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Fred Eaglesmith at The Ark Music Theatre Review - Rock'n'Roll Country, Humor, and High Entertainment

By Robert Thibodeau

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You have to see and hear it for yourself to believe it. YouTube can’t give it to you, you’ve got to be present. Fred Eaglesmith has once again surprised us with his ability to do something new in music, while continuing to sound like himself in classic rock-style and easy folk listening. Eaglesmith is touring with his new grunge rock alt-gospel CD, ‘ Tinderbox’. To ‘FredHeads,’ it’s not just rock‘n’roll, it’s another ingenious original turn for Fred Eaglesmith.  It’s music on the road, where a Kerouac type troubadour asks tough questions, shares the view, and goes golden scriptural country.  Most would recognize this new CD as country rock gospel folk and good old time religion. It’s also non-religious bluegrass music with a soul to make you cry, think hard, and smile without reason. How Fred does this, no one knows for sure, but it’s high-wire entertainment and deep insight as well.

Every place Fred sings is a garden of friends

The song ‘Chain Gang’ sounds like a gutsy growling Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart wrestling Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie in the underground Bob Dylan movie ‘Masked and Anonymous,’ and that’s only the beginning. One thing is for sure, Eaglesmith is one serious singer-songwriter with more insights than Nashville and Austin have guitar picks and crickets. Check out any of his many album CDs and see for yourself. Amaze your family and friends. Better yet, get yourself to one of his live concerts. Touring 200 days a year to an average of 200 or more people a concert, Fred says, “It’s the middle way between ‘rock star’ and poverty, where a man can be not too big, not too small, not too rich, not too poor, but just right. Telling the audience between songs at The Ark in Ann Arbor, “If you want to be happy, make small dreams come true. Think small; have just enough.”

The band is growling tight and a kick

Fred has written over 70 songs that others cover. Toby Keith, Dar Williams, The Cowboy Junkies, Kasey Chambers, Mary Gauthier, Ralph Stanley II, just to name a few. If he’s thinking small is big, he just might be right. Every song is a seed growing new friends and new towns to play in. Fred is keeping his ‘Shoulder To The Plow,’ as his song goes, and every song is a prayer, a work in progress, a major story, and event to the listener. Fred’s songs are in a Martin Scorsese and a James Caan movie. Each song tells a heartbreaking story filled with feet on the ground, promise for the future, and love gone astray but coming back. How he does this brings thousands of friends back to his concerts. In ‘Get On Your Knees’ you’re not sure at first if the minister, or ‘minstrel,’ wants you to get down on your knees to pray, or to get down on your knees for another deep spirited insight backed by riveting musical precision. Fred refers to his band as the Salvation Band. For the hungry artist or poet in you, Fred is musical nourishment. For the human and world dilemma we’re all in, Fred is good news. The song ‘Killing Me’ blisters true confession gospel feeling as Fred sings, “I can’t get out and I don’t fit in, this old world is killing me. If I die I’ll just come back again, this old world is killing me ...”. In the song, ‘You Can’t Trust Them,’ Fred works dark religious politics singing “… they count up hours until you can’t pay … quietly they take everything you have”. With the politics of a dirt farmer, truck driver, freight train traveler, or work camp escapee, Fred lets the listener discover how each of us is at the crossroads. Each song is a personal invitation to the situation at hand.

Fred testifies

‘Shoulder To The Plow’ (co-written by Mary Gauthier) rings deep into the well of hard working people continuing to believe and willing to go forward. The lyric “If your well goes dry, the tears that you cry will water that thirsty ground,” borders on Emerson’s book, ‘Self Reliance,’ and Frank Zappa’s injunction to not drop out, but join in. Fred Eaglesmith is both a freight train full of songs and a major singer-songwriter tractor plowing up the field. Fred is a musical genius gunning for truth with a target stronger than Ted Nugent saying anything is game. Fred sings “Shovel in your hand, faith in your feet, if you want to find heaven, you gotta dig deep” and the audience is teleported into a church where suffering turns to joy. This is definitely not Donovan or Britney Spears. In “Tinderbox” Fred en-tones, “The elders and the deacons are dancing like a bar, the children are screaming like they’re trapped inside a car. The world’s about to end, and everybody knows.” There are no hostages being taken here and it rivals Jesus’ biblical injunction that this “generation is like children in the market place who call to their Elders, ‘We piped to you but you didn’t dance, we lamented but you didn’t mourn”. Every Fred Eaglesmith song is a song of hope seeing the situation clear. “Well out on the corner of third and green, they’re dealing prescription amphetamines, and you count your fingers when you shake their hand, cause they steal your wealth as fast as they can … They’re selling souls and they’re dealing people.” - Fred Eaglesmith, ‘You Can’t Trust Them’. Heck, this music gets down and gritty, and darn entertaining to boot. During the break in the back room, Fred told me “I do everything I can not to be a Rock Star”. He was also pretty darn critical of love songs, but played one every six songs or so when back on stage. His love songs are heartbreakingly beautiful and instill daunting silence in the heart of the listener to believe again -- in life, in reality, in the possibility to get up again.

