My sense of musical creativity continues to be submerged by the pandemic.
My drummer buddy Mark has sent me new mixes of the stuff we were working on a month ago, and through a combination of overwork and lassitude, I haven’t even listened to half of ’em yet.
(Mark is one of my Four Readers sometimes, so a note to him: Dude, I promise, I’ll get back into it. It’s not you, it’s me. The fact that I am writing here suggests that my interest in creating stuff has not totally gone. It will happen. Art is messy, and we are not ashamed.)
I did read something a little while ago, on the subject of musical creativity, that brought together several of my interests — sports cards, hockey, and a certain band I’ve gotten into in the past few years. So I’ll write about that.
(If you’ve ever heard me sing, you might be grateful that I’m spending the evening typing instead.)
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There’s an excellent site I’ve referred to before, called A Museum After Dark, that explains (or attempts to) the many cultural, geographical, and personal references in the songs of ur-Canadian rock band the Tragically Hip.
Barilko, not usually known for his scoring, netted the goal that earned the Leafs the 1951 Stanley Cup. That offseason, he disappeared while flying to a fishing vacation in remote northern Ontario.
In his absence, the Leafs failed to win another Stanley Cup, giving rise to the suggestion that they would not win again until Barilko was found. In the end, it happened the other way around: The team won its first title in 11 years in April 1962, and about eight weeks later, Barilko’s body was discovered.
A Museum After Dark says that Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie was inspired to learn more about Barilko, and eventually to write about him, by reading about him on a hockey card.
The card — a recent issue recounting a historic event — looked familiar. And my “home office” is in the basement, near my sports stuff. So I went back into my binders to look.
And sure enough, when I bought two or three packs of NHL Pro Set ’91 — nearly 30 years ago, probably in some drugstore on or around the Boston University campus — I’d pulled the very same card that inspired Gord Downie to write a song loved by millions of his countrymen.
Still have it, too:
The moral of the story, then, is that creative inspiration can come from everywhere — even from a bulk-printed, six-for-a-dollar piece of colored cardboard.
And now I’m rifling through my binders of cards, wondering what songs and stories are hidden in there that could bestir the imaginations of listeners.
Look at these examples from the binders. They’re singing something. But what? Minor key? Major? Waltzes? Country? Reggae? Funk?
It’s gotta be in there somewhere…