Stephen Fearing, interviewed 4/9/00 upstairs at Bodles Opera House

 

Stephen Fearing at Bodles Opera House
Angela:  So Stephen, welcome to Folk Plus.

Stephen:  Thank you, finally.

Angela:  Yes, I know...we finally have you here.

Stephen:  Yeah, its good.

Angela:  I just found out tonight when you were playing that you spent a lot of time in Ireland, tell me about that.

Stephen:  Eleven years in Ireland.  I moved there when I was six.  My folks got divorced, my mother married an Irishman and so we moved, bag and baggage, three kids my mom and my stepfather.  We all moved to Ireland and lived there for... well I was there eleven years.

Angela:  Musically did that affect you?

 

Stephen:  Its funny because it didn't affect me in obvious ways.  I don't have a repertoire full of what my mother would call "diddly-dumpty" music, you know "Danny Boy" and blah blah blah but if you go and hang around any Irish people for more than 20 minutes you'll realize that there is a certain artistic thing going on, even in their choice of words.  That sounds a bit silly but it's true.  People have a different aesthetic and its not... the same way that in North America if you are an artist, people think that you are a little flaky. In Ireland, its a much more respectable thing to be. There's a lot of farmers and people who do manual work for a living who write poetry on the side and are quite happy to talk about it in the pubs.  There's just a different aesthetic and I think that had a big effect on me.  Plus, there is a mournfulness in Irish music, just a sonic quality that people would think of as being a bit sad and I think that some of that crept into my music too.

Angela: There is sort of a cadence to their talking...a framing that comes directly from Gaelic the way they'd form a sentence. "It's to the pub you're going are ya?"

Stephen:  Yeah, and statistically the Irish have twice the working daily vocabulary than any Irish North American, in English. They've got I think it's a 5,000 daily working vocabulary and your average North American has 2500.

Angela:  And how many have you worked into your tunes?

Stephen: (Laughing)   Well, you know you try and get `em in; all the long words you can think of. It's just that the Irish have different ways of putting a sentence together.  They delight in the use of the language in a way that your average North American doesn't. so. If you look at Irish history, there are so many playwrights.  For such a tiny country, with a population of I think , currently, 3 million people it has had a pretty big effect on the English speaking world. A friend of mine is Chilean, he was telling me that one of the big Chilean heroes is an Irishman!  The Irish, I don't know how they pull it off but they seem to have spread all over the world and affected everything so that everybody's got Irish relatives and everybody on St. Patrick's Day finds a good reason to get hammered.

Angela: Everyone decides to be Irish.  It's sort of like all the people who said they were at Woodstock...way more than could have ever been there.

Stephen:  That's right.

Angela:  So you were in Ireland in January?  Giggin?

Stephen:  Yeah,  No!  I was there on a real bonafide holiday.  I got to hang out with my mother for half the time and for the rest, my wife and I traveled around in a car.  We borrowed one of my folk's cars and drove south to a bunch of places that I was familiar with and sort of played tourist.  It was great.  The fact that I was able to be there without a guitar was really happy about.

Angela:  You didn't sing any "diddly dumpty" music even?

Stephen:  I didn't sing a peep to anybody.  My mother tried to get me to at one point and I said, "No, I'm not playing music. Forget it!"

***SONG INSERT ****   49 Tons  written by Fred Eaglesmith
                                           performed by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings from Kings of Love

Angela:  So before you tell me about how you felt about winning a Juno, define it for the American audience.

Stephen:  Well, it's funny.  Promoters when they are trying to draw a crowd down here in the States to my gigs, because people don't really know much about me they will say "Stephen Fearing! Six time Juno nominee!" An then in brackets underneath they will say "the equivalent to the Grammies."  I hate to tell you that it's not really the equivalence of the Grammies.

Angela:  Define it for us, then.

