north shore – november

Heya, folks. I bet you thought you’d heard the last of the North Shore blog in August. Nope!

I want to share a development in the album that’s come up recently.

Let’s back up a little bit here. At the end of July, I was at Neys, and I was working on this one song — a song I knew I was really going to like, and for which I had a very clear musical “vision” (this is rare for me; I knew, up front, the effect I wanted for the piece as a whole, and how it would affect the listener) — and for some reason no matter what I wrote, something seemed to be missing. A change in the chord pattern? An arc in the intensity? A whole section? It was pretty — really really pretty (recent test subjects have also suggested “haunting”, which I quite like) — but it was a four minute song in which something that needed to “happen” didn’t actually happen.

With me so far?

This was a song for two guitars. Lead, accompaniment. Both played by me on the recording, and easy to replicate live with a second guitarist. Perfect. But … what if I put piano in there? I could give it that “thing” that was missing if I added a piano part. The music would lock into place. I could pretty much already hear the final version playing out in my head, and I was loving it.

“But Matt, you don’t play piano.”

Yeah. I know. As much as I love piano music, I’m a terrible pianist (unless I can interest you in the Lost Woods theme). And this project, well … it’s a solo record. A “Matt’s supposed to be the sole performer” record. Because of the album concept, that only made sense, or at least that was what I had in my head at the outset. But … maybe that could be twisted a bit?

Almost ten years ago, first year of university, I met one of my all-time best friends, Graeme. He’s a pianist and composer. It took us longer than it probably should have to realize that we both spent our childhood summers at Neys. See where I’m going with this?

Looking back, I recall occasionally meeting other kids my age, playing together on the beach, building sand castles, all the fun stuff, enjoying whatever it is about that place that makes it stick with you forever. And then at the end of the week or month or however long you stay, you go your separate ways. So now, I have it as a suspicion (one might even go so far as to call it a “headcanon”) that Graeme and I first met as kids at Neys, were separated for about a decade, and then re-met as music nerds at Lakehead.

Graeme and I feel the same way about these parks and shorelines. I realized it’d be a missed opportunity not to phone him up and ask him to be the pianist on this one track that so desperately needed a brilliant pianist who deeply understood what the music was about.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. It’s now probably my favourite song on the whole album.