These are the five songwriters who I feel have had the greatest influence on my work, whether in the form of inspiration or of technical ideas. If you like my songs - or even if you don’t, for that matter - I encourage you to spend some time exploring these links. Your time will be well rewarded.
- Lived in Hamilton, Ontario, and had family ties to Nova Scotia; died in 1983
- See a biography on stanrogers.net
- Stan had a great gift for singable and memorable melodies, and for capturing the essence of a character or a situation in a telling detail
- Several of his songs are on Youtube, for example: Northwest Passage, The Mary Ellen Carter , Field Behind the Plow, The Idiot, and Bluenose.
“Well it’s not the hours of watch on watch
And it’s not the work that I mind so much
Or the long cold miles from my lover’s touch
Though for sure she’s far away.
No stranger I to the touch of steel
Or the honest fear any man can feel
But I long for dust under my heels, and a pocket full of pay
So I’ll take it from day to day.”
...Take It From Day to Day
- Lives in Dallas, Texas; does a lot of writing about the Civil War and Irish immigrants
- His official website is jedmarum.com; he also has a Youtube channel here.
- Beautiful voice and guitar playing, beautiful poetry in his lyrics, and a clear dedication to researching and understanding his characters
- It was Jed’s first CD, Streets of Fall River, that inspired me to start writing historical songs
“When the battle is done, victory is won
And my soldiering days are all through
If the good Lord declared that I should be spared
I’ll return to New Bedford and you.
Cause I’m leaving in the morning light
With those Massachusetts boys
Fare thee well, my old Acushnett River home
Fare thee well, my sweet Ellen Joyce.”
...Sweet Ellen Joyce
- Died in 2008; his name was Bruce, but was nicknamed Utah because he spent most of his life there.
- A tribute site is The Long Memory; Youtube has some songs including Miner's Lullaby, All Used Up, Orphan Train, and Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia.
- I admire Utah for his ability to tell stories in a manner that is stark and simple yet compelling, and to make the political points he wishes to make without preachiness or vagueness.
“We bought watches, we bought cameras
We bought whores, and we bought booze
With the little barefoot beggars
Bending down to shine our shoes
We gave them back our candy
And to answer our desire
We gave them round-eyed babies
Who died outside the wire.”
- Lives in Guelph, Ontario, and is a very prolific writer who deals with a lot of Canadian stories
- See his website at jamesgordon.ca; you will find some MP3s and lyrics there; one of his most popular songs is up on Youtube, Frozen in Frobisher Bay.
- James has a great sense of craftsmanship in composing harmonies and finding internal and unexpected rhymes
“Oh the whispering wheels and the wind at his heels
Would often fool him into thinking he was getting somewhere
But if he stopped to look behind him he usually would find
There wasn’t really any difference between here and there.
Somehow every year about this time he starts to spend
All his days in wondering where the hell the last one went
Maybe he’ll find out listening to that cold Saskatchewan wind whining
Like some lonesome cowboy’s lament.”
...Lonesome Cowboy’s Lament
- Lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia
- His website is www.members.shaw.ca/billgallaher/
- There are a few songs up on Youtube such as Augustus and Catherine.
- Bill tells stories from across Canada with vivid imagery and strong melodies; he has a particular focus on labour history.
“There were no better times than these
The great adventure had begun
And I signed up for overseas
So I wouldn’t miss out on the fun
My mother wept and waved goodbye
She knew so much more than her son
Hush now mother, don’t you cry
I’ll be home when Christmas comes.”
...1914 (The Grand Illusion)