Might be the best song I ever wrote. Carolyn and I tells the story of a fictional couple who live through the flooding of 2013 in Minden, Ontario. No, it’s not as big as Calgary and the Prime Minister never flew over it. But the individual tragedies were as big – sometimes bigger – as people lost all they had.
People ask me – “Who’s Carolyn?” I’ll leave that as a mystery. Yes, once again, there’s a lot of autobiography in this. This couple that had been married 31 years – coincidentally, the same number of years Linda and I have been together.
Yes, we just bought our house at Clear Lake after years of being cottagers, we bought the home of our dreams in Haliburton County.
But the song has a bigger meaning. It’s about more than us.
The inspiration from the song came from seeing the river slowly rise to engulf so much of Minden. It grew in my thoughts as I thought of the individual people and their stories – as we talked at the check out in the stores, as one will do in a small town. There are no strangers.
So I dedicated the song to the Minden Flood relief. Ian Pay let me record it at his studio and played bass on the track. My great friend David Bathe came in to play guitar with me. Tammy Rea, a local videographer did an astounding job on the video production. And the unstoppable Marie Gage and her equally incredible husband Don put together the project, the distribution, the publicity campaign and all the rest – oh, yes, did I mention that while they were doing all this Don and Marie were also coping with the damage to their own place?
Everyone donated their time. I donated the song.
I had real trouble ending this song. The tragedy was too great. I couldn’t leave these people as victims. They are not victims by any stretch of the imagination. So I struggled.
Then I played an open stage with Sean, who owns the Dominion Hotel. When he played his set, it was so amazing to see him joke about having “only swim up bar in the county”. He made us laugh – but it was laughter at the edge of tears. It was defiant.
I knew how the song had to end. With the hope and courage of these neighbours of mine.
POSTSCRIPT – I got to play this song as a warm-up to Blue Rodeo stars Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor. Didn’t meet Jim, but what a fantastic guy Greg is. The song raised some money – glad to see that – but it has lasted as an enduring song in its own right.
Listen to Carolyn and I