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Tom Wilson (photo by David Wiewel)

A Conversation with Tom Wilson (continued)

PPM: I love this new record, Dog Years. It's absolutely great.

TW: I'm really pleased. Thank you.

PM: So many good songs, but I personally can't get enough of "I'm in Love With the System." That's a brilliant song.

TW: Yeah, I'm really pleased with it myself. [laughs] Who did I write that one with? I wrote that one with a guy from Hamilton, in fact. He's in a band called The Miniatures. But yeah, I love that song, too.

PM: Finlayson, Is that what it says?

TW: No. Josh Finlayson is a guy from the band the Skydiggers. The guy from The Miniatures is Ian Smith.

PM: I'm not up on the Skydiggers, I'm sorry to say.

TW: They're really fantastic.

PM: They are? Yeah, I got to get to them.

TW: One of the Skydiggers started a company called Maple Music here. You'd probably love the Skydiggers. They're like a modern-day Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era Byrds. But I do love that song "In Love With The System."  A lot of the songs on there, I think that I kind of hit a bit of a high point in a lot of my writing, just in the amount of writing that I did last year. Right after Blackie and the Rodeo Kings came off the road, I kind of threw myself into writing. I was thinking I was writing the next Blackie and the Rodeo Kings portion, my portion of that record, when in fact, I was writing, I guess, the next project that came up was the Dog Years.

PM: Right. But you had The Shack Recordings in the middle.

TW: And I had The Shack Recordings in the middle, yeah.

PM: Damn!

TW: And we're planning on doing another Shack Recordings, maybe in June. We've already started it.

PM:Dog Years was a very interesting release on the heels of the exceedingly more intimate Shack Recordings with Bob Lanois.

TW: Yeah. Well, I mean, whatever happened out at The Shack is something that I've been wanting to do for years, and I really couldn't find anybody in my circle of friends or in my business associates, with record companies and publishers, anybody who understood what I wanted to do.

PM: And how would you have voiced what you wanted to do?

TW: Well, I had to find somebody that I could tell, "Listen, I want a record that sounds almost like a field recording. Come into my kitchen, and what I'm doing at my kitchen table I want to end up on tape. And I want to be able do it on two-inch analog. I want an old Neve console, and I want a Studer tape machine. And I almost want the sound of the tape machine going on in the room when the music is going down. Instead of technology leading the way, I wanted it to kind of melt together with the creative performances, like it used to."

PM: Right.

TW: Like it did on John Wesley Harding.

PM: Exactly.

TW: Like it did on Led Zeppelin 1, and like it did on Sgt. Pepper, and like it did on Kind of Blue. That was the idea of technology really not leading the bull by the horns, but actually lending itself to the creative process.

PM: Right. Because any songwriter worth his salt knows that it's all about the kitchen table.

TW: That's right. And that's what I've always said, although--and I'm going to tell you something else that I'm not even going to--I pick up records by some of the favorite songwriters, and singers, and I often find them cluttered with information I don't need. People who are really genuinely fantastic songwriters and visionaries, that somebody decides that they got to try to get a hit, or they got to sound like something that's going on the radio at the time.

PM: Right.

TW: And I find it hugely disappointing all the time. I much prefer seeing somebody with an acoustic guitar playing me the song. The only guy I could find that understood what I was talking about was Bob Lanois. And he's been living in a shack since he worked with his brother, Daniel, on So, and The Unforgettable Fire, after that era he kind of dropped out and bought a piece of land in Waterdown, Ontario, on Snake Road, and has been living there for twenty-one years.

PM: Damn!

TW: So it's literally a shack in the woods. I don't know if you got the album...

PM: I did, and saw it pictured there, yeah.

TW: Yeah. And I'm going to tell you, also, that in the folk communities, it's funny--because for people, Frank, who don't listen to a lot of roots music/Americana, or acoustic music, and who know me from my old band, Junkhouse, and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, even, it's like, "Wow! What is this? This is so..." People really get turned on by it. But it seems that in the real diehard folk communities and roots communities in Canada, it just got completely snubbed.

PM: Really?

TW: It wasn't really accepted at all as a real [sighs]--as something that they wanted.

PM: Now, I thought somewhere, with somebody, it was called Record of the Year.

TW: Yeah, it was. And where was that?

PM: Beats the shit out of me. I couldn't find that out.

TW: You know what? In Europe, and other places, it's been hailed as a great roots recording, and something really important. Who knows, maybe my reputation preceded me, somewhat. And in Canada, which is an odd country to begin with, I think that I'm going to have to do The Shack Recordings, parts Two and Three, before anybody accepts it as a real venture.

PM: That's amazing, considering your reputation.

TW: Yeah, I know. It's also--you know, Canada eats its young. You know what I mean?

PM: Oh, it does?

TW: And I'm forty-six years old, so I guess they kind of gnaw away at the middle-aged, too. And they probably just kill the old.


PM: I didn't know they ate their young up there.

TW: Yeah, they eat their young pretty quickly. It's kind of a sad thing.

PM: That is messed up.

So how did the duet with Roseanne [Cash] come up? Is she an old friend?

TW: Well, I can't say she's an old friend, and I've only really met her a few times, really.

PM: She's nice, though, right?

TW: Oh, my God, she's just a truly lovely person.

PM: I don't know her personally, but mutual friends have always spoken very highly of her.

TW: I met her at a festival we did, and I think that she became a fan of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, and she really loved what I did. And I, of course, love what she does. And from there Colin Linden came up with the idea of the duet, and that's how it came about.

PM: Yeah.     continue

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