Archive for the ‘Music’ category

Sarah vs. Sarah

June 24, 2010

Canada has no shortage of talented chanteuses.  I was interested to hear that both Sarah McLachlan and Sarah Harmer had recently released new albums and I had the sudden urge to pit them against one another.  So this is the Sarah vs. Sarah cage match.  Listen to both releases below and decide for yourself who will be Canada’s last Sarah standing.

Personally, I think Sarah McLachlan has the advantage here.  From her early contributions to Vancouver-based. elctro-industrial band Skinny Puppy, to her 90s fem-a-polooza Lilith Fair, McLachlan has certainly made her mark both in Canada and internationally.  She is also involved in many charitable causes including rights for animals.  She has no trouble getting support, resources, or talent to help her along.

Sarah Harmer, on the other hand, broke out with the fairly obscure Kingston band, Weeping Tile, but is best known for her solo work.  Her last four albums struck a chord with Ontarians but never really sounded outside of Canada.  Her activism is as passionate as McLachlan’s but perhaps on a less public scale.

At the risk of influencing your decision, I have to give it to Sarah Harmer.  Aside from the fact that I am a sucker for any underdog, I think that Harmer stretches further this time.  Perhaps McLachlan is catering to her established audience, but to me she is singing the same old, same old.  Harmer is pushing herself into a new realm and bravely experimenting.  I expect that I will hear many more tracks from Mclachlan’s new album, but I am looking forward to listening to more of Sarah Harmer.


How do you teach poetry?

June 13, 2010

Teaching poetry was probably the toughest gig I ever had.  How do you “teach” poetry?  You can’t.  You don’t.  You can talk about words and sounds and meaning . . . and you can read poems and discuss them, but after that you have to have faith that the way you have presented the material was interesting enough that the students begin to catch on.

When I was in grade ten, I decided that I should learn about poetry.  I walked into the school library, went over to the shelf labelled “Canadian Poetry” and randomly pulled out a book and flipped it open.  I looked down and read the first poem I saw, Leonard Cohen’s For Anne.

With Annie gone,
whose eyes to compare
with the morning sun?

Not that Idid compare,
But I do compare
Now that she’s gone.

I     was     hooked.  Then and there I became a reader (and soon a writer) of poetry.

As a teacher, I loved to have my students read John Ciardi‘s How a Poem Means – an essay which, although outdated and somewhat stuffy, clearly dispelled the myth of a poem as something to be deciphered and wrought of meaning.  I would also share with my students the poem, Ars Poetica by Archibald MacLeish and which contains the beautiful and educational lines, “A poem should not mean/But be”.

I guess I am always impressed with anyone who can comment on the nature of art within their own art.  This is probably why I was gobsmacked the first time I heard Tanya Davis’ song Art on the CBC Radio2 show Drive.  I can say that without a doubt these are the cleverest, most beautiful words I have heard uttered about art, the urge to produce it, and the hesitation to do so.

I was lucky enough to see Tanya perform last night at the tiny Silver Bean room by the shore of the Otonabee River in Peterborough.  I have never purchased a concert ticket before that has printed on it “14/30”.  That’s right, 30 seats.  Tanya Davis is a wonderful songwriter, storyteller and – yes – poet.  Listen.

A cool throwback

June 10, 2010

I love Motown music and discovering the NOISEttes has been great.  It’s hard to believe that they are a three piece outfit with the lead singer, Shingai Shoniwa, on bass.  Listen to their hit “I’ll Never Forget You” and try to tell me that we don’t desperately need a Motown revival.

Crazy good music

May 15, 2010

Ida Maria is a  great Norwegian singer and “Oh my God” is a crazy good song.  That’s all.  I just wanted to share.