vonnegut’s tag from Slaughterhouse-Five. Teddy's flute binds the song to its subject; I cannot now imagine the song without it.
The Island: Sheer bravado with a hint of truth.
The Most of It: Love is rarely—probably never—free of some form of doubt, and is always inhabited by fear of the inevitable.
I Live to Love you: Sometimes even when articulating truth, one must be facetious to avoid too much solemnity. Hence our decision to keep the laughter sequence that was accidentally recorded.
Speaking Eyes: I wrote this for Janice during a time when we were tremulously working out our future. It’s my personal favourite. I love Teddy's accompanying guitar work.
Blood Guitar: While I was examining an attractive guitar at a music shop, Janice pointed out that it was made in the People’s Republic of China. I immediately thought of blood diamonds. Months later, feeling depressed on a desolate afternoon in the small town of Westport, Ontario, I wrote this song, which has nothing to do with China.
Darling One: A song written in hope—which eventually became true.
River Time: Life in the Thousand Islands region along the St. Lawrence River introduces one to a much more leisurely conception of time, as I gradually discovered after repeated visits; I was habitually late for every appointment and soon lost all awareness of the calendar. Ultimately the place became my home. The leisureliness may have its drawbacks, but it does calm the nerves and gives new meaning to La dolce vita.
For some reason, during the first six or seven takes of the song, I was persistently massacring the beat; Janice's metronomic direction straightened me out.
Rose of Time: Is this every man’s desire, to feel that his woman always loved only him, even before they met? That everything that happened before was either a mistake or a preparation? That, without knowing it, she had always lived in “the rose of time”? Is this the only way to counter the jealousy of the past, or what I call the sense of ‘retrospective infidelity’? I tend to think so.
Maidel: A klesmer-type song recounting how Janice and I became “Jewish together.” Margaret's sinuous clarinet-like piano perfectly captures the feeling I was trying to evoke.
November Song: A true story and a fundamental truth in a mode bordering on Country—as someone said in describing Country music, ‘Three chords and the truth.’
The Witch: What the French call a boutade, a jeu d’esprit, a playful exaggeration of a variegated sexual history, which neither feminists nor traditionalists have found amusing. “Tough titty,” as they say.