I’m in a pretty bad place these days. I won’t trouble you with details, but the long and the short of it is: long term commitments are hard. Bloody fucking hard. I’m at a point in my life where I can’t go on living the ways things have been for the last 10 years, but the roadblocks stopping me from taking that next great leap forward into a whole new world are just too big. They’re insurmountable. It’d be easier to take off, leave all this behind and start over somewhere where I have no ties, no history.
So what do I do? I turn to music, my escape, my consolation. I put on Joel Plaskett‘s EMERGENCYs, false alarms, shipwrecks, castaways, fragile creatures, special features, demons and demonstrations, and the lyrics to first song, “On The Rail” jump out at me and slap me on the face:
“I wanna find me a whole new world/a whole new world/at the edge of the earth/I want a place no one has been/and I wanna get there first… I wanna place/named after me/is that too much to ask?… I wanna take my chances with you/I wanna set my heart on the rail… I wanna leave them all behind/all behind/my family and friends/I’m gonna seek/and they’re going find/they’re never gonna see me again… any place is better than here/let’s get this show on the road/I wanna find me a brand new land… I want that feeling when I hold your hand/I wanna set my heart on the rail…”
And there it was. Everything I’ve been thinking and feeling today, everything I couldn’t say to the people around me, all the unspoken truths I’d been holding in my heart, was being voiced by a musician living half a continent away, someone I’d never met, someone who doesn’t know me from a speck of dirt. It was too much to hold in any longer:
“When I arrive/this place I find/Is never gonna be the same/I wanna find me a whole new world.”
I’m man enough to admit that I had myself a good, cathartic cry. I sat back, cracked a beer, and listened to EMERGENCYs… and thought a lot about what it represents for Plaskett: the fruits of over ten years of hard work and labour, all of it not easy, I’m sure.
“On The Rail” is actually about John Cabot taking off for the new world, commissioned by the CBC for their SongQuest series of songs inspired by Canadian landmarks. When I figured that out I had myself a little chuckle and felt the burden lift off my shoulders a bit. But that’s the healing power of music, right? It’s open to interpretation and one person’s inspiration can be a solace.
So, Joel, if you happen to read this, I’m sorry I didn’t do a full on review of the disc. It’s great, though. As a fan I love the collection and am looking forward to your next disc (and I promise I’ll do it justice with an extensive write-up). But all the same, thanks for giving me want I needed tonight: the strength to get up tomorrow morning and face my journey head on.
I wish I could post “On the Rail” for you, but it’s not been cleared as a download, so I think you should go out and get EMERGENCYs, false alarms, shipwrecks, castaways, fragile creatures, special features, demons and demonstrations for yourself. It’s out right now on Plaskett’s own New Scotland Records (his first exclusive release on the label). Why wait? You can buy it here right now.
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