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February 26, 2016

We Oughta Know, by Andrea Warner

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The very first real concert I went to (i.e. not with my dad) was to see Sarah McLachlan on tour for Fumbling Toward Ecstasy, a CD I’d recently purchased from Columbia House for a penny. This was in grade nine, I think, 1993 or 1994, with my best friends Britt and Jennie. Britt’s dad drove us there, to the theatre in Lindsay, ON, where we were part of the amazing, intimate performance, and I saw a girl with dreadlocks who kind of looked like a boy, which left me flummoxed. There is a connection, I think, between having seen Sarah McLachlan, powerful and awesome at her piano, on the guitar, and that Britt and I would spend all of high school performing at talent shows and low-rent concerts playing pop covers on our acoustic guitars, singing in harmony. We really took it for granted, all those amazing women who articulated our feelings so well, whose lyrics we scrawled in our scrapbooks. It was the times we were living in. It seemed inevitable that we’d see Sarah McLachlan against six years later at a much larger venue, us sitting high up and far away on the grass, watching her perform with Sheryl Crow, Deborah Cox. I think the Dixie Chicks were there. Biff Naked on a side stage. Women in songs were in the ascendence. “Women in Songs” was the name of a popular CD series here in Canada in the last few years of the decade, and that the collections were feminist or even that these were women at all seemed to use kind of incidental as we drove down the main street in our town singing along with Natalie Imbruglia as she bared her heart with “Torn.”

We-Oughta-Know-Cover-300-AdjustedIn her book, We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the ’90s and Changed Canadian Music, Andrea Warner articulates that whole scene, and the remarkable fact that four Canadian women were leading the charge of women in song: Celine Dion, Sarah McLachlan, Shania Twain, and Alanis Morissette. These four women too are (along with Diana Krall) are the only Canadians on Canada’s best-selling artists lists, coming in above the Beatles. And even more remarkably, they all made their mark during a five year period in the mid-1990s. What was going on exactly, Warner wonders? How did they do it?

Dion, McLachlan, Twain and Morrisette are not musicians usually linked together, more often viewed in terms of their differences—the good girls and the bad ones, the authentic musicians versus the manufactured ones. Warner makes the interesting point that as a teenager, she regarded these women as she regarded the members of The Babysitters Club, definitive types, not allowing for complexity of character. Making assumptions: how could Dion with her entrepreneurial skills be a Feminist with all her love schlock, and the same with Twain and her bared midriffs? Exhibiting the same narrow-mindedness that led critics to be baffled by Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” (which, incidentally, was the only album my husband and I ended up with two copies of when our CD collections merged):

‘The sweetness of “Head Over Feet,” the sensitive sprawl of “Mary Jane,” and the quirky landscape of “Ironic” were baffling to the easily confused, particularly to those who were committed to painting Morissette as a screaming, seething ball of rage. How can she be angry but so gentle here? Well, how can you have both a right hand and a left hand? It’s simple, provided you’re not someone who hates women. People contain multitudes and women are people; therefore women contain multitudes.’

In her book, Warner takes us track by track through the albums that rocketed these women to stardom, and also examines her own feelings toward them and how coming to admire Dion and Twain for their talent and hard work is a part of her coming to terms with her own notions of feminism. She also takes inspiration from 90s music heroines and blends the personal in with her cultural analysis, discussing how her parents’ separation and own ideas of love and marriage influenced her perspective on Dion’s music, or how McLachlan’s devastating Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff (which I always used to put on when I was at my most angst-full, just to feed the pain) intersects with her grief around her father’s death. She also examines how these four women were regarded by the music industry, by the media, the sexism and stereotypes and the system that is set up so that women are unable to succeed, for example, the rule against playing two songs by women in a row on the radio, which is what galvanized Sarah McLachlan to start The Lilith Fair to show that women aren’t merely to be pitted against each other, but can stand together. Fascinating too to consider the stupid Lilith Fair backlash, that it was reverse sexism. I remember being gibed about “lesbians” by certain morons in my company at the time who knew I was going to the concert, as though most rock festivals are not enormous cockfests (which are distinct from “enormous-cock fests”)  and why don’t we ever talk about that?

Warner is a music critic for CBC Music and Exclaim, and a warm, engaging writer who celebrates the power of girls and women and their voices, and critiques the culture that made all this happen. An appendix in We Oughta Know includes a long list of other Canadian female acts who made their mark throughout the 1990s—Alannah Myles, Amanda Marshall, Jann Arden, and others—making clear that the four women spotlighted in her book are not merely some freak phenomena.