Stephen:  It's the Canadian Music Industry's award in all these different categories.  You know, male songwriter male singer of the year, female singer of the year, country male vocalist...blah blah, on and on.  But by nature, the Canadian music industry is so much smaller than the American music industry.  Even though we have well I guess you have to look at the charts, a lot of people at the top right now just happen to be Canadian women. Don't know how that works but it's the truth right now. It's just different.  I find the whole thing to be a little bit repugnant, a little bit like I want to have a bath when I'm done.  After attending the Junos for the last five years because I have been lucky enough to be nominated five times in a row, this year I decided not to go.

Angela:  You didn't go?!

Stephen:  I didn't go (laughing) and Blackie and the Rodeo Kings won.

Angela:  The Michael Caine mistake.

Stephen:  Exactly.  I've recently been told I'm the Susan Lucci of Canadian folk music. So I guess I've broken that one too.

Angela:  So you weren't there then, when your name was announced?

Stephen: No, I wasn't there.

Angela:  Well I remember last year, I was with you right before them, you said "No I'm not going"

Stephen:  Yeah, and we went. My wife and I went last year and I said "That's it"

Angela:  Who won last year?

Stephen:  In our category?  In my category?  Ron Sexsmith.  I was up for Industrial Lullaby for the Roots Traditional Solo Album. So Blackie and the Rodeo Kings won this year in the Roots Band Category. Were were up against Great Big Sea and La Bouttine Souriant, Scrooge McDuck, a really great Winnepeg band, who else? Can't remember.

Angela:  Were the other two guys there?

Stephen:  Yeah, Colin and Tom were there, but I wasn't.  The whole thing....well first of all getting an award for music is a little strange I think in some ways.  I love the idea of the industry recognizing people I love that.

Angela:  I guess that already happens with the sheer nomination.

Stephen:  Yeah, the nomination is kind of.... the deal.  There are different categories and some of them are based on record sales.  So that changes everything.  If we were in that category then Great Big Sea would have won, hands down, because they have sold the most records than any of the people that were in the category with us. Some of them are voted on by a jury of your peers, people that know the folk scene.  So the fact that you get nominated means that people have deemed those five nominees as being the five top in that category for the year.  That's a big honor.  It doesn't matter who is the best, because that is really subjective.  What's hard to take is when one award is given for record sales, and one for supposed merit.  Shania Twain won songwriter of the year.  That leaves me scratching my head.  She is not...as they said in the Globe and Mail that songwriting is "not one of her most obvious assets" which I thought...

Angela:  That was well done!

Stephen:  Yes, subtly put.

Angela:  I've looked for that sentence myself sometimes.

Stephen: So there you go. What does that mean?

Angela:  So, I'd like to cut to a song now.  Can you tell me an underapreciated song in your opinion.

Stephen:  Of mine?

Angela:  Yeah, one that you think shines, good writing...

Stephen:  A song of mine that just never gets attention paid to it is a tune called "When the world was a well"  It was a song I spent a lot of time working on.  It started out as a musical theme, a little musical motiff that got developed a little farther for a film.  It was to be the music played when the opening credits were happening and in the first scene. Ultimately it didn't get the gig for the music for the movie, but this piece of music wouldn't go away.  I worked on it for 3 years.  I got a verse after a year, I got the first verse, but I had not idea what the song was about.  If was a biblical sounding lyric and the melody is melancholy in a way but it really soars at one point and I have to just keep writing and writing to figure out what the song was a bout. Finally the song arrived.  I literaly worked on it for three or four years I think. It's on Industrial Lullaby.  The last cut.

Angela:  Here's Stephen Fearing:

**SONG INSERT ***  When the World Was A Well -  Stephen Fearing:
                                      from  Industrial Lullaby

Angela:  You also play with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings.

Stephen:  That's right.

Angela:  Tell me about the different persona you have to take on, Stephen Fearing alone at Bodles versus..

