Tuesday, July 7, 2015

G is for Gould, Good and Great Big Sea!!!

     Glenn Gould was a classical concert pianist and is most famous for his recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations.  His is respected and admired around the world for his technical prowess on the piano, which has been likened to the greatest composers of all time.  He was prodigy-like in his ability to understand the heart of complicated compositions without having to play them. When he did play, he employed a style of pulling down on the keys from below, rather than striking them from above. Sales from his recording of The Goldberg Variations have topped the two million mark; a record total for classical music in Canada, placing it among the leaders on classical sales worldwide, as well.

     Glenn Gould has been given almost every major Canadian Music Award imaginable. He is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, he has a star in his honour on the Canadian Walk of Fame, he was awarded a Companion to the Order of Canada (but declined, stating that he was "too young" to receive such an award), he has won numerous Juno Awards and has received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in the United States.
     In Toronto, there sits a statue of Gould in front of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's headquarters, in recognition of his many appearances on the C.B.C. and his fervent belief in promoting the Arts in Canada.
     Gould is noted for being "eccentric" in his performing life and in his private life but, then again, most prodigies are.  Glenn Gould!  What a talent!  What a great Canadian!

     What is your "happy place"?   For some, I know it is a cottage by the lake. For others, it is riding along on a bicycle, wind flowing through their hair. For me, my happy place (aside from time spent with my family, of course) is the space between my two ears.  I enjoy the solitude of my own mind.  I have no problem being alone with my thoughts.  I like my thoughts.  I like to think.  I am, what I would describe as a "mull-er".  I like to chew things over in my mind; sorting them out, organizing the important pieces into useful information and then, deciding how best to act. Almost all creative types will understand when I say that I derive a great deal of satisfaction from being able to go "into the zone", as it were, in my mind. For me, the mind is a wonderful thing and creativity fuels my thoughts. The great thing about this for me, is that it doesn't just have to be my own creativity that fuels my thoughts, I can go to great places on the creative coattails of others.
     One such performer who helps to illuminate my happy place is British Columbia's own, Matthew Good.   Matt Good has been a fixture on the Canadian music scene for over two decades now; always hovering just below superstar status. Very well-respected as a singer and songwriter, Good has created some of the most distinctive and evocative songs in the Canadian musical canon.  His subject matter is often deeply personal. The characters he creates seem very real, as are their emotions and issues that he so aptly chronicles.  He is equally adept at rocking it out on stage or else, being quietly acoustic.  His voice is powerful and distinctive and is unique among all singers in our country.
     As much as Matt Good is creatively brilliant, it is his openness with mental illness that elevates him in my mind.  Suffering from anxiety attacks all throughout his career, Good has made a clear choice to avoid the trappings of fame.  He has won four Juno Awards for his work but has refused to appear on stage to accept any of them. He finds fame daunting and, because of this, his songs are infused with a delicate balance of strength and vulnerability. He is political and yet, reclusive.  He is outspoken yet, he shuns the spotlight. Good was officially diagnosed as being bi-polar several years ago.  For him, he felt the diagnosis was a relief because he now understood his own mind better.
     In this busy, rush-rush world of ours, I strive to find time to listen to Matt Good's music.  He helps fuel my thoughts and adds to the happiness of being in my own mind.  I do find it difficult to capture serene moments during the work week but,  I do make the effort to try. Each morning, after dropping my girls off at school, I have a ten-minute drive from their school to my school.  I use that time wisely.  I often play Matt Good.  In particular, I play a song called, Avalanche as I drive. By the time that song ends, I am usually more than half way to school and, often, I have no recollection of having made the drive.  One day, for sure, I am going to have an accident and, on the police report, they will put down as the cause of the accident, "lost in his happy place."

     The first time I became aware of Avalanche was while watching Hockey Night in Canada, during the Montreal Canadiens/Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Playoff series a few years ago. At the time, the C.B.C. had a habit of starting their broadcasts with a hockey/musical montage. These montages were created by a young man named Tim Thompson.  He is a storyteller, a historian, a hockey fan and a film-maker extraordinaire.  His great work introduced me to Matt Good's great work.  I have had several opportunities to talk to Thompson via Twitter.  He is a fine young man and a true Canadian talent in his own right.

    Let me end with a shout out to my friends, Erin and Jo-Anne! Here is our third and final performer of the day.......from The Rock, Newfoundland, Great Big Sea!  I was fortunate to be in the audience for a free concert by Great Big Sea in Peterborough a few years back.  They are very talented singers/songwriters, as well as, accomplished musicians.  Several times during that free concert, the boys sang acapella and did so with power and with range in their voices which were fine instruments for the occasion.
    Great Big Sea have built their reputation upon promoting the culture of Newfoundland through singing sea shanties and other songs associated with a life lived by the Sea.  As cultural ambassadors go, Great Big Sea have done a wonderful job of taking culturally-significant music and helping to popularize it on a national scale.  Sales of their records have reached gold or platinum status consistently over their careers. They are the winners of several Juno Awards, as well as, East Coast Music Awards, too.
     Here is what all the fuss is about!  Enjoy!

   Here is a big tip of the old hat to a long and illustrious list of talented performers whose name begins with a "G":
    80s Top 40 staple, The Grapes of Wrath and Glass Tiger, from my neck of the woods, Northumberland County's own, The Good Lovelies and Gentleman Husbands, Alt-pop stars of today, Gym Class Heroes, Noted pianist, Andre Gagnon, New Waver, B.B. Gabor, East coast stalwart, Lennie Gallant, a Star from NY to LA, Patsy Gallant, Modern day pop rockers, Hannah Georgas and Emm Gryner, Myles Goodwyn, lead singer of April Wine, Nick Gilder, 70s rocker, Oldies crooner Robert Goulet, 80s pop star, Gowan, Electronica singer, Alice Glass (of Crystal Castles), Techno/raver, Grimes, lead singer of Alexisonfire, City and Colour AND frequent duet partner with Pink, Dallas Green, of course, The Guess Who,  2013 Polaris Prize winners, Godspeed You!  Black Emperor, Modern folk/alternative band, Great Lake Swimmers, Maritime legend, Bruce Guthro and a regular at Gasworks in Toronto, Goddo!

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