“The ’90s were a remarkable decade for girls like me, and ultimately, the woman we would become. When you come of age in a time when women have voices, take up space, are visible creators and entrepreneurs, it never dawns on you that silence is the rule and these women, your idols, are the exception.”

January 11, 2016

I think my spaceship knows which way to go…

I am not a David Bowie fan. I’ve never bought any of his albums, I only know his most popular songs, and the only David Bowie song I knew for the first decade of my life was “Dancing in the Street” with Mick Jagger; my parents were more Elton John people. The first time I heard “Under Pressure,” I thought it was Vanilla Ice, and I was nearly 20. So I’ve got no cred whatsoever (if you ever thought I did), but I’d be hard-pressed to think of a musician I’m not a fan of whose work has affected me more. This morning we heard that he had died, and I put on “Modern Love” so we could have a dance party in the living room. I played “Let’s Dance” for my dance-loving girls tonight. I’ve been humming “Space Oddity” all day, hearing those amazing harmonies. There was a time in my when everything had fallen apart, and I spent that period listening to that song over and over again, those lines resonating: “The stars look very different today.” And learning to have faith in my own direction: “And my spaceship seems to know which way to go.” Understanding so much what it was to be lonely and lost—no one can be wholly alone whilst listening to that song. And more recently, his song “Kooks” has meant a lot to me, since Elizabeth Mitchell covered it on her album, Blue Clouds (which I love so much—it also features the most gorgeous cover of Van Morrison’s “Everyone.”) We listened to this album all the time when I was pregnant with Iris, and it might have become part of her sonic DNA. “Kooks” is a song about waiting for a baby, and hoping that baby will take its chances on you: “Will you stay in a lovers’ story, if you stay, you won’t be sorry, cuz we believe in you…” And it includes the line that really is my parenting philosophy, particularly in regards to school: “And if the homework brings you down/ Then we’ll throw it on the fire./And take the car downtown.” (Listen to Elizabeth Mitchell’s cover here.)

April 9, 2015

Mix CD for the Road

We made a mix CD for our car journey. It was strange having to explain to someone what a mix-CD was. I didn’t even complicate matters by mentioning cassettes (and how you could tape over cassettes by putting masking tape over the tabs on the top edge—remember that?). We are pretty happy with how the track list turned out. We also have a giant ziplock full of candy, so we’re basically all set for days and days of travel. Wish me luck. Don’t remind me not to lose my passport this time though, or I will probably stop liking you.

Mary Ann and One Eyed Dan“, by Shovels and Rope
I Really Like You“, by Carly Rae Jepsen
Sailing“, by The Strumbellas
Dirty Paws“, by Of Monsters and Men
“Riding in My Car”, by Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower
“Chandelier”, by Sia
“Let It Go”, by Frozen
“Can You Get To That?”, by Mavis Staples
“Moonquake Lake”, by Sia (Annie Soundtrack)
“Alphabet Dub”, by Elizabeth Mitchell and You Are My Flower
“Happy”, by Jennifer Gasoi
“Twisting the Night Away”, by Sam Cooke
“Love is An Open Door”, by Frozen

See you on the other side! Of the ocean, that is.

February 10, 2014

Be the Mavis.

Things are busy here. In lieu of a post proper, I bring you Mavis Staples, whom Stuart and I had the great pleasure of seeing in concert on Friday night.

December 11, 2013

Do They Know It’s Christmas: A Personal History

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1.

In 1984, we got the Band Aid album for Christmas, a gift from my mother’s younger sister, my aunt. I was five. From that same aunt, my sister and my cousin received leg-warmers for their Cabbage Patch Dolls. I don’t remember what I got, but it was not the Cabbage Patch leg-warmers, and this was profoundly upsetting. I remember that when the Band Aid album was unwrapped, my older cousin (who would have been ten or eleven) was excited, and put it on the record player straight away. Being ten or eleven, he was hip to the ways of the world and its zeitgeist, just like my young aunt was. I thought them both impossibly cool, and decided the album was worth knowing about for their interest in it. I knew about the famine in Ethiopia, about what the singers were singing about.  I’d seen it on TV. But I have no recollection of my immediate impressions of the song itself. I was far too upset about the leg-warmers.

