We have started a contest on Facebook in which you can win two tickets to an upcoming show of your choice by simply entering your email. You need to be a Facebook member in order to enter. Just go to the Cowboy Junkies page on Facebook and click on the “Nomad Tour 2012 Tour” tab on the left hand side of the page. Good luck and we hope to see you soon.
Also, we will be starting pre-orders for The Wilderness on February 23rd. In celebration of releasing the final volume of the series we will be having a one day listening party. We will posting the album here on the 23rd, so stop on by for an hour and take a listen.
Last Spring a long time friend of the band, John Bottomley, a fellow musician, died unexpectedly (as they euphemistically say in the obituaries these days). John had been living on Vancouver Island for many years. He had fallen in love with the mountains, the rivers and the trees, but, I guess, had fallen out of love with life. At his funeral his mother lamented the fact that John had settled out west, if only he had been living closer to home, back in Ontario, closer to his family and friends, closer to his roots, if only….
Unanswered Letter was the last song that I wrote for The Wilderness and the last song that I wrote for The Nomad Series. It was a few days after John’s funeral and I headed up to Margo’s farm to try and finish off a few songs: a beautiful spring weekend, with all of the streams and rivers roaring and the spring migration gathering steam (not unlike the weekend weather that had inspired the song Good Friday fifteen years earlier). As I sat beside the river that flows across Margo’s property I thought about John and tried to imagine a state of mind in which even the chatter of a returning red-wing blackbird, a harbinger in these parts of warmer, brighter, easier days to come, could be interpreted as a mocking, insulting cry, “I am home and you are not”.
After Pete, Al, Margo and I had worked up a bedtrack for the song I sent it out to Joby Baker in Victoria, to see where his imagination and talent would take the song. Joby had worked with John on his last album, but I didn’t tell Joby what or who the song was about. What I got back was completely unexpected; an eerie, haunted backing track of bowed bass and ghostly vocals. What was most unexpected was that the song now sounded like a John Bottomley song….the mystery of the creative process: it keeps some of us going, until it doesn’t.
Here is the demo that I wrote and recorded that beautiful Spring day:
Her heart torn open
and left like an unanswered letter.
Words were not spoken
just left in a spidery scrawl.
Twisted and gutted,
the last of the smoke in the air.
She gets up to leave
and idly fixes her hair.
Words from home, words from home.
What we miss are words from home.
I lost my heart
I left it alongside the river.
That blackbird clucking
songs he knows nothing about.
That bird returning
to a home that makes him sing out.
Words from home, words from home.
What we need are words from home.
We will be having a listening party for The Wilderness on the site on February 23rd (which is the day that we will also start pre-orders for the album). Stop by and give the album a listen.
I began work on many of the songs that found their way onto The Wilderness in late 2007/ early 2008, (months before my family and I took off for China, the trip that would inspire Renmin Park, the album that would kick off The Nomad Series). Some friends of mine had graciously given me the use of their writers retreat: an old crumbling cottage perched high upon the Niagara Escarpment about one hour north of Toronto. I spent several days a month, over the course of that winter, huddled by the enormous woodstove, watching the snow drift and the birds come into the feeders, plunking away on my J200, trying to figure out what direction our next album should take. Some of these songs made it as far as the concert stage, and throughout the Spring and Summer of 2008 we performed them on tour. But I could never get a handle on the collection of songs that was beginning to emerge. They never felt part of a single “piece”; I couldn’t figure out what tied them all together and therefore had no direction to chase them and without a direction it seemed pointless to try and form them into a defined collection of songs. But then my trip to China intervened and with that came a whole set of new ideas and the preliminary concept for the Nomad Series. From the outset it was decided that many of the songs that we had been working on before China, would be held on to until Volume 4. We figured that with the luxury of time and distance we would be able to get some perspective on these songs, so we put them away.
Sure enough, time and distance did the trick, but so did the chance coupling of this set of songs and Enrique’s winterscape that graces the album cover. The Wilderness which I had originally chosen as a “place holder” while we mocked up the cover, became the perfect title. Enrique’s painting became the physical manifestation of these songs, this is what these songs “looked” like. And the title, The Wilderness, in some odd way seemed to define what these songs were actually “about”: fragility, emptiness, loneliness, beauty, loss, desperation, the delicate balancing act that makes up a life. They are about being lost in the wilderness of age, the wilderness of parenthood, in the wilderness of just trying to find meaning and substance, happiness and truth in ones day to day life. They are about standing alone in middle of it all, breathing in the cold still air and wondering.
Fairytale is one of the first songs that I wrote for The Wilderness. Here is my demo for it. (The Wilderness will be for sale from our site starting February 23rd)
It’s nice to sell what one creates and to get some lucre for ones efforts, but when it comes right down to it the most satisfying reward is when someone tells you that your work inspired their work.We got the following email the other day…take a look, its well worth the 4 minutes….
I was listening to an interview on NPR featuring you and your song, “I Cannot Sit Sadly By Your Side.” I was so moved by the passion, heart, story, musicality, and vocal talents featured in this song, that I was inspired to create a dance piece for it. I wanted to thank you for the music and send you a link to the final product.