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Anywhere and here

I’m back home right now, for whatever that’s worth. Back at the house I grew up in; my dad’s house. The place I told him a thousand times to sell, if he wanted to move somewhere that felt better for him. The place I told him was only a house to me while he was alive, and now, it’s a place that feels…

I’ve been here alone for the last week. This is the longest I’ve been by myself in this place since my dad passed. I’ve had friends and family allow me to stay with them, or stay with me – but now I’m here, trying to figure it all out, alone. There’s something I appreciate about that, something I feel like a necessary burden – but at the same time, it’s such a struggle and I really don’t ever know if what I’m doing is the right step or completely in the wrong direction.

Since I’ve been here I’ve repaired the washing machine, taken things to be donated and recycled, looked after the lawn, checked in on family, attended to legal matters and heck knows what else. Tomorrow I’m going to work on fixing dad’s truck with his best friend (fingers crossed I diagnosed the repair correctly), then sorting out more paperwork for dad.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here – a week or two, for sure – but I’m hoping at some point I can make a day to simply relax, unwind and appreciate the gifts, blessings and practical jokes my dad has left for me. Until then, I’ll be pressing on, trying to make sense of it all.

Strong shoulders, strong will. Come visit.

Well, frak.

It’s never ending. The hospital dad is at for his stroke rehab called me again this morning, because he’s being difficult, uncooperative and even more grumpy than usual, again. He doesn’t want to do the rehab, doesn’t want to do the work, doesn’t want to help himself. All he wants to do is lay in bed and have the nursing staff help him with everything.

Today, he yelled at me again because sitting in a chair for 5 minutes was bothering him and he wanted to lay down. I reminded him that he can’t lay down his whole life, and that he needs to teach himself a way that he can sit in a chair, or stand up that doesn’t bother him. More yelling. When he finished that, he asked me to come help him, again.

I can’t.

I am beyond burnt out after spending 3 months in my old home town looking after him and our family. I’m broke after not being able to work much during that time; AND, the icing on this caca-cake, I’m still dealing with whiplash and concussion symptoms from the car crash. I asked him, what does he expect me to do if I came out there? He said I could help him, I could push him to recover.


I’ve told him, he needs to push himself. I can’t be there all the time. He needs to do this for himself, and he won’t. The staff at his hospital have been incredible; patient beyond belief with him. They explained to me that he’s dealing with a brain injury because of how his stroke affected him, and that this isn’t necessarily him right now. Knowing that made it a bit easier to process, but also a bit harder for me, too.

I’m going to try working out again today. Not going to push myself, but I need to move some iron – even if it’s only an iron feather. Ordinarily, if I need to de-stress or think, my go-to is working out, driving, or talking with my dad. None of those are an option right now.

The rest of today will be better. I’ll make it happen.

Discussing the best Canadian songs for Canada 150 promos and it really struck me how lucky I’ve been to be involved with the Canadian music industry in some form or other since 2003. Everything from slingin’ CDs to managing in-store appearances and taking fans backstage to meet their favourite artists, to today with my work representing radio stations all across the country.

I look back at my first time meeting a professional musician; when I happened to meet Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar as he walked down the streets of Kamloops the day of his show, and I was blown away (mostly because he is one VERY tall gentleman, but also because hey, he’s a rock star!). Today, I’ve met more artists than I can count, and it’s still an honour, every single time. These people put in the time, blood sweat and hustle to chase their dreams and make it happen. How can you not be excited by that?

I think of the people I’ve been able to work with and the friends I’ve been able to make along the way. When I first got promoted to Creative Director for a music store, moved to Calgary and on one of my first days on the job got taken into the boardroom of Universal Music. Across the table from me were the Senior Director (Terry) and the Director of Marketing, Tim. Immediately, Terry smiled at me and said “Oh, you’re Jason! I like your work!” Not joking in the slightest, I looked behind me to see if there was another Jason in the room because how could these two industry titans know who I was or my work?

I’m grateful for the people I met working together in our stores, for the office staff, the media partners – it’s all been incredible. Going for lunch with some of the top radio personalities in the country and having them appreciate my work, and invite me on their shows (note to self: next time, don’t be an idiot – GO). I’m grateful for the super grumpy and strict president of the record store that took a chance and hired me – and taught me probably more than I’ll ever truly realize. He spent a lot of time after hours to teach me, about the industry, about life, about being a professional. He demanded a lot, gave a lot, and I owe him a lot. Thanks, Mike.

I’m grateful for all the advance copies of albums, for the concerts and the stories you get to hear and experience by being in the industry. I’m grateful for the Junos, The CCMAs, the conferences and liquid lunches (that are apparently mandatory, but no one is complaining).

Mostly though, I’m still grateful and honoured that I am able to work with, and contribute my own creativity to this industry. I’ve created 6’ tall posters for some of the biggest bands in the world. Newspaper ads, radio commercials – my words! On the radio! As a kid growing up I would turn on the shortwave radio that my grandpa had given me, tune into a random radio station from somewhere in the world (One night I got a station from Germany and thought it was the greatest thing ever), and fall asleep. Ever since then I’ve been in love with the idea of radio. I’ve been tasked with creating and managing hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising budgets; with organizing security for international superstars (who decided they didn’t want or need security and did everything their own way anyway), and with tracking down a CD for someone that needed the perfect gift for a loved one.

I get paid to be creative. I get paid to work with an industry that still astounds me to this day – and from all of this, I’ve been able to start my own company and continue working with not only the music industry, but sports teams, coffee shops, manufacturers, food stores and farmers markets….

The Canadian music industry has given me a lot, and for that, I say thank you.

