Blue Rodeo: Just Like A Vacation (1999)
Recorded Live In Concert
Jim Cuddy - Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin, Harmonica
Kim Deschamps - Pedal & Lap Steel, Dobro, Guitar, Mandolin
Bazil Donovan - Bass, Upright Bass
James Gray - Keyboards, Accordion
Greg Keelor - Vocals, Guitar, Drums
Glenn Milchem - Drums, Percussion, Guitar
String Section: "Fallen From Grace"
Anne Lindsay - Violin 1
Lenny Solomon - Violin 2
Wendy Solomon - Cello
Parmela Attariwala - Viola
"It Could Happen To You"
Anne Lindsay - Violin
When we first started,
we(Jim and I) were living in the same house and just sort of
hanging out all the time. Neither of us really knew much about
songwriting - we hadn't written too many
- so we learned through imitation and putting the parts we had
come up with together into songs. For the first few years we
sat in certain bedrooms and basements just writing
and putting these pieces of songs together.
As we got more comfortable with our abilities, we were able to
write on our own and then bring songs to each other in
rehearsal and start arranging and editing them there.
For some reason, the recorded version of a song is the
definitive one, but as you play these songs over a period
of time, they go through a lot of changes.
We recorded over 60 shows on our last tour plus two more we
did at Stratford, Ont, which were really great because we'd been
listening to all the tapes, so, of the 22 songs on this record,
9 are from Stratford and the rest from everywhere else.
You can really hear us playing together with the energy of the
audience and really interacting with each other as musicians...
so yeah, I guess the old records might sound a little stiff in
comparison... but the energy of a live concert...
that's a whole other thing.
Listening to all these songs and looking back over our career,
we realized that, despite it all, it's been just like a vacation...
I mean, think about it, writing and singing songs...
who wouldn't want to do that every day?
-- CD/Cassette 1
Til I Am Myself Again (Jim)
Definitely a travelin' song. During the era of that song
(Casino), we'd been on the road for 5 years, doing 200 dates
a year... doing everything we could because we'd quit our jobs
maybe a year and a half earlier. So that song is about feeling
fractured and it's a bit of a constant theme in that up ahead,
if only you could get feeling right, you could sort everything
out. At that point in our lives, things were definitely the most
tense - we had stretched the patience of people we were
leaving behind as far as we could possibly stretch it.
In my case, I kind of snapped and had to change
what I was doing. At each point, the records embody a
particular state of mind that you move through... I think the
reason you continue to do it is that you start to realize
the value of cataloguing these states of mind.
What Am I Doing Here (Greg)
One of our first gigs in America was playing the Erie
Country Fair. The stage was outdoors and facing towards
the midway and all that sort of stuff they have. The
opening act was actually 8 local bands in a high school
Battle Of The Bands - so there were a few hundred
adolescent drunks stumbling and puking all over the
place. By the time we went on, it was depressing
scene - the county fair and all the drunks -
so we just played to this wasteland sort of show and I'm
standing up there just wondering what I'm doing here.
Better Off As We Are (Jim)
This is about not being satisfied with where you've come from.
It's unwanted advice, people telling you that you're better off
just staying connected to the environment you grew up in, but
for me, I don't have an environment I grew up in. Nothing ever
prepared me for a life in music, but I sort of feel I must have
been... either people in my family were hiding it or I was born
differently because I feel very suited to living in an environment
full of musicians, but nobody in my family ever did that. It's not
like they were discouraging or anything, but I think striking out
into a different way of life than what you've been presented
with when you were young... it presents its own problems.
That sort of quiet desperation at the end of a relationship
when nothing's really making sense and I sort of had the
image of William Holden at the beginning of Sunset Boulevard
in my head, and I'd always sort of related to that character
floating in that pool. I was always hoping for the opportunity
to play the gigolo for some wealthy woman. This is a song
about identifying with that sort of compromised existence.