2.

Every Christmas for the next few years, I would spend a huge amount of time studying the album art for Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas”. The images were fascinating. On one side, ornate Victorian Christmas imagery, the kind that illustrates “The Night Before Christmas” or a Christmas card. This was juxtaposed with a photo of two African children with spindly limbs. I don’t know if the photos showed the children’s distended bellies or flies landing on their skin, but I’d seen enough television coverage to know all about it. The African children were in black and white, while the rest of the album was rich and red. This could perhaps be the beginning of my impression that Africa was a colourless place.

(Two decades later, I’d read What is the What by Dave Eggers, explore the website of the book’s subject, Valentino Achak Deng, and be so completely shocked by the greenery and colour in photos of his home village in Sudan. The Africa of my mind was an imaginary place. Where nothing ever grows, no rain or river flows. I suppose.)

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And then I would turn the album over. On the back was a photo of all the musicians who’d come together to make the record, assembled in rows like a school class photograph. This was interesting. Even more so was a copy of the image with just squiggly lined silhouettes of all the people in it, each silhouette marked with a number. The numbers corresponded to a list of the musicians, so that I could find out who was who. This was a curious matching game, a sort of passive paint-by-numbers too.

It was also a useful game because I didn’t know any of these musicians, except for Phil Collins (who looked kind of out of place) and Boy George , who I knew from “Karma Chameleon” and remembered because he was a man who liked to dress up like a girl. But I knew he was really a man though because he said so: “I am a man without conviction. I am a man who doesn’t know how to sell a contradiction.” Though looking back, he seems quite good at selling contradiction. It is possible that the lyrics to “Karma Chameleon” cannot be read wholly earnestly. This would not occur to me for many many years.

Here is another contradiction: In fact, Boy George didn’t even appear in the picture, which I only realize now when I double check. This is confusing. I swear he was there. I am remembering his image from the video I think. I guess he had somewhere else to be when the picture was taken..

And now I have gone off on a tangent, which is what usually happened when I stared at these images. I was obsessed with this album. I kept getting lost in it.

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Actually, Boy George would not have looked so out of place in this photo though. Many of the musicians in the photo were androgynous, men (I think?) with long hair and a few women with masculine faces. Perhaps this created the effect that there were more women than there actually were, though there are only a few. Curiously, the women are all lacking surnames. They are called Marilyn, Keren, Sarah and Siobhan. I have just Googled Marilyn, and he was actually a man called Peter, so there you go. Basically there were only women in the shot because they’d invited Bananarama, who introduced themselves on the b-side, the vowel in banana pronounced like “ah” which made the band name sound much less stupid than it was. I knew Bananarama because on my Mini Pops album was a recording of “Venus”.

There was one other woman in the photo and she was remarkable for a couple of reasons: she had two names (which were Jody Watley) and she was black. This latter point she had in common with the three men on the left-hand side of the group. Which made for 4 black people in total in the picture on the back of “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, but at least that was twice as many as were depicted on the front.

George Michael is in the picture, but I would not recognize him until “Faith” came out in 1989. There is someone called Midge in the picture too, which added to my speculation about Band Aid and gender, but he was definitely a bloke. The guy in the front with the sunglasses in his shirt–he was wearing dirty white socks. And Johnny Fingers–what kind of a name was Johnny Fingers? The world was a curious place.

3.

I love this song. Somehow it has become a classic, up there with “Feliz Navidad” by Boney M and any version of “Oh Holy Night”. I love the bells that ring a descending line right before the “Do they know it’s Christmas time at all,” lyric. I love the oomph of, “Here’s to you” and the oomphy echo of, “Raise a glass for everyone.” The rhyme of, “Underneath this burning sun” is so perfect. I love when Sting (because by now I know who Sting is) sings his name in the line he’s given. The drama behind a lyric like, “the clanging chimes of doom.” And Bono, oh, Bono. When you delivered your, “Well, tonight thank God it’s them…” line, the rest of your life story was written.

I love the juxtaposition of the song’s lyrics, as blatant as on the album’s cover. It is Christmas time and there’s no need to be afraid. We do indeed live in a world of plenty (or at least I do). I want to believe that it’s as simple as us and “the other ones.” That if we just pray for them and buy a rock and roll single, us and a ragtag bunch of scruffy pop-stars can right everything that’s wrong. It is Christmas time, and I totally want to throw my arms around the world.

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4.

