For a long time, I’ve joked that I have a “complicated relationship” with my home - the city, the province, the whole ice-laden country. I ache for the rolling fields of yellow and blue and soft green in July, and wince at the “uninhabitable” cold of January. I miss our way of life—its simplicity, warmth, closeness, and kindness—and I feel grateful for so much that I have had access to through leaving it behind.
Growing up in Saskatchewan, I always wanted to leave, specifically to California and Los Angeles where I finally ended up a few years ago after a number of strange detours.
(It’s been a comedy of errors since getting here, with the world exploding and shutting down just after I settled in, and me spending so much of the next few years stuck grazing Twitter from my perch on the outskirts rather than experiencing the city. I had a few months of the last bits of normal LA before things changed definitively. It often feels like I got to a party just as everyone was leaving.)
I was delayed in my California dreams out of high school, and I ended up falling in love with home the two years afterward. I have since cycled through time there over the years in between life in Vancouver, London, Austria, Italy, and here, always feeling a strained affection and tension that must be common to those of us who leave our homes.
Clearly, I’ve had a lot of time and occasion to consider what my home is and explore the tension I’ve always felt in relation to it. This ongoing inner dialogue is the fodder for an upcoming album I’ve been working on that dovetails with my sharing of a hometown with the great Joni Mitchell. I’ve often thought of pairing it with a book as well, but am reticent to fall into the predictable suburban autobiographical impulse. Time will tell what happens with that, but the songs are nearly finished.
In 2016, I toured the whole country with a friend, peppering intimate concerts along the way and having beautiful conversations—right to the eastern tip in St. John’s, Newfoundland. So much of the best in all of the people I met: unpretentious generosity, goodness, joy, humility. In addition to being a wonderful time, spending a few weeks in the Maritimes was a broadening experience that gave me a deeper perspective about the cultural and historical richness of Canada, and a song from childhood choir days came back to me.
A couple of years ago, also from my forced lockdown perch, I finally recorded it, appreciating its poetic view of the harbours and their ships and the tales they would tell if they could speak.
We all come from courageous generations with so many forgotten stories—from home and from those who left their homes—and it’s good for us to remember. No matter how our lives unfolds, where we come from always matters, maybe now more than ever.
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Something to this song. I'll be coming back to give it another listen. From someone not a fan of the 90s melancholy I think you treasure (well, Mazzy Star and a few others I liked) but an appreciator of a certain amount of folkiness.
Learned of you through your recent American Mind piece. You might like my Carl's Rock Songbook work--maybe try last year's piece for the substack on millenial-gen popular music https://pomocon.substack.com/p/carls-rock-songbook-no-130-my-favorite or 101 from the original series on NRO: https://www.nationalreview.com/postmodern-conservative/carls-rock-songbook-no-101-common-sense-conservatives-about-popular/
And if you don't know about Weyes Blood, there are two of my substack pieces on their songs, and I believe you would like it.