Stephen: It' really fun. Blackie and the Rodeo Kings is a band that was put together with three front guys; myself, Colin Linden and Tom Wilson. Colin is an amazing guitarist, songwirter, producer, voice-over guy, he has his irons in a lot of different fires. Tom is a songwriter and used to front a band called Junkhouse which your listeners probably wouldn't know, very much a Canadian rock band, a hard core almost a thinking man's metal band, thats how I'd put it. Or a thinking woman's metal band. They're a great band.  Tom is just a fantastic performer.  The three of us got together, several years ago now, just because we love the music of Willie P. Bennet.  Willie, your listeners might know as the mandolin player for Fred Eaglesmith, but a brilliant writer in his own right.  We figured that his material was undervalued thought we'd get together and make an album of his music for the fun of it, and the love of it. One thing led to another and what started life as a one time project has gone on now and we just last year, put out a double album, which is what we won the Juno for, that was called Kings of Love.  I'd be surprised if this thing doesn't just keep going. The hard thing is that none of us want to give up our day jobs, as it were, so it gets confusing sometimes. What are we doing here?  The solo thing? Are we Blackie and the Rodeo Kings?  Musically it is very different, it is quite loud, like a rock band without a bass or drummer.  The energy is a lot tougher than what folk music is generally known for.  For  me it has a lot more in common with "The Band" and that sort of aesthetic.  Its a very roots based thing and we are playing music where the common groud in songwriters and roots traditional songwriter type music.

Angela:  Where do you play in Canada?

Stephen:  A lot of the same places that I would play.  We play concert venues not bars, but the nice thing is that if we were put into a bar we could play just fine. The band has a real scope that I certainly don't have as a solo act.  We could play a rock festival or a folk festival or a country one, it really wouldn't matter because the material we have put together in a short amount of time, covers a lot of ground.

Angela:  When did Willie find out about you guys?

Stephen:  He found out really early. We brought him down to the original recording. We had to have his blessing.

Angela:  Yeah.

 ***SONG INSERT*** Music In Your Eyes  -  Willie P Bennet
       performed by Stan Rogers from a cassette of his frist US gig: The Side Track Cafe

Angela:  When you come and play the States is there a different flavor that you notice?  Other than the fact that....

Stephen:  That I'm completely unknown? (laughing)

Angela: ..(acknowleging his comment) which we are working on.

Stephen: You mean the empty flavor?

Angela: Besides the gigging.

Stephen: (Serious now) No definately there is. It's hard to put a finger on it.  I get asked this alot and I still haven't come up with a soundbyte that works. Its different. Everything from the state of the roads to the state of the PA systems to the jokes that go across and the ones that don't, references, everything, is different. There's a a well defined circuit of singer-songwriters. In some ways it has become a science. You could argue that the science may have eclipsed the art I don't know, but it is so much bigger. Americans don't do things by halves, not that Canadians do, but it's bigger again. The fact that I can be up here in this little tiny town playing at a place and they have got a folk series! Everybody's got a folk series! Everybody has CD's and an agent, it is just mind-boggling sometimes.  I go to the Folk Alliance and there are so many people there with their stuff, electronic bios.  That happens in Canada as well but to such a smaller degree. There is a lot more cross pollination between the various genres in Canada too.  People who work in the country scene in Canada also show up on folk records.

Angela:  When you say "country" that makes me think of the Rankins. Now what does it mean when they won the Juno for best country?

Stephen: The whole thing falls completely apart.  The Juno's...

Angela:  I'm back on that but the Rankins (added note here, I have played them as a Celtic band) You can't mean country like we mean country. Or did they just want to slot them somewhere?

Stephen:  Oh definately. The Rankins did this crossover into country music.  They were a traditional Celtic band coming from the east coast roots.  They started writing country western songs. So they started sliding more into that audience. I don't think they were wearing hats or anything, but they were getting there.

     **** SONG INSERT****    North Country  - The Rankins
                         North Country   EMI Music Canada  E280683

Angela:  So when did you discover your voice? You really have a phenominal voice.

Stephen:  Thank you. I'm having a bit of a hard time right now, but there was a lot of music in my family. The more I look into my family's history it is amazing.  I've got an aunt and uncle in the opera, their son is an opera singer too,  my grandfather was a vaudeville singer, my mother is a singer, my father taught piano, organ and band in high school.

Angela:  Where is he now?