A few of my favs, in no particular order:
Sarah Slean – Sweet Ones
I fell head over heels for this song the second I heard it. It’s fun, it’s wistful, it always takes my mind on the sweetest daydream. Sarah’s been my unofficial Musical Muse ever since.

Moist – Silver
A friend had met David Usher about a year before their album broke, and he gave her an advance copy of Silver on cassette. It was incredible to hear them suddenly blowing up across Canadian radio. I met David several years ago and he was gracious enough to take a few minutes out of his sound check to come chat and say hello.

Matthew Good – Us Remains Impossible
Yeah, I’ve heard the stories about Matt. Don’t care. He’s an incredible artist, and amazing musician. Was finally able to meet him at the Junos last year and he was incredibly nice. This song is beautiful.

Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows
What could I add that’s not been said about the legendary Leonard Cohen? A master. I first got introduced to this track on the movie Pump Up The Volume (again adding to my infatuation with radio)

Hawksley Workman – We Will Still Need A Song
Damn this album. Seriously. I probably put a few thousand kilometres on the Talon by putting this CD in and getting lost in daydreams. It also inspired a few nights out with “poetic” tributes to whiskey.

Blue Rodeo – Lost together
Good lord, this song is perfection.

The Tragically Hip – Courage
I wish I could say I was a Hip fan from the start. I wasn’t. All my friends were, and they had Road Apples and Day For Night and Trouble at the Henhouse and while I dug the music, I didn’t really get into it. That changed on my 19th birthday, when my gentlemen friends took me to a strip club (because we were all classy AF), and a nice young lady performed a dance in a tub of jello (the stuff you can’t make up), to the song Courage. I honestly remember, sitting in the crowd and thinking “I get it now. I love this song!”
I bought at least 3 Hip albums the next day.

54-40 – Crossing A Canyon
My first “real” concert was 54-40 with Hootie and the Blowfish. I met Darius Rucker in 2007 and he still remembers that show and the blizzard roaring outside. This track is pure summertime to me.

Thornley – Make Believe
I frickin’ love Ian Thornley’s voice. You might know him better from Big Wreck. One of my first shows when I moved to Calgary was seeing Thornley in a seedy dive bar, and it was like that old Maxell ad where the guy is getting blown away by his speaker – I could literally feel my clothes being pushed back from the insane wall of sound this band was putting out. There’s a lot of songs from either Big Wreck or Thornley I could have chosen, but this track is a wonderful summertime cruiser.

Barenaked Ladies – Old Apartment
Oh, the memories. And who can’t relate to a track like this?

Big Sugar – All Hell For A Basement
An absolute banger. And that tall drink of water can wail on the guitar like no one else. (What’s “All hell for a basement” mean? Look it up!)

Bif Naked – Daddy’s Getting Married
A beautiful tune from one of the sweetest ladies in Canada.

Spirit of the West – Home For A Rest
It’s impossible not to sing along and dance to this. A classic.

Great Big Sea – Mari-Mac
Too many songs to choose from, but this is one of their most fun to try and sing along with. If you ever get the chance to see GBS in concert, go. Your hands will be sore from clapping.

The Motorleague – All The Words
This band’s label sent me one of their singles right before they came through my town on tour. Took a chance to check them out and got blown away. Fantastic rock n roll.

Theory of a Deadman – Say Goodbye
A fantastic breakup tune! Oh my.
A great band, fantastic guys. Wish them all the success in the world.

Nickelback – Figured You Out
I still don’t understand the hate, and I don’t care. They continue to sell albums by the truckload and good for them. Every time I’ve hung out with the band they’ve been incredibly cool to me, and I’ve never met a person that knows them with anything bad to say. Sometimes, you just need a good banger to turn up loud and drive fast to.

Odds – Wendy Under the Stars
Oh frick. I’ve sang this song a grillion times. Love.

Furnaceface – Government Cheque
It’s just fun.

There’s so many more that I could add, but I just got an email from folks in the industry – and they need more work from me, which makes me as happy as it did when I started. What’s some of your favourite Canadian tunes? Let me know in the comments below.

– JT
June 30, 2017

Choose to find a way. Don’t make excuses.

People that greet every new idea or opportunity with negativity drive me bonkers. We’ve all seen them, we all have them in our lives at some point or another. When someone presents them with a suggestion, their first response is to list 27 reasons why it won’t work – all of which are of course out of their control. When faced with these people over and over, eventually you stop giving them ideas. Yet, when you know someone who has a positive attitude – you love bringing up ideas because you know the reaction will be positive and could lead to even better ideas through discussion. View full article »

Does he know?

look at you
the happy couple
all smiles and
hand in hand
so cute so sweet
pardon me
while i bare my teeth

are you his darling princess
go to sleep with your head on his chest
does he hug you nicely, hold you close
because he can trust you more than most?
do you smile politely, play the part
oh look at you, little sweet heart

but i wonder, does he know
how you came to my door
on your knees and you’re
a little bit less than honest
but with a taste for the best
not that it matters
but it’s funny to ask
tell me does he know
does he know

so nice the way he holds the door for you
brings you flowers, your favorite kind too
and he promises the world
for his innocent baby girl
looking to all the world like the perfect couple
excuse me miss, my name is trouble

i guess it’s hard for you to say a word
when your mouth is too busy, dirty girl
can you tell me, does he know?
the truth of you is scratched all over my back
innocent nothing, you took it in
world class style, i’ll have to give you that
and if i’m bored again, might even invite you back

i should ask him if he knows
but it’s really not my place
but i just might do it
to wipe that smile off his face
there’s no point to it
it isn’t nice, it isn’t kind
but you both should know you’re only his
because you weren’t enough to be mine.

  – JT
9:13am, Sunday March 30, 2008

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