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Race Track Hack





NORM at TRANZAC (ended June 2001)











Taxi News, September 2000, p. 15-16.
Column about Lloyd Landa
© Norm Hacking 2000

My Friend Lloyd

Lloyd Landa at Norm's Living Room, Tranzac, 2000
(photo by Shirley Gibson,
not printed with Taxi News article)

As a writer, you come to realize there's a very fine line between the deeply emotional and heartfelt, and that which is self-indulgently sentimental and maudlin.

I'd talk about things like this for hours, with my friend Lloyd Landa.

Now, I'm staring at this page, scared as hell that the incredible ache caused by his sudden passing on August 2nd will push my pen across that line. Lloyd wouldn't like that. And, he deserves much more, for he himself was a master of recognizing and straddling the fine line - whether it was the exact tone required by a magazine article, or a press release, or corporate speech - or the sensitive and delicate essence of a beautiful song lyric.

Oddly enough, we both detested the world of public relations, and corporate "spin," while we lived for the privilege of writing and performing songs. Yet, it was in the business world we first met, over 14 years ago, when I was Director of Media Relations, and Director of Marketing, for a Bay St. company.

Lloyd had been hired on for a project, by one of the firm's partners, as a freelancer. It was inevitable that our musical connection would draw us together. It was equally inevitable that, once having met, we would become the very best of friends.

Some people live entire lifetimes trying to find a way to relate to this world - to get close to their fellow travellers. Some never find it.

For Lloyd, connection was instantaneous, because he was too busy being real - being himself - to suggest the threat of a hidden agenda to anyone.

Being himself meant really listening when people told him stories. It meant you were always met with a smile that would charm, and reassure, that would lighten up that which inside us all is weary, and sad, and gray, and frightened.

It meant that soon, that smile was going to lead you towards some sort of mischief that almost surely would involve bad puns, and outrageous anecdotes and stories.

The kind of person he was, made him a great writer.

He hung onto his childlike innocence with a fierce wisdom. He knew that our best defences against becoming numb and embittered were laughter, and playfulness, and a wide open heart.

His circle of artistic friends grew to be huge. In the early Toronto years, Lloyd shared adventures and lodgings with a rat pack that included singer-songwriter Dan Hill, brilliant pianist John Sheard, and children's entertainer Rob Schneider.

Later, he became an integral part of the Toronto open stage and singer-songwriter community which included people like myself, Wayne Marshall, Michael Laderoute, Ron Nigrini, Glen Hornblast, etc.

Lloyd's popularity amongst his peers was nothing new, for even back home, Lloyd had, from the first, forged lasting musical friendships in Saskatchewan, with artists such as Joni Mitchell.

He was proud of his friends, and cheered their accomplishments with genuine affection.

And, there was no one he cheered for more than his soul mate and musical partner Karen Linsley. They lived together, wrote together, and performed on stage together. The combination of their songwriting talents, Karen's haunting voice, and Lloyd's world-class virtuosity as, first and foremost, a brilliant pianist, but also as a deft guitarist, made for a truly breathtaking show.

Karen and Lloyd's most recent career successes were in the field of science fiction songwriting, with the release of an acclaimed CD, "Road to Roswell." They also placed a song in the final five songs being considered by the Mars Society, to be chosen as the official Mars "Anthem." The winning entry will apparently be played when Earthlings first set foot on our planetary neighbor. That would be the kind of immortality they so richly deserve.

But, as much as we judge success in this life by money, and awards, and all the other superficial trappings, Lloyd Landa's success was, ultimately, of the highest kind - he was a decent loving man who touched every heart that knew him.

I find myself writing a song now, that will probably take some time to finish. But I'm pretty sure the last verse will be something like this...

"Lifers can't quit
Till they cash in their chips
We keep bettin' on
The love of the game
And the dream that we chase
Full of love, full of grace
Deals less with fortune or fame
Than the way that a friend
Speaks your name..."

Webmaster's note: These lyrics are indeed the last verse of "A Songwriter's Song" that Norm completed in August 2000 (not yet recorded)

Lloyd Landa and Karen Lindsley's website is at

Updates:  Lloyd and Karen's song "The Pioneers of Mars" did win the Mars Society's Rouget de Lisle contest for a national anthem commemorating the hoped-for colonization of Mars. In early 2004, their 1999 recording of the song was featured on a new CD To Touch the Stars: A Musical Celebration of Space Exploration (info here) and on February 14 2004 was played by the Jet Propulsion Labratory as part of the wake-up routine for the Mars rover "Opportunity".

Taxi News website is


For more of Norm's prose and some song lyrics:

Click here to read Norm's December 19, 1999 Toronto Star feature article, "Looking for Christmas: A Songwriter's Journey."

Click here for the 1988 Stubborn Ghost album dedication letter to his young son Ben and a photo from the album. (Most of the tracks are included on the reissued CD Skysongs... A Writer's Collection and six of the songs were recorded by other artists for One Voice, A Tribute to Norm Hacking, Volume 1, now available.)

Click here for an index of Norm's lyrics, poetry and prose (including other "Race Track Hack" columns for Taxi News) on this website.

Norm's prose files restored December 3, 2001
Last update (notes) February 29, 2004