Norm and Ben
(1988) liner notes
A LETTER TO BENJAMIN EDWARD CHASE HACKING
As I write this, you are a truly delightful 6 year
old boy, about to turn 7 on Canada Day. Since your arrival here on
Planet Earth, you have been remarkably patient and kind and open and
giving with your mother and I, and the lessons I've learned from you
are undoubtedly reflected in some of the songs I have written for
I enclose this note with the album in the hope that
should you rediscover this record in later years, that you would know
a bit about some of the people who made it possible. With luck, of
course, we will all still be together, and the names I now mention
may in fact have become wonderful friends to you also.
Graeme Adams was the first to help us get back into
the studio, and John Hamilton's tremendous support kept us there ‘til
the project was complete. We of course chose Comfort Sound Studios
which meant once again working with my wonderful friend Doug McClement.
In the 18 years that I (and several of musical friends) have been
paying for the privilege of being independent artists in this country,
no one has given me greater support, encouragement and friendship
than Doug. It would be impossible to begin to repay him adequately
for his help with NORM HACKING LIVE; CUT ROSES; and now STUBBORN GHOST.
Doug plays bass on several cuts including Old Things in Love, a special
song written for your mother.
There are also songs dedicated to your Grandma, Kathy
O.; to your Great Grandma, Ella, who taught me about Christmas; to
a wonderful singer-songwriter named Steve Goodman; and there is one
dedicated to you.
I soon found out it is still a great thrill to work
with consumate artists and professionals, like John Arpin and Kirk
Elliott. They're two of the finest, and their performances on STUBBORN
GHOST make this record very special for me, because they are also
very special friends.
Likewise it was great to finally sing with Ron Nigrini.
Ron and I met in university and he was a real influence on me. I remember
seeing him perform in now extinct clubs like The Butcher's Arms. I
was just starting then, and Ron would let me play his old Martin between
his sets, as we sat at a table by the stage drinking draft beer.
STUBBORN GHOST was also my first chance to record
with old friends Dyan Maracle, Jim Layeux, Tim Harrison and Kid Carson
as well as newer friends David Woodhead and John Sheard (who mixed
the final album). It was a welcome chance, again, to work with Matt
Zimbel, John Adames, Paul Corby, Chris Whiteley, and my friend Michael
Smith (who is my nominee as the finest songwriter in the English language).
Lastly, or course, there is Kevin Bell. Kevin came
along just in time to remind me that there is nothing I enjoy more
than writing and playing music. He is my friend, and most treasured
musical companion, and with luck I will have the privilege of working
with him for many years to come.
I hope, Ben, that you do not mind that STUBBORN GHOST
does not make you the son of a wealthy musician. I've always written
songs for people, not "markets", and that makes my work hard to slot
in these days of rigid commercial categorization. I don't mind if
Of course, by the time you unearth a dusty copy of
this album years from now, there may no longer be appropriate machinery
on which to play a vinyl "record". You and your friends may find yourselves
staring mystified at this oversized black disk, wondering whether
the ancients used it to serve up snacks, or perhaps flung it about
in backyard recreational sport. If need be, try the local museum and
perhaps they may let you give it a spin. I hope you like it.
Webmaster's update:Ten of the twelve tracks from Stubborn Ghost are
included on the recently reissued CD Skysongs... A Writer's Collection. Six of the songs were recorded by other artists for One Voice, A Tribute to Norm Hacking, Volume 1, now available.
For more of Norm's prose:
Click here to read Norm's December 19, 1999 Toronto
Star feature article, "Looking for Christmas: A Songwriter's Journey."
Click here for September 2000 Taxi News column Norm
wrote about his good friend the late Lloyd Landa.
Click here for the index to Norm's lyrics,
poetry and prose on this website.