If my bad taste is reflected in my terrible taste in pop music, you should probably know that I can’t get enough of charity singles. I watch the Band Aid video on Much Music, and I cry. Basically, put a pair of headphones on anyone and show me them singing passionately with their eyes shut, preferably when when shaking their fist emphatically. “There comes a time when we heed a certain call, when the world must stand together as one…” And there is nothing I love better than times like that. “Tears Are Not Enough,” “We Are the World,” even “That’s What Friends are For.” I can’t get enough of this stuff. If I think about this, it is probably because modern life is dulling and we’re desperate for feelings, even if the come from a can. I also like to kid myself that the world’s big problems have solutions (and that these might possibly begin with a bunch of guys with guitars putting on a show).

5.

There is a gradual awakening. This has a lot to do with geography. Africa is not a place where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow. I think about the Nile and the Congo, the latter of which is the deepest river in the world. I think about snow on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro (which, as you know, rises like Olympus above the Serengeti) and that it’s possible that there will be snow in Africa this Christmas after all. That even if they were using “Africa” as a synonym for “Ethiopia” in this song, the lyrics would be wrong. It was not that nothing ever grew in Ethiopia, but that was did grow was diverted from hungry people due to errant government policies.

6.

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It’s not just me who has affection for this song. Its catchy tune and inane (and factually incorrect) lyrics ring out through shopping malls across the land every Christmas time. In 1989, Band Aid 2 was recorded, featuring not only Kylie and Jason, but many other bands including Technotronic and Wet Wet Wet. The single in the UK outsold Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”. 2004 saw another rerecording, Band Aid 20, which had actual woman’s voices, including Sugababes, Rachel from S Club, Natasha Bedingfield and Dido. They were joined by Fran from Travis, Busted, Justin from The Darkness, The Thrills, Robbie Williams and Will Young–a whole host of musicians who’d been topping the charts in the UK during a time in which I’d lived there and listened to the radio incessantly. In the middle of the song, Dizzee Rascal raps. Everybody was showered, and nobody androgynous at all.

When Band Aid 20 came out, we were living in Japan. My friend bought me the single from the Tower Records on top of the FORUS shopping centre. We listened to it on Christmas Day while we drank vodka mixed with alcoholic orange juice. We hadn’t gotten the day off. The lyric, “Do they know it’s Christmas?,” has special resonance that year.

7.

It’s more than just a guilty pleasure. If it wasn’t, I could just stop, and placate those who slag off Bob Geldof and Bono for their rockstar refusal to live in real world. It all comes down to economic explanations, but then I’m just humming along. Because I’ve been listening to this song for 29 Christmases now, and it is as much a part of the season as Jesus, the Shepherds and the Wisemen, and I don’t really believe in that story either. You get old enough and realize that Christmas is a string of fictions. One of them is that pop music can shape and save the world. And yet. It has shaped and saved just as much as anything, I suppose. Certainly, this terrible, embarrassing song has shaped me.

November 20, 2013

CD GIVEAWAY! The Sounding Joy by Elizabeth Mitchell and Friends

sounding-joy-bannerI fell in love with Elizabeth Mitchell’s music when Harriet was a baby, and suddenly the whole world was a richer, sunnier place. Her music is the soundtrack to our family life, and I love that with her folk songs she gives us roots, but also keeps us rocking out to covers by Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Van Morrison. I love how she brought us Remy Charlip. “Alphabet Dub” on her You Are My Sunshine album is hands-down the best version of the ABCs ever.

Her latest is an album of Christmas songs, The Sounding Joy. And you can listen to a preview here, the song “Children, Go Where I Send Thee  (Little Bitty Baby: A Cumulative Song)”.

More about the album for Smithsonian Folkways:

Grammy-nominated recording artist Elizabeth Mitchell releases The Sounding Joy, ann exploration of Christmas and solstice songs from the American folk tradition.  Drawn almost exclusively from the often overlooked but deeply influential songbook of revered composer and anthologist Ruth Crawford Seeger, these songs evoke an era before mass media and the commercialization of Christmas, when sacred song, dance, contemplation, and gathering were prized above all else during the holiday season. Mitchell’s fifth album for Smithsonian Folkways, The Sounding Joy features husband Daniel Littleton, daughter Storey, and special guests Peggy Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Amy Helm, Aoife O’Donovan, Gail Ann Dorsey, Larry Campbell, Dan Zanes, and John Sebastian, among many other family, friends, and neighbors. This gorgeously reverent 24-song collection attempts to save these traditional American holiday songs from an “unmarked grave,” as Merchant puts it in her essay included in the liner notes.