After The Rain (Jim)
Just a tortured love song. Not really grounded in reality as
much as it could be. From Casino onwards, I realized that,
as a songwriter, I had to write things that were very lodged in
reality because of the repetition of what we'd been doing and
because of how deep we were getting into the whole lifestyle
of doing it - if they weren't rooted in reality then it was much
more difficult to sing them over and over again. However,
something like "After The Rain" was a great song to sing.
that's probably the reason I wrote it.
Fallen From Grace (Jim)
Falling off a perch. The prospect of living with misery and...
a bit of a dark moment. A dark night. Just a moment...
just an evening, really.
The Ballad of The Dime Store Greaser & The Blonde Mona Lisa (Greg)
A cautionary morality tale... but I think that the true genesis of it is lust.
It Could Happen To You (Jim)
Written about the Mayor Giuliani bust of some squatters in New
York. We went down there to do a video for "Blew It Again"
(Nowhere To Here) and the abandoned building we used was such
an artistic looking and decorated place that we asked about it...
and found out that squatters had at one time taken it over and
revitalized it. We met some of them and they told us the story of
how at the beginning of Rudy Giuliani's mayoralship, he really
wanted to prove to people in the city that he was going to clean it
up, so he brought this incredible show of force to this building and
booted all the squatters out in a real media event, TV cameras and
everything, cordoned off the building and put it under 24hr police
watch... the squatters just moved to the building next door! I mean,
these people take completely forgotten buildings and really bring
them back to life - they put an enormous amount of human energy
into them... and they're beautiful! Like a lot of things in New York,
they're kind of monuments to human ingenuity.
Girl In Green (Greg)
Kind of a love song. When you're in a relationship, it's a mirror.
Trying to find out what we're going to be, what we could be...
where things will take us.
"Try" was essentially a singing song. A lot of the things we did when
we first started as a band were kind of unconscious - just put
together - it relates to fragments of stories and advice songs, but
really it was a singing song... just me trying to find an emotional way
to sing. I wrote it in New York and it was quite different - the most
significant thing about it is that it was one of the songs we brought
back from New York (we had "Rose Coloured Glasses", "Floating",
"Outskirts," and "Try,") and we realized that was the first time we'd
had the experience of a song having such a strong effect on people.
Trust Yourself (Jim)
Our initial manager, John Caton, was the guy that took us from a band
on Queen St. to a more successful group. Everybody has a story that
somehow that situation explodes and ours did - I think that we were very
wounded at the time it exploded - I think in retrospect, it's just an
inevitable growing up and maturing as a band, that even if you
survive that, you still have to go through some kind of bursting of the
bubble. It's all so glorious at the beginning... so many things
happening to you that you never expected to ever happen and there's a
momentum to it that's just out of control and then reality sinks in...
and John, our manager, quit, and it got all complicated and we survived
quite well. It was a good thing for us... it was like being booted out of
the nest... and the nest had been a very comfortable place to be.
-- CD/Cassette 2
Dark Angel (Greg)
I remember I had tried recording this on acoustic guitar like the
version that's on the record and just not feeling very connected to
the song... and getting close to the date where we had to finish the
album. For Five Days In July, we had asked Sarah McLachlan to come
and sing on some songs... and so she was sitting in the studio, just
sort of warming up, singing the song and playing piano. Well, the way
she was singing it sounded way more appealing to me than the way
I'd been doing it, so I just sort of sat down beside Sarah and started
singing with her while she played piano. And the song started to
make sense to me and really took on an emotional weight that
I hadn't been able to touch in it before... it was very exciting.
Another one we did on the farm. Sarah McLachlan and Anne Bourne
are singing on that recording and "Cynthia" is about this woman that
I met in Minneapolis and she took me on a tour of the city and sort of
told me her story.
This is one of those emotional songs that I like to sing.
Piranha Pool (Greg)
It would have been written in the mid-80s... the era of Thatcher and
Reagan and a frustration with the celebrity military sort of thing that
was happening. Bob Wiseman was such a great keyboardist, we were
always trying to find ways to be able to showcase that a bit... so we
had this sort of pop song and it stretched into this different tune. He
played a beautiful solo for it in the studio, and each time he'd play it,
it would be an improvised piece... always totally different.
