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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Second Guest, Not Second Guessed

Joel D. Canfield

I do love word play still, sorry. So today I have a guest post from online friend Joel D. Canfield, another who loves to play with words. And who does so splendidly. I met him through Seth Godin's Triiibes. Here's his story.

Hi, I'm Joel, and I'll be your server today.

On March 12, 2002 I started blogging about music; music I loved, music I wrote, music and how it affected my life. When I launched my musiblog, I wrote this pseudo-bio which is still probably the best short explanation of my relationship with music. (We're, y'know, [insert visual image of crossed fingers here] like that.) is a by-product of a lifetime of musical ingestion. As a child in Wisconsin, entertainment was primarily homemade music. Even though it was the 60s, we didn't have a television (well, not one that worked.) My father played every instrument I ever saw him touch, and his brothers and sister were (and are) quite talented as well. I thought everyone played a musical instrument, and that they all wanted to be Woody Guthrie or Jimmie Rodgers when they grew up. No astronaut or cowboy dreams for me; my lifelong ambition has been to finally record the music that's built up inside my head.

When we finally got a phonograph (for you kids, that's kind of like a turntable and amp all in one, except back then, it only had one speaker, because the music wasn't in stereo) the first four record albums my parents bought were 'Marty Robbins Gunfighter Ballads' and three albums by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem (as I recall, they were 'Recorded Live in Ireland', 'Hearty and Hellish', and 'Live at Carnegie Hall.') As a result, I grew up thinking that 'music' meant country and western or Irish folk songs. The Beatles had a pretty good cartoon, but I distinctly remember the first time I heard 'rock and roll'—someone called 'The Rolling Stones.' I didn't like it.

My musical taste has broadened a bit since then. On any given day I may listen to Chopin, The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Led Zeppelin, Gordon Lightfoot, David Gray, and Moby. Oh yes; the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem are still favorites, and I definitely lean toward Celtic music.

After 20 years trying to teach me a few chords on the guitar, my father almost despaired of me. I learned about a decade ago that I can play a few chords on the piano, and around the same time picked up a friend's Washburn A10 bass and discovered that as long as I kept it simple, it came pretty easy. (I traded some web work for the Washburn.) Since then I've gotten a Fender Precision Bass, which sees much more use than the old Washburn.

When I am working on my writing, if I'm near an instrument, it's the piano. Still have trouble with chords on the guitar despite having a gorgeous Seagull six-string. I gave my Gibson acoustic to my oldest daughter. She practiced every single day for over a year, playing it Hendrix style since she's a lefty. I finally restrung it upside down for her, and she's been better than me for a long time now.

While my musical taste is broad, my musical influences have been few.

My father instilled a deep-seated emotional response to music early in my life by making it a part of my childhood, and later in life, by allowing it to be a bridge between us when other bridges failed.

Stan Black, the greatest guitar player I've ever met, and one of the best I've ever heard, professional or amateur, taught me that passion for music can sometimes be enough. I don't know many people less ambitious than Stan, but when we used to play together, he'd reach a point where he was inside himself; eyes closed, head back and swaying, firing off slashing licks that only a Clapton or Vaughan could hope to best. When we played together, the music was enough.

And finally, my middle daughter, who, besides having a marvelous voice and being my favorite poet, writes powerfully moving and fun music, and often lets me be a part of it.

I'm always interested in talking about music. Drop me a line at; I love hearing from any music lover.

Joel D Canfield is a singer/songwriter, a business author and mentor in business heresy.


What are your musical influences?



Felix Olschewski said...

by allowing it to be a bridge between us when other bridges failed.

It is only now that I realize this has been the case between my father and I as well. It made me cry for a second - and now it makes me happy. Thank you!

Tom said...

Joel, Marty Robbins' Gunfighter Ballads! Yeah! El Paso and Big Iron, classics. My musical tastes really broadened when I began shoplifting albums in high school, but I'm better now. Nice post.

Thanks Daniel.

d.edlen said...

@Felix - That's the line that stood out for me too, as it was my dad who introduced me to The Beatles, and music in general, on vinyl.

@Tom - You're welcome! I'm glad to get things going with such a couple of good guest posts and good comments.

Jerry Kennedy said...

Great post, Joel. As you know, music is one of my passions, too. I can't tell you how many times a week (or sometimes a day) I have a strong emotional response to a song that comes on the radio. Music seems to be one of those things that can move me like no other. I'm a big fan of the "piano rockers": Freddy Mercury and Queen, Billy Joel, Elton John, Meatloaf...those are the ones that routinely kick me in the guts. Maybe it's because their music tends to be more story based? Who knows.

Then again, I also love me some thrashin' metal and Grand Ole' Opry country...I'm kind of all over the board. ;)


d.edlen said...

@Jerry - Thanks for the comment! Good taste you've got. My wife helped me understand the emotional impact music can have. Before, I'd listened intellectually. Now I like Jeff Buckley, Nick Drake, and the Stereophonics.

caitlyn said...

Joel, (& the rest of you, too!)

Have you listened to the great Canadian, Stan Rogers? He's sometimes overlooked in favour of Gordon Lightfoot, but both offer an exciting musical look at Canadian history.

I'd pick Stan over Gordon any day but, then again, I'm pretty much in love with Lady Gaga these days ... and know (kind of) who Beyonce is, so I may be an unreliable source of great musical referrals.;-)

My musical tastes are as eclectic as yours but if I haven't recommended the Maritime harmonies and bass voice of Stan before, I am now.

Lovely post.


Joel D Canfield said...

Stan Rogers' "Northwest Passage" is part of my genetic code. I just didn't remember his name.

Daniel, I did the opposite: initially, music was pure emotion; it was my mom and dad singing harmonies, aunts and uncles and neighbors coming over to play, all the family associations of music in the Wisconsin Big Woods.

It wasn't until I met Brian Medlock, who probably should have been mentioned in this, and he loaned me every single theory book from his 4-years studying music in college, that I did anything intellectual with music. My brain exploded with giant possibilities and I haven't stopped exploding since ;)

Someday I hope I track down Stan Black and Brian again.

Daniel, thanks again for the opportunity to share this here. (Let me know when you need a sequel ;)

Felix, Tom, Jerry, Caitlyn, thanks so much for jumping into the fray. I love people who love music.

kyra said...

music was a 'bridge' for my dad & me, too. i will never forget listening to pink floyd's album dark side of the moon on the front porch with him one summer. i don't really remember having a conversation with my dad before i mentioned liking the song 'money' when it was on the radio. it was as if as soon as that fact escaped my lips, my dad & i had a common bond & that somehow built a strong relationship & other conversations just followed effortlessly. he's still my favorite person in the world to talk music with.

Joel D Canfield said...

kyra, I sure hope you tell him that often. fathers don't speak up much, but they need to hear good things from their daughters more often than they usually do.

it's fun and interesting that everyone latched onto the concept of music as a connector. thanks for sharing that, folks.