Stephen:  He lives out in Nelson British Columbia. My mother lives in Ireland. So there is tons of music in the family and it was no surprise to anybody that I got into this. I was always led to believe that the music history in my family was classical music and so I was pleasantly surprised to know there was music hall and other elements, and that I wasn't such a black sheep. I've been singing since I was a kid.  The guitar playing was more of a recent thing.  There was piano and singing in the car with your parents and that kind of thing.  I picked up a guitar on my own when I was in my middle teens.

Angela:  Did you have lessons:

Stephen:  Yeah, I had lessons at first.

Angela:  Sounds like you didn't like them.

Stephen:  I did actually.  I loved it.  I had this great teacher. She didn't speak a lot of English she was French. She was the high school guitar teacher.  I don't know what she did, but she realized I was a romantic even at the age of 13, so she would play these beautiful romatic songs just out of my grasp as a player and so I would really want to learn them.  She moved on to bigger and better things.

Angela:  What's her name?  Does she come see you?

Stephen:  No, I was 14.  She would have no idea.  I'm sure she doesn't remember anything aobut me.  I was just another spotty kid in her class. But after that when the teacher changed and I didn't like that teacher at all.  At that point I walked away from the lessons

Angela:  But not the instrument.

Stephen: The love of playing she had already got under my skin. There was no turning back.

Angela:  We have to find out who she is so that we can thank her.

Stephen:  I can't rememberher name at all.  I think her last name may have been Simone. Mrs. Simone.

Angela:  Haul out a yearbook or something.

Stephen:  I have no records.  I was looking through my parent's records in an attic in Ireland and I found a bunch of old math books and English books, but that's all I have.

Angela:  So, Simone. Back in Canada?

Stephen:  No, this was in Ireland.  I left when I was six and I left Ireland when I was 17, and I already had finished my high school.  So all my schooling really was over there, and I learned the guitar there.

Angela:  Did they teach you Gaelic then?

Stephen: They still teach Gaelic, there is a certain cut off.  If you arrived in Ireland after the age of 12 you don't have to take Irish studies.  So my friend who was Irish who was out of the country a couple of years and came back at 13, he did not have to study Irish.  I'm Canadian and I had to study it.  So now I can say, please can I go to the bathroom in Irish.

Angela:  Would you say it for us now?

Stephen:  (laughing) "An bhfuil cead agam ag dul do dith an leithreas"  pardon the pronunciation.

Angela:  That's the interogative form, no?  Where is?

Stephen: "An bhfuil cad agam..."  may I have permission "...ag dul go tigh..."  to go to,  "...an leithreas..."  the toilet. If you did a direct translation it would be "is there permission on me to go to the bathroom?"

Angela:  Yeah, I've done a few years of Gaelic.. Cuz, love is at me on you.(as they say)

Stephen:  You're good! It's probably the more formal way, which is what we'd be taught of course.

Angela:  I'm interested...

Stephen: (laughing) Come on let's have some more Irish phrases...

Angela:  More Irish phrases?

Stephen:  No, I'm kidding.  Where is my marmalade? What else?

Angela:  "An bhfuil..." where is "...and nach bhfuil", is there not?

Stephen:  Yeah.

   ***SONG INSERT ***   Bodach Beoag a Loinean   Mary Jane Lamond
                      from her album Bho Thir Nan Craobh

ON AIR   "Our converstaiton went from Irish language to Irish History..."

Stephen:  Irish history is just fascinating.  My wife and I went to Killkenny sightseeing, there is not a lot open in January.  We left Killkenny and three days farther along we read the paper about these caves we were going to go to, but we didn't have time. Somebody, a local guy had been in these caves, and seen a Coke bottle someone else had tossed.  He reached over to grab it and felt something soft with his hands.  He brought back this old cape.  It was full of silver.  They had not seen the likes of it in Ireland before.  It dates back to Viking era.  This was the site of a Viking massacre, where the Vikings just showed up and killed everybody that was hanging around. They can't figure out if this was loot, one of the Vikings stashed or from someone who was running away who hid it. I mean, they are still finding this stuff.

Angela:  It's such a rich place.

