Saturday, 6 May 2017

Everything

i feel lost
afloat on the waves
up and down
it’s as though all the work and all the road
might have been in vain

when i started CAL
it was effortless
but it was an effortlessness that took a ton of hard work
over 150 shows this coming year
and we’re still just getting started

when i was a teenager
going through school
i paid no attention
i was below average with an occassional spark of interest
my report cards were dismal
my vibe with my parents was deteriorating
i was a loner
i laugh today - because no one from my high school remembers me
it was like i didn’t exist
i would spend all of my time listening to albums
i knew them all note for note - my capacity to remember lyrics exceeds that of anyone else i know
i could sing the entire top 40
i could recite a hundred albums

this of course would not do with the powers that be
and i was pushed towards straight and true
get a good education - get a job - get a routine
and while i always admired that in others
it wasn’t for me
so
i had that huck finn moment
the one where huck decided not to turn jim in
and is prepared to damn himself to all eternity
and in doing so - ultimately does the right thing
well
i decided that i would follow the music
become a musician
a band leader
set out

in 1980 i quit college
broke up with my girlfriend
and quit my job at the bay
to go to parry sound ontario
for a week long gig that paid $40 for the entire week
we did the gig
i was happy 
all the bridges burned - i had set out

and so began my life
my life
a happy time inside decades of bars 
it’s what i did
and it came at a price
by the time i started closing in on 30
friends were cutting bait and disgruntled with my lack of realism
to them i was uncontrollable 
i should have a job and be making plans for a family
but it wasn’t for me
of course i had dire moments of doubt
driving home from gigs - up all night - the crack of morning
and you’re in a traffic jam full of people on their way to work
work?
what was i doing?
there was no record deal waiting - i was too old and i just wasn’t good enough
work?
i had no real skills - my currency was all that came with a troubadours life
work?
i lived gig to gig - no savings - no real plan
it didn’t matter
i had my father’s genetics - do it yourself - stay true - don’t be afraid to love
i had my mother’s common sense - get on with it and stop second guessing yourself
they had come to respect my decisions 
i was always a good son
they saw that i was happy and quick to love
so
fuck it 
i’m stayed true to myself
and followed the music

i did cabaret shows
tribute shows
track shows
emcee shows
and countless bar gigs
i worked hard and made money
i started composing music for television
i invented a system that made it easy for television producers to use my material 
without the red tape of forms and sign offs
and with that the money started rolling in
i met susan
got married 
had 2 beautiful sons
we had a house a car a dog and life was stable

i reinvented myself again at the age of 41
i always understood the press
and when asked how i started CAL
i had a tight sound bite ready to roll out
but the truth is
i don’t know
it was like artists describing their muse
it just happens
but that doesn’t make for good copy
so i had some storys prepped
and when asked if this was a true story
i would say it’s true it’s a story

the joy of hiring musicians and paying them well
is only rivaled by love for your children and partner
i seek out the best people and they seek me out in turn
you get into CAL - you’ve got the keys to the kingdom
the best music
the best musicians
the best venues
the best hang
the best pay
and all this without the drudgery of playing the same set night after night
or vapid fame
we play on the weekends
we fly into places - set up - play - and fly home in time for sunday dinner
it’s perfect
and it’s getting more perfect

i cut bait on some real downers over the years
the artistic temperment is a fragile one
but that’s bullshit
people in offices and construction sites tip toe around malcontents too
i’m lucky - i’m the boss - i give them a chance 
and if they don’t buck up
i fire their ass
that said - i always keep the door open
i don’t carry grudges
life is too short
and my energy is maxed out these days

the tough part for me 
was being the boss and staying friends with the musicians who worked with me
i never was one to seek the advice of others
there’s all kinds of books on how to succeed
and i’m sure they all say that when you’re a CEO
you have to keep yourself guarded from the people you work with
and show nothing but a strong side
fuck that
i am a mess of a man
a kind man
and a sensitive man
it’s an honour to share my vulnerabilites with my fellow musicians
it’s the glue in our resolve 
when we roll into town
we’re all the best we can be
because we lean on each other