Bad Timing (Jim)
It's about meeting somebody at the wrong time... and not being able to
honour the possibility that's presented... because keeping moving is
more important than stopping and developing a relationship.
Five Days In May (Jim)
This was prompted by something that our soundman Kenny did when
we went to Australia and New Zealand... and we were on a beach in
New Zealand, all of us very conscious of the fact that we were
extremely far away from civilization. We were on this beautiful black
beach (black volcanic sand), and Kenny wrote his wife's name in the
sand. That was the first time I'd seen him do that and he said that
was one of the things he did, just ritualistically, wherever he was, on
any beach... he wrote his wife's name in the sand. It was his way of
commemorating and acknowledging the connection to his wife.
I thought that was really romantic... a really beautiful thing to do,
so I stole that and wrote the story of how I met my wife and used that
as a detail to sort of acknowledge that when you meet somebody
that you are very connected to... if feels automatically like you've
known them before, that you've known them forever.
That's the crux of that song - those two details.
Hasn't Hit Me Yet (Greg)
At the end of a relationship, when you find yourself alone... there's the
sort of pain and despair that goes along with it, but there's also the
sort of pleasantness about it, whatever that is... the return of solitude
which can be quite joyful at times...
I was walking around Port Hope...
I had about 3/4 of the song finished, and there's just something nice
about being in that state of mind when you're in the middle of writing
a song and everything is sort of contained into writing that song...
I was just walking around Port Hope...
and the snow started to fall and we got this sort of shared Canadian
experience of watching snow fall through and by a streetlight, and
there's a certain calm and connectedness that goes along with it...
And I was just standing there in Port Hope...
watching the snow fall... feeling connected and just thinking about
the same snow falling out in the middle of Lake Ontario.
Diamond Mind/Diamond Mine (Greg)
I wish this would have been called "Diamond Mind".
Can you change the title of it on this cd?
Tell them I said it was ok, cause it's the same thing, really.
Falling Down Blue (Jim)
A heartbroken jazz ballad. The setting for the song is Greg's farm and
the details are kind of borrowed from circumstances that were around
me. Sometimes I think what you do as a songwriter is witness a scene...
maybe you see something at an airport... let's say you see two people
saying goodbye to each other and for the next hour or two you live in that
scene and for me, sometimes, we worked a lot at Greg's farm and it's a
very open air beautiful setting... certain things happened there that
I think really had an emotional impact on me... and so, I again co-opted
the details of someone else's life and put them into a song.
Lost Together (Greg)
A campfire classic. We were playing a gig just outside of Detroit and there
was this little river maybe 100 yards across, and the stage was on one side
of the river and the audience was on the other... and there's all these boats
going back and forth and evey time a bigger boat went by, you couldn't
see the audience and they couldn't hear you... it was just a pathetic gig,
and after that show it was just another one of those depressing "What am
I doing?" sort of nights, but the nice about the desperation is that
there is that moment of when you start rising out of it - the second when it
sort of becomes funny - and I thought, well, if this is useless then at least
there's people around and we're doing it together.
This had been an especially fun gig in Saskatoon...and Lightning Spirit,
a native drum group, were playing with us... and the audience was just
great that night - really right into it... singing along...We were playing this
hall where they were right up against the stage... and so "Florida" on the
record has got sort of a rocky kind of thing to it - almost like a 50s rock
feel - and this night on the tour, we did it like a lounge tune and I sort of
changed into Johnny Vegas somehow and just had this nice rapport with
the audience and there's even a line where I held the microphone down to
this one kid who was singing so earnestly - to sing a line -
and that was really funny.
All songs by Keelor/Cuddy
All songs published by Thunderhawk Music except
Disc 1 - 1,2,5,11 & Disc 2 - 3,10 published by Thunderhawk Music and MCA Publishing.
Copyright 1999 Blue Rodeo Productions. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.
The Solo Works