Stephen:  Yeah, this would have been a place that the archeologists would have been through with a tooth comb, and they are still digging stuff up, saying "Oh my God, there is a Viking city under here that we didn't know about."  It is unbelievable country, just layers and layers on layers of history. I love it over there. I grew up there, I lived there, and yet, I guess it's like most kids in high school.  You don't really pay attention to what they are teaching you. It's only later in life that you see something, or read something.  I currently am reading everything I can get my hands on about the IRA.  I want to know. I mean I grew up in the South of Ireland with a fairly warped version of Irish history.  Now, with the distance of North America I'm looking at it again.  Not that I will be sending large amounts of money to the IRA not that they need it, I'm just trying to get a picture of what really did go down.  This history is fresh still. It's happening right before our eyes. You read Jerry Adams biography and you realize what dominoes fell.  I just find it fascinating. I think I'm like a lot of North Americans, in that I don't have a strong culture that I can lean on and say, "that is my culture".  I'm somewhere mid-Atlantic.  I was born in Canada. My father is English, my mother is Irish, I moved to Ireland as a kid, and then left. It's like so where do I draw my roots from, my musical roots?  I don't have any one place to lean on, but from my own interest it's all fascinating for me to study that place.

Angela:  We all draw from the mix that makes us up.

Stephen:  Yeah, it's just, I envy somebody who has five generations of family living in Kentucky.  You can just say, this is where I come from musically and its in your bones.  I don't have that.

Angela: So when someone says "Where are you from?" you say...

Stephen:  I'm from Canada.  I'm, very happy to be Canadian.  Canadians are very quiet about their patriotism. I love the country and I'm lucky to live there.  One song I've been singing in my sets Longest Road is very much about Canada, although it's actually not.

Angela:  It's about leaving Canada.

Stephen:  Yeah, my childhood.  The usual singer-songwriter droll.  It mentions Canada a lot, and it gets used as a patriotic song about Canada but it is not. I guess I'm like a lot of Canadains.  I quietly love the place I'm from.  You know in a world where people stow themselves away on fishing boats for 20 days so that they can get to somewhere better than where they currently live Canada is a destination. People are trying to get there, and I happen to be lucky enough to be born there.

Angela:  Let's hear that:*** SONG INSERT***  Longest Road  by Stephen Fearing
 

Angela:  Stephen Fearing, a song about Canada and not about Canada.

Stephen:  Right, a song about Canada and not about Canada.

Angela:  So, you got favorite places to gig?

Stephen:  Yeah, there are definately favorite places. That's like asking me

Angela:  Your favorite kids?

Stephen:  ...what records do I really love.

Angela:  What records do you really love?

Stephen:  (Laughing) whatever is currently in my CD player.

Angela:  What is that?

Stephen:  Right now, Joni Mitchell's new record, which is really fantastic. Really really good. She does all covers but two songs.  She redoes "oth Sides Now, and Case of You  The whole point, the whole theme of the record, is the arc of a love affair, a modern day love affair.  You are the cream in my coffee all the way to resignation of "this one didn't work". Classic Joni Mitchell, but her voice!  She is in the same league now as Billy Holiday.  I don't say that lightly. To hear a mature woman singing with a beautiful voice and mastery of her art and craft singing about these issues instead of the usual thing we hear a lot of, which is angry young women, (I mean we have had plenty of angry young men, let's not forget) but you don't get to hear a lot of older women singing about this sort of thing.  Singing these songs with the kind of wisdom that she has... and the arrangements are to die for... GO BUY IT!

Angela:  Do you think we don't allow older women to sing...we allow Joni Mitchell, because she is Joni Mitchell, but there are older woman out there singing, and maybe we don't allow them to be as heard.

Stephen:  We have to be clear who the we is. We is the music industry.  We are here on folk radio, there is a lot more leeway on folk radio although it has it's perameters.  The music industry is probably a little more tolerant of older men.  No matter ...katty lang, Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Sarah MacLaughlin, let's keep going, Alanis Morisette, Canadian women who have done really well, they all happen to be really good looking.  I don't know if anyone else has noticed that.

Angela:  No, nobody has noticed that!

