THERE ARE MORNINGS when I need some comfort right from the
get go. I wake up, with the sun (hopefully) streaming in and I feel alone. Even
when I'm surrounded by my girls and my love and the possessions that make up my
life, I don't know where I'm bound, and I don't remember where I've been. Most
of the time when I feel this way, I do what I've always done - I put on a
record. I let the room warm up in its melodies, I let myself be still. And like
a drug that takes a few minutes to work, by the third song, I'm not alone
anymore. I remember where I came from, and even have a little bit of a clue as
to where I'm going.
This Sunday past, when I felt this lonely feeling, I put on "Reckon," the new album by a man I know (and kind of idolize, but don't tell him that) called Jason Collett. Yeah, you probably know him too. If you've loved Canadian music for the last twenty years of your life, or even if you're only twenty yourself, you've probably heard him sing to you; you might have seen him keeping the Broken Social Scene in line with nothing more than a stomping foot and an acoustic guitar.
You might have seen him seducing a crowd with his songs in little clubs and big arenas and every other goddamn size of room in between all over Canada, all over the world. You might know him from your neighbourhood; he's the handsome one who always seems to have a kid with him. He's the one who shows up, who takes care, who helps out. Yeah, I told you you know him?
Anyway. Woke up. Stood up. Couldn't find my place. And so I listened to "Reckon." And all I can tell you is that by the end of it, I had remembered all kinds of things that mattered to me, and I felt better. I remembered how much I love melody. Jason has a way of finding them so easily, like shells on the beach. but he doesn't polish them up; he leaves the brine and the sand on there, which only serves to reveal the beauty of those patterns going on underneath, the texture and colour of something hidden and therefore made more beautiful.
I remembered that I live in a big empty country, a place where stories wrapped in songs have always been a way for this vast place called "Canada" (kind of a shitty name for a country, but anyway) to seem smaller somehow. Mitchell, Young, Cohen, Cockburn, Collett... we've always been good at this kind of music - music about you, about the things that have happened and the places you hope to go. Jason knows that if you want to travel this country from one end to the other, you better have a story in your pocket, and the bravery to tell it. And while nobody minds if you stretch the truth a little, it better have some truth in its heart.
I remembered little things too, like if you're gonna make a record, it's ALWAYS a good idea to get some strings on there. There's something about that febrile sound of a bow across a string that makes you more aware of the miracle of harmony. Strings are all over "Reckon"; guitar strings, violin strings, and lyrical ones; patterns and themes and ideas that stretch out and pull you in, make you feel like your listening to a teacher and a jester, and make you feel, yeah, less alone. Somebody gets it. And he's singing it for you.