 

Although the songs presented are specific to the Christian tradition, Mitchell’s husband Daniel Littleton cites the inclusive nature of the project, describing the assembly of musicians as an “ecumenical summit” of sorts, with participants of many religious and non-religious backgrounds coming together happily to bring the songs to life. Mitchell sums up the spirit of the album best in her notes: “However you and your loved ones celebrate the last month of the year, I hope it is filled with the sounds of joy.”

And even better than news of a brand new Elizabeth Mitchell album? Why, that Smithsonian Folkways has provided me with a CD copy to give away to one of you. If you leave a comment on this post by midnight November 30, I’ll include your name in a random draw to win the CD.

**Congrats to Suss. Thanks to all who entered. Hope you’ll get your own copies. It’s a really lovely album. 

January 16, 2013

On Elizabeth Mitchell, Blue Clouds, and storybook discovery…

blue_cloudsI discovered Elizabeth Mitchell a few months into Harriet’s life, and her music has been our family’s soundtrack ever since, the serenity of her voice making me a better mother and a happier person, her songs providing us all with a solid grounding in folk music, and their stories becoming the basis of so many of our own. And this year was a very good year to be an Elizabeth Mitchell fan–her album Little Seed came out in July and had the honour of not only being the soundtrack to our summer roadtrips (along with Carly Rae Jepsen), but was also nominated for a Grammy, and then Blue Clouds came out in October, and we managed to save it until Christmas, but we’ve been listening steadily ever since.

Blue Clouds is brilliant: a new version of “Froggie Went a Courtin'” that is Harriet’s favourite song on the album; my favourite track is her cover of Van Morrison’s “Everyone”; covers of David Bowie’s “Kooks”, Jimi Hendrix’ “May This Be Love”, Bill Withers’ “I Wish You Well”, “Blue Sky” by the Allman Brothers. We love new songs “Rollin’ Baby”, “Hop Up My Ladies”. And we love the song “Arm in Arm”, based on the verse by Remy Charlip: “Two octopuses got married and walked down the aisle, arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm in arm…”

arm-in-armI’d never heard of Remy Charlip before Blue Clouds, but his artwork graces the album and its liner notes, and a letter inside by Brian Selznick introduces him further: “If you don’t own any of Remy’s books, you owe it to yourself to find as many as you can.” Which is the kind of guidance I’m always happy to take, and so we’ve been borrowing Remy Charlip books from the library like gangbusters over the last couple of weeks. And we didn’t quite know what to do with them at first: they weren’t stories to be read as much as books to be used, to be engaged with. It turned out that only the first line of the “Arm in Arm” song was Charlip’s, the line all the text on a single page, and the whole Arm in Arm book is made up of similar wordplay, riddles, play and whimsy. Harriet is in love with Mother Mother I Feel Sick Call For the Doctor Quick Quick Quick, and also the cowboy story Little Old Big Beard and Big Young Little Beard. We brought home Thirteen from the library yesterday, and it blew our minds! So many stories in a single book, a book you’ll read over and over and never the same way twice.

I absolutely love art that takes you somewhere, and artists who collaborate. Getting to know Remy Charlip via Elizabeth Mitchell has been like getting to know a friend, and so when I discovered tonight via internet search that he’d died in August, both Stuart and I were oddly saddened. His work is so much the definition of life that it seems impossible that his own could be over, but then the books live on, and how they do, over and over and never the same way twice.

May 14, 2012

Oh come over here, kid we’ve got all these books to read

“Oh come over here, kid we’ve got all these books to read,
With the turtles and frogs, cats and dogs who civilize the centuries,
And in a world that’s angry, cruel and furious,
There’s this monkey who’s just curious,
Floating high above a park with bright balloons.”

From “I am the one who will remember everything” by Dar Williams, from her very wonderful new album In the Time of the Gods which I received for Mother’s Day, along with a new guitar tuner.