up until a few months ago
life was rolling along nicely
i had broken another rule and started seriously getting involved with amanda
previously we’d spent years together traveling side by side
the three of us - myself amanda and alex
we have theme songs that we call upon when we’re all on open road together
so when amanda and i connected
it was easy - we were well aware of what we were getting into
things moved fast
i felt true love for the first time in a long time
and with that
i would often say to her
it’s a happy time
therefore - something bad is going to happen
hard times come and hard times go and hard times come and hard times go
just to come again

my oldest son lucas started feeling sick in late october
we checked him into the hospital
and the worst sentences were spoken
lucas had a rare and aggressive cancer
and it was killing him
myself and his mother - susan
well
we did what any caring parent would do
we loved

lucas passed in late december
2 months after the diagnosis
his strong young body compensated for the discomfort
as rare as the cancer was - it wasn’t uncommon for young people to push through discomfort
there was nothing that anyone could do
susan and i never left his side - never
we did 24 hour shifts one after the other for a solid 2 months
my beautiful son
he’s gone
and i’m lost

my life has taken a turn against nature
no parent should survive their child
it’s not right
and it makes no sense
and that’s the frustration of it all
there is no sense to be made of this
it’s maddening
and it’s never going away
i’m aware that there will always be a palpable element of sadness to my life

i’m also doing my best to keep myself in check
it’s hard being around people
if i hear someone complain about something
i get really anxious
i breath deep
amanda watches me out of the corner of her eye
i let it go
but i have zero tolerance for any bullshit
and my tact meter has been switched off

last month
i started back to work
it still gets foggy
but having the musicians as my friends strengthens me
i’m glad i’ve steered the company like i have
to all the alumni
my deepest heart felt thanks for taking care of my company
and each other in my adsence
your true colours are brilliant and fierce
your capacity for compassion is perfectly set

i finding my way slowly
i know enough to stay away from people who don’t really know me 
i don’t want commiseration
or hugs
or consoling
i just want to work
and quietly honour my son’s legacy
by being the best i can be

susan, jackson amanda and i have a saying
recently they all had a birthday 
and i told them that they were turning one
our little family is also turning one
tracy
mum
kate
carol
jim
mezz
those of us on the front lines
life is brand new
everything is a first
we are waiting for our first birthdays

there are moments while mixing the shows
that i feel so emotional - equal measures of strength and weakness
it’s the music
the beauty and power of the music
it is life to me
it makes me feel something that isn’t bordered by absolute grief
it is hopeful and strong
it revives me and helps me remember to seek out beauty
it has been the constant in my life
i’m thankful for that

last week i stood in a field and played baseball with jackson
we hit caught and threw the ball silently to one another
we were both aware that we were missing a fielder
but we stayed the course and a calm found us

when we played massey hall
well
if you were there - you saw it
the lights from the phones during candle in the wind
how could you not feel connected at a time like that?
the spectacle let me hide my tears
the hall aglow 
the music - perfect
in that moment i knew that my life - all life - is defined by moments of grace
some people find it in a church
some in volunteer work
some in movies
i find it in the halls of my life
the stages - the metaphor gaining gravitas 
i want this to continue 
my huck finn moment proving worthwhile

and with that
now more than ever
i wish nothing but love for everyone we cross paths with
dream big
live a life that matters
fix the old wounds
let go of the weights
forgive
aspire and soar
and take care of each other


craig



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2 comments:

  1. Sad, poetic, and heartfelt words Craig. Having recently suffered a double loss of my closest loved ones, I am somewhat reticent to speak so eloquently, let alone even understand what I am feeling. Reading your words is a flickering light for me right now in the darkness. Thank you.

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  2. Thanks for this, Jamie. My condolences. Winston Churchill has a quote I'm fond of: "When you find yourself going through hell - keep going."

    I hope you have someone to get you through these tough times. If you're ever at a show - please introduce yourself and excuse me in advance if I'm short but I often have a lot going on.

    Craig

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