Stephen:  We are back to Shania Twain winning songwriter of the year! People are listening to them because they are good artists, but its not coincidental that they also look really good and the industry is based around that.  So, not that Joni Mitchell isn't great looking either, but what I mean is, that when people get older it is harder for the industry to use them.

Angela:  And use is the operative word

Stephen:  It's visually based, because it is videos too. Radio has lost the power that it used to have. It's so much about how you look.  We don't get to hear some voices as much as we used to.  Country radio used to have a lot of older people, who were country stars, and they got pushed off radio 10 or 15 years ago by the younger crop.  Now country radio is so nebulous, it is pop with pedal steels.

***SONG**** From the new release by    Joni Mitchell

Angela:  So, Stephen Fearing, I'd like you to talk about, if you could, the ecology between the two countries
or something going on in Canada, we are coming up (this was recorded April 9th) on Earth Day. I'd love your take on what we are doing world wide.

Stephen:  I think its changing but a lot of people look at Canada and say "You guys are so great! You have the great health care system and are enviromentally ahead of the pack" and its not true,  the sad thing about Canada is that pretty much what happens in the US happens in Canada, its just a little slower. Probably it is slower cuz thereare less people.  Although I'd like to trumpet, blow the horn and say that Canada is so great we are making the same mistakes that were made down here and sometimes it is actually horrifying for Canadians to find out, but America is ahead of us in emission control for cars. California has the zero emission thing coming in pretty soon I think, all cars produced after this date will have zero emission.  Well, we won't be getting that in Canada for a while. So the same issues that America is dealing with or has dealth with we are dealing with or will be dealing with. So it's not that much different it's just that we have more space, and less people. It takes a little longer to notice we screwed up just like everybody else.

One thing that is really positive that happening in the town I live in Guelph, that is spelled G U E L P H - we don't have garbage collection anymore.  It is all recycled. We have two bins in our house.  Everybody in Guelph has two bins, wet and dry.

Angela:  Wet and dry?  So if you have wet paper, it goes in with the wet avocado?

Stephen:  Well if I take a wooden match and throw it away, that is dry.  If I strike it, that's wet.

Angela:  So you have to take classes before you throw something out.

Stephen:  Well there are categories.  The little absorbant thing when you buy your steak at the supermarket, underneath it, that's wet.  A Kleenex,  that  is dry.  You blow your nose, it's wet. A pizza box with pizza all over it, you scrape the pizza out, the leftover pizza is wet, the box is dry. It's pretty straight ahead.

Angela:  Now, can you make mistakes and how serious are they?

Stephen: Oh they are pretty serious.  First of all, the blue bag is dry, the green is wet and they have to be see through.  If you don't use the right coloured (note Canadian spelling) bag on the curb, and it's not see through, then they  won't collect it. So then you are basically left with your own garbage.  You can take it to the landfill site, still there, but you'll have to pay to put it away.

Angela:  Where is it going?

Stephen:  What happens is, they take the dry, they sort it into glass, plastic, metal and paper and it all gets recycled. Glass goes to a glass recycling plant  etc, and the wet gets turnied into compost. Everything, from meat scraps to used Kleenex, anything that is wet garbage gets recycled into compost.  At the end of the year they sell or give all this compost to high schools as fund raisers.  We all show up and buy back our compost. They make some money on it and it goes to their fund raising campaigns and we get this incredible great compost  to put on our gardens. So we don't have to compost anymore, which is great, don't have to be Mr. Ecology with this nasty smelling bucket in the kitchen that you have to empty every ten minutes.  We don't have to do that anymore.  It's this great thing.  It gives me great hope.  Toronto is going to be doing it in 5 years I think. They will be phasing it so that there is no  more garbage collection actually in Toronto.  It will be all recycled. Everything. That's going to be so dramatic. If Toronto can do it then New York City can do it. Toronto is a very big city. It is a big city. If major cities like that can do it, that is a big problem looked after. We won't have garbage boats drifting up and down the coast looking for somewhere to dump their rotting stuff. Not only can you not have the landfill problem anymore, but you can do something positive with it. So. Thats very positive.

Angela:  Thats pretty interesting.

Stephen:  Everybody can feel better now.

