Hawksley Workman is back !
“The bug to write songs still burrows deep. It’s a plague on the eyes and the ears. That there’s a song in everything. in every moment.”
It’s been nearly a year since the move to Montréal. After a long stretch in the country planting garlic and driving the old yellow snowmobile around to see where the foxes peed and moose stomped through, my wife and i have returned to a lovely cosmopolitan grind. But this city is only revealing gentle layers so far, and there’s inspiration hiding… poorly.
It’s a place that humbly oozes its character. And i’ve been a willing recipient. Through the winter, riding my bike in the snow and under the vanhorn bridge to my studio just past beaubien in the mornings. I had an old hero to impress. The soundtrack to my first real apartment (the place without bugs, but with a toilet and sink) was the dears first record, ‘end of a hollywood bedtime story’. And some 20 years later, i’d signed myself up to work with the brilliant mind behind that record, Murray Lightburn. As the battering ram of cold and snow waged its old war on the city, i kept a determined pace of daily writing with one goal… to impress this guy.
It’s funny what happens over years of writing songs. You chase all kinds of ghosts to see what you can rattle loose… and in this soon to be 376 year old city, there’s a million of them with pockets full of mysteries yet to be picked. In the alleys and the stuffy second floor spaces over bars where the bands that broke out of this town incubated and fell in love and fought and created dreams.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the lovely cruelty of passing time. they’re pulling up Saint-Catherine street here, and under the concrete and pavement finding plumbing that dates back 200 years. The city’s water systems moaning over cleaning out particulate that would have settled itself before the cars that bounce around this place were ever dreamed up. I’ve chased being new for 20 some odd years.
In the music business, we like what’s new. So what happens when you wake up 43, stroking your chin with a far away look in your eye, and considering your 16th record? I’ve almost never stopped to smell the roses. I look back now with a curious nostalgia about my momentary grip on what felt like almost world domination. The zeitgeist knows where you belong, and if you linger too long in the hallways after closing, it’ll spit you out and drop you to where you’re supposed to be. And i feel now, more than ever, where i belong.
The ideas and passions still burn hot in me. Like when my grandma hawksley was nearing the end of her life she visited the old school house i’d bought with my first small burst of money from music, the schoolhouse she’d gone to as a child. She leaned against her walker looking at the two glorious old pines that book ended the entrance path and said that “she’d climb these trees today if she could”. The spirit is willing but the flesh is… is always changing.
I heard a show on the CBC about somebody’s “body of work”… i don’t remember who it was, but for the first time i considered it. I know i’ve got one, i’ve never dusted it off to have a gander at it. For me, today’s triumph has always been tomorrow’s forgotten memory. So i’ve had the charity to give it a look. The funny thing is, the audience has always been there as a companion piece to these years. And many of you have stayed around to see what i was going to do next. I cannot thank you enough for the blessing of your attention all this time.
The bug to write songs still burrows deep. It’s a plague on the eyes and the ears. That there’s a song in everything. in every moment. It’s just about seeing it, even the benign, with fresh sight. So as the summer takes its rest on us, i put the last finishing touches on a new record that i couldn’t be more proud of, and i pull out an old one and christen it to the true music lover’s format of long playing vinyl record… I’m learning it’s ok to be proud of its “bull in a china shop” innocence.
I’ve got gigs planned for the autumn in cities in europe and the UK that i’ve loved and that have loved me back. And i’ve got old and new irons in the fire to keep my wanton imagination and energy distractions when they need it. In short, i love making things.
Bless you for being there to listen to, watch or read the things i’ve made over the years. It’s an honour. A great, great honour. so happy summer to all (and happy winter to those in the southern hemisphere)… the creative life is a long one. There’s something shimmering in everything, even the ache, and we can keep loving it and talking about it all together for as long as we feel we want to.