December 29, 2010

Comfort and Joy

One of the reasons I’ve had such a lovely holiday (which I’m still having, actually) is that I received India Knight’s new novel Comfort and Joy, freshly imported from the UK. A fortunate thing, because it’s a Christmas book, and it would have been strange to read it in April or October, but to spend Christmas and Boxing Days stuck between its covers was absolutely perfect. Not least of all because its covers are so lovely– designed by Leanne Shapton of Important Artifacts… fame. And oh golly, those endpapers with sprigs of holly. Of course the story too, and I love all of India Knight’s work, and how she channels Nancy Mitford, comic fiction at its finest, her self-conscious send-up of the English middle class, and that her novels read like her newspaper columns but all spliced together. Referencing Barbara Pym on one page, and Grant Mitchell on another, and I’m not sure the world gets more perfect than that. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.

I received a few other books for Christmas (Started Early, Took My Dog, The Torontonians, Pleased to Meet You) but I’m saving these for the New Year. In the meantime, I am reading up the unread books on my shelf that are unpressing and therefore I might never get around to reading ever. And this has been a most rewarding experience– it’s why I read Our Spoons Came From Woolworths, and then Andrew Pyper’s amazing Lost Girls, Almost Japanese by Sarah Sheard, and Touch the Dragon by Karen Connelly. I’m now reading The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen, which I’ve been putting off and putting off, because although I enjoyed The House in Paris last Fall, I also remember that it was difficult and sometimes frustratingly abstruse. Once I’ve conquered it, however, I am going to attempt to read a little-known work called The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. But then again, maybe I won’t.

In picture book news, we gave Harriet We Are In a Book (An Elephant and Piggie Book by Mo Willems), The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My by Tove Jansson, and The Owl and the Pussycat. My life is now officially complete, because a friend gave us The Jolly Postman. Other amazing books include The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, the terrifyingly wonderful Mixed Beasts by Kenyon Cox, and But No Elephants by Jerry Smath.

Our days have been a mix of a whole lot of nothing and a whole lot of everything, friends, togetherness, and copious amounts of chocolate. We are infinitely grateful that Stuart now works in an office that closes for the holidays, as everything is better when he is around, and he’s around all the time. We are also very much listening to the CDs received in our family for Christmas: Dar Williams’ Many Great Companions, The Essential Paul Simon, and Elizabeth Mitchell Sunny Day. Each one is very, very good.

January 16, 2010

Clearest, starkest brilliance #1: When Randy Bachman held my heart

Harriet is pictured here in her very early days, back when a moment of daytime peace was worth a photo for posterity. But lately, actually, I’ve been thinking of a certain moment of nighttime peace, when Harriet was about five days old.

For the first few weeks of her life (how long exactly doesn’t matter, suffice it to say, it was an eternity), we had to wake her every three hours for feeding, as she’d not yet returned to her birthweight. (This was when I was reading Tom’s Midnight Garden and “Only the clock was left, but the clock was always there, time in, time out.”) And once the alarm went off, we’d leave the radio playing while we fed her, and so we discovered that CBC at night subscribes to programs by other public broadcasters. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation at 1:00am, and 4:00am would be Swedish, and something uptight and BBC close to the morning.

This one night in particular was not so late, however, and I remember waking up to Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap. So there we were, up with our baby daughter in this weird, wide world that was the size of our bedroom’s four walls and we hadn’t thought outside of it in five whole days, which might have been a lifetime (and they were). So that, in effect, Randy Bachman was coming at us from the farthest reaches of outer space.

Fittingly, his show that night had a stars and planets theme, and Canada felt very small as Randy’s wife Denise introduced the next track, by Randy’s son Tal. Surprisingly, it was not “She’s So High”, and Denise reported that she’d always felt so envious of Tal’s talent. And then after that they played music that wasn’t by anyone related to Randy Bachman, which I think was “Blue Moon”(and according to the program log, I’m remembering this in the wrong order, but that doesn’t change the way it was). They played “Good Morning Starshine”, and we marvelled at the lyric “Gliddy glub gloopy, Nibby nabby noopy, La la la lo lo.” It was midnight, but it might as well have been the middle of the night, and the baby was sucking sustenance out of a tube stuck to my husband’s finger, but anyway, we were happy.

But no more so than when they played “Little Star” by the Elegants. Our own peculiar lullaby, to which we found ourselves relaxing for the first time in days. Twinkle, twinkle to a doo-wop beat, and the moment was so beautiful, it shone. We were a family. And I wouldn’t take back any of the awfulness of those early days, if I had to give that song back with it, and what it was like to be listening, and finally not anxious, and to be connected, in touch with a calm, blissful world.

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