Composers & Musicians
In 1982 the Commodore 64 computer was introduced, Ronald Reagan survived being shot, the Falkland War started and ended, Michael Jackson released, Thriller, Canada repatriated its Constitution, and the first compact disc was sold in Germany. And that’s not all. In 1982 I blossomed from a naive fourteen-year-old trying to fit in with the cool kids …
Just two years ago Alanis Morissette was a former teen pop star, dismissed by some as a footnote in Canadian pop history. Then her album Jagged Little Pill sold over 13 million copies worldwide, and a new queen of alternative rock was crowned.
Here Paul Cantin tells the tale of how Morissette transformed herself from failed teenage star into an arti …
Throughout her career, Carole Pope has blazed a trail for the diva and anti-diva in all of us, and here she offers a no-holds-barred look at her adventures in the music scene – on the concert stage, in the recording studio, and in the bedroom. Known for ushering Canada from the punk movement of the 1970s to the new wave sound of the 1980s with Ro …
The Sixties (What were we thinking?)
I have to bear the flower-bedecked cross of the baby boomer. For me the sixties consisted of taking every drug possible, hallucinating Shiva and Vishnu cartoons on hardwood floors, and having really bad sex with everybody. I almost forgot we actually thought you could deal with your emotions with the aid of psychedelics, and yes, we did try to perpetuate the myth of a Utopian, Atlantis-like lotus land where we could live together in peace and harmony. Yeah, right. Put me in a room with those losers now and I would run screaming to the nearest exit.
I moved away from home when I was eighteen. My family was living in Don Mills, a suburb of Toronto. The landscape was flat and monochromatic, relentless in its conformity. I knew I'd lose whatever semblance of sanity I had if I stayed in that house. I was the oldest of four kids. My childhood had been heaven until my father decided we had to move from England to Canada. My parents, my baby sister, Diane, and I had lived in a beautiful house in the country outside Manchester, amongst verdant rolling hills. We had an English bulldog, a green parrot and chickens running in the backyard. I liked to survey my little fiefdom while blowing bubbles in my white clay pipe. The house belonged to my grandmother, who we called Nanny. She lived with us and I absolutely adored her.
One afternoon I was confronted by my godparents, who were standing in the hallway of our house looking devastated. We watched as a coffin was carried down the stairs by undertakers. Not making the connection as to what a coffin was, I asked them what was going on. They told me "Nanny's gone to heaven." Soon after that we were on a boat to Canada.
Even as a toddler, I knew that my mother was unhappy. I could see her face change when she talked to my father. He was constantly on her back, nagging her about something. My first conscious memory of my father was sinking my teeth into his flesh. This strange man came up to me and I bit him. I didn't know who he was, he was away from home so much. My second conscious memory was music, which was always playing somewhere in the house. My mother started singing to me and taking me to the theatre when I was a babe in arms. From my baby point of view, the theatre seemed like a sparkly shiny place where my mother would fall into a trance. I soon followed her.
My parents, Jack and Celia, were an odd match. Dad was a Canadian who'd moved to England in the forties. He dressed like a gangster, favouring black shirts with white ties. He had wavy hair and a pencil-thin mustache. He was, quite frankly, wacko a certified manic depressive. He was sexually Victorian and politically left-wing. He was always running some kind of scam. During the war he had done duty as a fireman and he openly admitted to me that he'd ripped off people's belongings while putting out fires in their houses. He'd won my mother over in a three-month courtship. They were both into ballroom dancing and that was how they met.
When Diane and I came home after hanging out with our friends, he'd call us sluts. After we left England, we moved every year of my life, because he had grandiose ideas that the next place would be better, that he'd make more money or whatever delusional shit was going on in his head. For most of those years, he worked as a tire salesman. My sister Elaine was born in Montreal, the first stop on the dysfunctional trip we were on. As a teenager, Elaine used to try to reason with Dad about his moving mania. She was the responsible adult to his irresponsible child. She'd ask him if he'd picked up our report cards and school records before we moved, and he'd lie and say he had. I had long since given up, and the more we moved, the more introverted I became. I spent most of my time in the parallel universe of my fantasy world. I was a poor student except in art, history and literature. I had the extra added pressure of being the "new meat" in my various schools, which to me were more like volatile, intimidating cell blocks than places of learning. When I asked my father to help me with my math homework, he'd get abusive, calling me stupid if I didn't get the right answers.
At one time Jack had been a stilt walker and he said he'd replaced Cary Grant in the Manchester circus he'd worked in. Elaine and I used to pretend we had different dads William Powell, Fred Astaire or Robert Conrad. We'd fight over William Powell. Jack did have a dark, sarcastic sense of humour that three of his offspring inherited. Only Diane didn't venture over to the dark side with the rest of us.
My mother, Celia, was British, blond and beautiful. She had olive skin and brown eyes, and resembled the actress Gena Rowlands. It seemed to me that she walked around shell-shocked. After we moved to Canada, she told me repeatedly that she was sorry the day after she married my father. That is a steaming load of angst to dump on a child. All us kids would make fun of my mother's accent, and she was not amused.