A:  Stephen do you have a piece of a song you are working on?  A phrase or a thought, something that isn't done yet?

Stephen:  Uh...(thinking, then laughing)  No. Actually, I've just put out a live record rather I've just recorded a live record that will be available...uh...

Angela:  That's the new thing.

Stephen:  What live records?

Angela:  Oh, just this month.  Christine Lavin, Ellis Paul, Vance Gilbert...all live.

Stephen:  I just figured I hadn't done it and that I should. People are always asking me. There is this thing when people come see you play on your own and then they pick the record up and there are 8 players on the thing, and they ask "Are you ever gonna make a record like we just heard?" So that's what we did.  Set up a couple of mikes.

Angela:  Good. I'd like to hear you that way.

Stephen:  It's recorded really well. It's very different to listen to yourself.  It's better than a board mix. A board mix is when you literally run a couple of lines off a house board.  It sounds better. But still, you listen to your inane chatter, like, for instance if you sent me a copy of this interview, I would never listen to it, because I would squirm horribly.  I can't stand listening to myself talk. I sound like an idiot.  Similarly, listening to myself play live is very difficult. It's just a different focus than a studio recording.  The whole point of bringing this up is that I'd hoped to go into the live recording with half of the material being new, but as it turned out, I have three new songs but I haven't finished the others enough.  So , I'm working on a lot of stuff but I can't really offer anything to you half finished because it's not finished.

Angela:  Would you introduce another song from one of your CD's?

Stephen:  Sure what should we play?  Maybe something off of ...maybe the Assassin's Aprentice that would be kind of fun. It's got a trombone solo on it that I love. It's a bit of a slick record in some ways. The trombone solo makes it all worthwhile. That song was actually written as an answer or a  I wrote  a song called the Bells of Morning which is on the blue line record.  The Bells of Morning was written after the Montreal massacre happened where as your listeners may know about this.  A man named Mark La Pin walked into a University in Montreal with a semi automatic weapon, sorted out the women from the men in a classroom and shot fourteen  women.  His reason was that he had felt that feminists had ruined his life.  Obviously a fairly messed up human being.  Then he took his own life.  All the details were in this note he left.  I wrote a song about it called the Bells of Morning and a lot of people asked me, who was this male character and would I want to go into more detail about it. So, I wrote the Assassin's Aprentice. That was an attempt on my part to get into the head of Mark La Pin a little bit more, because my own feeling is that it is very easy to take a character like that and say "He is a monster"  We can all sleep a little better at night.  I also don't think there is that much difference between somebody like him and somebody walking around the earth. Obviously we don't all pick up automatic weapons and shoot each other, but we were all raised with the same perameters.  For men, you get brought up with this certain set of truths that you are told you have to believe.  Some people turn in, become introverts, or extraverts and some people just blow up. They can't take it.  That's what happens to people like Mark La Pin. I wanted to crawl under his skin a little bit and write the song. So thats what the Assasssin's Apprentice is about. It's a very cheery song, you'll really like the trombone solo!

Angela:  With that, here is Stephen Fearing ***SONG**and the title cut from his CD The Assassin's Apprentice.

A: You have the lyrics, incredible guitar skills and a great voice, thats a winning combination.  What do you value most?

Stephen:  I don't think I value any more than another.  I guess if I lost my hand in an accidnet God forbid, or my voice, if I lost the ability the ability to write?  That's something you wrestle with everyday as a  writer, its like "Oh, I got to write another song."  What happens if nothing happens?

Angela:  You can play Willie's.

Stephen:  Yeah, I guess if I stopped writing, I'd still be happy to sing and play.  That's probably the thing I enjoy the most.  You can't put one above the other. I try to make myself as strong as I can to keep myself interested, in case somebody out there is listening very carefully then they can go "Oh!"

Angela:  Isn't that sad, "in case somebody is listening very carefully"

Stephen:  That's the truth though.  People come up to you and say "I love that song you do about avaocados" and you realize that they misheard the whole song! (laughing) That's the deal. It's why we make records, so that people can listen over and over and hopefully there is something there for them to find after the 10th listen.

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