Everything Rises But Matzah
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Bobby Bare - "Everybody's Talkin'"

Lately, in my song selection and writing, I’ve been guided by the many convergences I see in music, my experience of music, and my life outside of music. I don’t think of these convergences as significant teleological phenomena, but as ways of organizing my thoughts and writing. Or, in other words, I’m in the mood for anecdotes.

Sometimes you want to be presented with an enormous platter of raw beef, rice noodles and egg noodles, onions, mushrooms, spinach, and cabbage. Other times you want a hot cooker to be placed in front of you, greased up with pork fat and filled with a broth of sweet soya sauce. Still other times you desire nothing more than to dip your food into a bowl of raw egg and then roll it around in sticky rice. When all of these desires converge, I suggest that you go to a Japanese restaurant and order sukiyaki. I think you’ll find it satisfying on all accounts, including gastronomico-aesthetic ones not mentioned above.

Last night was one of those nights for me, and, following my own sage advice, I sought some sukuyaki at Sakora. Once there, guess who I saw dining with a friend? That’s right: Sacha Trudeau. Sacha is filmmaker, a writer, and the son of former Prime-Minister Pierre Trudeau.

My first experience with Sacha was a surreal one. It was the summer of 2001 and I was working at the Human Resources Department of the federal government. I wasn’t doing anything wrong, just minding my own business, when my boss’ boss’ boss’ secretary approached me and told me that Sacha Trudeau was on the phone waiting for me. This was unexpected to say the least. What did he want to speak to me about? Perhaps Doctorow’s Ragtime, I mistakenly conjectured. I’ve always liked that book, and thought that he probably did too (doesn’t everybody?). I figured he had probably heard of my considerable interpretive skill and far-reaching knowledge of American cultural history, and wanted to “get my take on it.” But no, what he actually wanted to talk to me about was real-estate: apparently, he’d found for me an unbelievably affordable two bedroom apartment in Mile End. We exchanged pleasantries, he told me about the apartment, I thanked him and said goodbye. Unanswered questions persisted. I wondered if he did this for everybody – a sort of year-round realty Santa.

Eventually it came out that the surprise call was the result of the backroom machinations of another Santa: the Real Santa. I met the Real Santa (Steve, he humbly prefers to be called) when I told my boss’ boss’ boss that my band was recording an album.

“Oh, well, you have to meet Steve,” she said of her friend and coworker.

I didn’t know why I had to meet Steve and was, frankly, extremely skeptical about how imperative it was that I do. It turned out that she was right. In fact, it’s probably true that everyone has to meet Steve. For one thing, Steve owns an island. He’s not a rich man, but he owns an island. In addition, he’s fond of telling a story the moral of which is “keep your mouth shut when riding a motorcycle,” the subject of which is the time he swallowed a whole bat. The veracity of the story, I’ve been told, was once challenged by Steve’s good friend Sacha Trudeau; whereupon, Steve proved, analytically, that the story was 100% true. (I haven’t seen the proof but apparently it follows directly from Russell’s (1872-1970) Paradox). He is also – and this is the reason I had to meet him – a lover, collector, and maintainer of vintage music gear. Over the years, he has sold me many guitars and amplifiers for unreasonably low prices, including the only person who truly understands me - my 1961 Gretsch Country Gentleman - for a pittance. He is an extraordinarily generous man. When I told him that I was looking for a place in Montreal for September, he told his best Montreal friend to try to find a place for me.

I can at times - as Sean and Dan can attest to - be something of an absent, or at least foul-weather, friend. Since I stopped going back to Ottawa for the summers I’ve lost touch with Steve. The last contact I had with him was an email I received on my twenty-third birthday (I’m now 63) whose subject was “ukulele” (he gave me one, via my parents, as a birthday gift), which stated simply:

“Everybody's Talkin'
Fred Neil

Everybody's talkin' at me
I don't hear a word they're sayin'
C7 F
Only the echos of my mind
People stop and stare
I can't see their faces
C7 F
Only the shadows of their eyes
Gm7 C7
Chorus: I'm goin' where the sun keeps shinin'
F Cm7 F7 Gm7
through the pourin' rain
C7 F F7
Goin' where the weather suits my clothes
Gm7 C7
Bankin' off of the northeast wind
F F7
Sailin' on a summer breeze
Bb C7 F
Skippin' over the ocean like a stone

C7 F
And, I won't let you leave my love behind
C7 F
No, I won't let you leave my love behind
C7 F
And, I won't let you leave my love behind”

No explanation or nothin. And I haven’t heard from him since.

His email renders me kind of superfluous here, but I can say this:

Bobby Bare’s version is like a Robert Altman film. Everybody’s talkin’ at the same time - we pan across the band, each part of the conversation moving into focus briefly, and then falling to the background. [Buy]


Shotgun and Jaybird - "For The Kids"

This song is a tiny Marc Chagall (1887-1985) painting. It’s a ukulele in a barbershop. A barbershop in a storm. A thick bolt of muted yellow lightning (the electric guitar) bisects the corner of the canvas. [Info]

Posted by Jordan at April 13, 2006 2:22 AM

Shotgun and Jaybird live in my town. They drink lots of coffee, work at the bar, and practice in the old foundry. There's an old man who still works there, his face all creased with coal dust. He looks like he walked out of the 1890's. One night a friend and I left a midnight Shotgun and Jaybird show next door at George's Roadhouse (and across the street from the train station) for an adventure at the (supposedly abandoned) half of the foundry. The old man welcomed us in and gave us a tour. The antiquated trolleys and tools were as dusty as he was. When we left, we said, "see you later", to which he replied, "maybe you'll see me later, maybe you'll never see me again."

Posted by Danica at April 13, 2006 8:39 AM

You got an email from Steve on your 23rd birthday, and your now 63?

That's nothin'... yesterday, I got a call on my cell phone from Abraham Lincoln. I helped him with the wording on an address he was about to give in Pennsylvania. I wonder how that ever turned out...and more importantly...How did he get my cell phone number? I hardly ever give it out.

Posted by G-Dub at April 13, 2006 10:13 AM


Posted by Anonymous at April 13, 2006 12:02 PM

But Danica, did you ever see him again?

Posted by Tuwa at April 13, 2006 12:14 PM

jordan, you write like a worn-out novelist... whatever that means.

Posted by jerimee at April 13, 2006 4:31 PM

Danica - He was right about that (logically).

G-Dub - I like your illogical, anachronistic style.

Anonymous - I thought that I might be roughly on to something, but I'm delighted that you felt that I was precisely right.

Tuwa - Actually, I have nothing to say to you. Hi.

Jerimee - At least "worn-out novelist" puts me in good company. I feel like you intended that as a compliment, so thank you.

Posted by Jordan at April 14, 2006 5:12 AM

actually, considering the population of this town is less than 5000, the chances are quite high- but no, I never have seen him again. Which makes sense, considering he's most likely a ghost.

Posted by Danica at April 14, 2006 8:50 AM

a) Do you really have a Gentleman?
b) Is this Steve guy real?
c) If so, I want to buy his shit. (Feel free to spin that.)

Posted by tyler at April 14, 2006 6:44 PM

Tyler - I have a Gentleman, Steve is real, and I'll email him to see if he's still selling stuff.

Posted by Jordan at April 14, 2006 7:03 PM

When I try to open "everybody's talking" I just get the quicktime logo with a big question mark across it... what gives?

Posted by D. at April 17, 2006 9:48 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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