Photo from Gord in Linda in Prince Albert, SK holding the new CD up in front of The Keyhole Castle where we recorded some of the BG vocals for Goodbye Sadness
I have always been in awe of Spirit of The West. The star quality of John Mann, the rip roar of the accordion, the look of their audience – as though every day is St. Patrick’s Day. When that band plays, you feel as though worries and cares are buried deep under the audience’s voices collectively singing “Venice Is Sinking” at the tops of their lungs.
With “Goodbye Sadness”, I wanted to capture some of that spirit – of abandon, of wistful remembrance, and the great fishermen’s seas which surround our nation. An ode to a friend of mine from Ireland whom I have not seen for a very long time, “Goodbye Sadness”romanticizes that Trent Severn might be on the shores of Bonavista, Newfoundland and Labrador – staring across the Atlantic with a pint raised while my estranged friend would be doing the same in Inishmore, Ireland. Bonavista and Inishmore – these two places looked about the closest you could get to meeting up, without leaving each other’s countries. (I also maintain that Inishmore just sounds good in the chorus!)
Before the song was even written, it was sparked by something an attendant at the Esso gas station in St. Marys, Ontario said to me after I filled up the family car one day. Dissatisfied or bewildered with the weather which was cold one day, buggy the next, he shrugged his shoulders and said to me empathetically, “frost bites or fly bites!”. The Trent Severn light bulb went off and the phrase was filed away for insertion in this song.
Establishments mentioned in the song include the fabulous Little Red’s Eatery in St. Marys (“Little Red’s got Guinness / Come see us taking care of business”). In researching this song, I texted one of the owners Chris Woolf. “Do you serve Guinness? Asking for a friend”. Doyle’s pub near Trinity College in Dublin also gets a mention, as it was somewhere I performed a songwriter’s night every Tuesday evening many years ago. The downstairs section of the pub would always be packed with drunk college kids by 4pm, but by 8pm there was a special night upstairs called “Ruby Sessions” where people were ordered to be quiet and listen to new songwriters. Many Canadian musicians have performed there and it was a place of magic.
Other lyrics – like “let the 30-foot swells make their way” refer to a trip my husband took across the Atlantic to see me in Ireland some years back. The trip took place one November via freighter from Montreal to Liverpool and the waves swelled to a breathtaking height of 30 feet.
The Ontario tie in this song? Adelaide, a small community near London, Ontario where my Irish ancestors, the McCabe family settled and began farming. My dad was born in 1934 – many years after their arrival.
Producer Dayna knocked this one out of the park on our recording by allowing some good-time unison vocals and keeping the tempo right in the perfect spot, a little bit pedantic as if to mimic the sway of a fisherman’s boat and just fast enough to tap your toe without completely spilling your pint of Labatt 50. – Emm