The Fishmonger Song

Listen: RealAudio 28.8
Fishmonger: Someone who sells fish. A fishmonger might sell his sole by the pound

Tread the boards: To perform as an actor on stage

Spit Fridays: An open stage hosted by The Leslie Spit Treeo. It was a community as well as an event, and I still treasure the friends I made there.

The Story
Back in high school, I was involved in the Drama Club. I really enjoyed acting, and I think I was pretty good at it. I certainly have a good audio memory... by the end of the first play, I knew everyone else's part as well as they themselves did. With practise and training, I might have become a professional. But no, I was too smart for that. Acting isn't a practical field to get into.

My great-grandfather on my father's side, David Bentley, was a lot of things, including an actor and musician. Maybe this stuff's in my blood.

Music certainly is. My mother has perfect pitch. She can name any note I can play. She plays piano, violin and viola. My grandmother also played viola. My grandfather played harmonica. My aunts play piano and cello. My great-grandfather on my mother's side had this habit of gathering a bunch of people and turning them into a choir.

I enjoyed playing flute in the school band. I nearly even learned to read music. (I can read music, I just can't play at the same time.) My friend Shane Gallant's compositions, like "So Long Father", suggested to me that maybe I too could compose, and compose I did. Perhaps I could have become a professional musician. But no, I was too smart for that. Music isn't a practical field to get into.

By 1996, I was working in an unfulfilling job, taking a year off from university. But attending the Spit Fridays open stage finally changed my thinking. I realised that doing what's practical and doing what's creative is not an either/or proposition. I can do both, and I'll be a better person for it.

I'm not about to quit my day job. For one thing, I love my day job. But I won't let that stop me from writing and performing music, and you may see me doing community theatre one of these days.

The story about the lawyer is true too. I met that guy at Spit Fridays, and only later learned that he had graduated from law school. As I recall, he practised real estate law for three months, hated it, and quit. Which just goes to show that choosing the practical over what you love is not always the practical choice.

The Song
I wrote this song in Israel, where I was visiting family. Wrote a bunch of it while waiting for the bus near the ruins at Cesaria. The melody was actually inspired by the "Logdriver's Waltz", which I encountered in the NFB film. Which is amusing in retrospect, because The Log Driver's Waltz is about a young woman who would chose a good dancer over someone more practical...

An early version finished with an explicit denial of the chorus, "goddammit I'm special...etc.", but now I figure that people get the message without being hit over the head with it.

Recording Notes
(see also My Sister's Guitar recording notes)

The Fishmonger song has 9 tracks, and I performed all of them:


Originally, I tried doing percussion on an african drum, but it just didn't sound right. I was damned if I was going to use maracas again, so I took the radical step of using no percussion.

The "soul" vocals are an additional harmony part used only in the final "soul" to punch it up.

Jeff Oussoren likes this song, and I asked him to come over an play on it, but when he came over, I ran into technical problems. Damn thing tried to record in 32 bits from a 16-bit sound card.

My sister, Trisha, thinks it sounds celtic.

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