The world is Fred's stage

Fred also said that at one time or another, he opened for everybody. Everybody but Johnny Cash, who he would have opened for if Cash hadn’t canceled the show due to illness. Mentioning how he opened for a thousand country acts including George Jones, Eaglesmith went on a long very humorous rant about the charade and imitation, the fakery, of many a music act. How he once knew a famous singer who had a look-alike fake the performance while the real guy runs down the road with the money. Now that may be a managerial art and science, but it’s not real. Fred is an insider’s insider, a singer-songwriter’s singer-songwriter. Fred’s the only Canadian ever to have written a #1 hit on the Bluegrass charts. During the concert at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Fred told so many jokes between songs that I wondered for a moment if he was moving away from music to comic social commentary. The shock of Eaglesmith’s next reality driven line, or very next lyric has a way to wake you up. Often Fred would humorously reflect a mass market mind set in his words of insight. His gestures, Johnny Cash stance and long coat, his serious face, allow the audience to see insight and humor in the simplest human experience. Tragedy in the most majestic; a golden nugget hidden in the most tragic gives much color to the music and story. In Fred Eaglesmith’s world, we’re all traveling a road less traveled, and he’s here to point out clues to the right track. In the simplest ways, his music is both heart- and eye-opening. Fred is not a dead head, he makes you think and laugh and wake up a little.

Fred is not afraid to go anywhere in a song

Mentioning how he wanted to start a new political party where no one ran, to another joke stating how “if everyone held hands, a lot of people would drown”, Fred continues to prove himself in story telling and comedy between songs. You’ll find yourself musing on your own life, as well as how we all got put together. Sometimes you just have be there to know. Gosh, maybe I am becoming a ‘FredHead’. The day you get it, you too will become a ‘FredHead’. Here, music is religion, the audience is the boom-box and chorus, our minds are the fields of dreams, insight and entertainment. Fred delivers his musical sermon to an audience ready for strong participation, talk back and laughter. Applause and all eyes light up with appreciation and  response. One minute you feel transported to an Appalachian honesty only simple living can give, the next minute you jam with Fred rocking the house with strong rhythmic leads and a staggering leg action rivaling any Neil Young squeeze box lead guitar jam. When I told him such, he quickly confessed that he is no where near Neil Young and only just starting to get the guitar thing. After another blazing rock song, Fred immediately tells the joke of two Irish guys fishing. One catches a fish who offers him any wish if he throws the fish back into the lake. He throws the fish back, gets his wish turning the lake into Guinness Stout Beer and jumps in. Calling to his buddy back on the boat “Isn’t this great!? The whole lake is beer!” The friend in the boat yells back complaining “Now you’ve wrecked it! Now we have to pee in the boat!” Before the audience has begun to stop laughing, Eaglesmith is banging out another hot driving song. He sweeps us away into another blistering stark reality story of a person, much like ourselves, in a world where we are called upon by the spirit of the moment to see. To see in time, to realize, to awaken, to attempt to make sense of it all, while holding ground and presence in what it truly means to be human. Eaglesmith can make you a believer in the power of musical prairie.

With growling lead rhythms, Fred tells a story

makes you feel good, more human, more ready to see. Maybe that’s his talent and trick. He makes you feel that it’s OK to hurt, it’s ok to talk and sing about it, it’s ok to find humorous insight in each and every moment no matter how tragic, mundane, or simple. Some call it “alt-gospel” or “more a revival, than a concert”. It’s more than something to believe in, it’s something to experience. Fred Eaglesmith never fails to deliver. In some 35 years of playing concerts, he continues to surprise and simply amaze you with his simplicity, his passion for raw music, his ever new insight and truth, and his amazing compassion for anybody and anything no matter how small, forlorn, or forgotten. It’s like Willy Nelson meets Buddha. Maybe it’s Buddha meets Willie. It’s like insights Ryan Adams would have after 3 years on a farming tractor. It’s like you suddenly quit love songs and start to defend the poor, the weak, the animal in every backyard. It’s like the insight everyone gets right before death, but we still got a few days to change, to wake up, to sing truth and what comes with it. It’s like you just realized everyone is friend but maybe you haven’t been enough of a friend to yourself. Eaglesmith makes you believe. “Quietly, I stare into the mirror. There’s a man in there I used to know. He’s so tired of all her sadness and all of her tears, so quietly I’ll just let her go.” Somehow in letting go, you feel that you will never let go of what really matters. Fred Eaglesmith’s music is full of the lost-and-found in everyone. Every concert is full of faith and hope. You know the charity part is working when more than one person offers you a beer. This old tree just keeps giving apples, that’s country. At The Ark, Fred played many of his old hit songs, weaving them right in with the new ones. ‘I Like Trains’ and more, continuing to amaze me, sounding like old time steer herder meets Texas singer-songwriter. It’s the likes of Guthrie, Dylan, Springsteen, and others, but Fred has somehow got into the front locomotive with his hand on the throttle ever feeding coal into the fire. Fred Eaglesmith is like an old tree that just keeps giving apples, knowing no winter to hold him, it’s just another good song coming down the tracks.

The outside is the inside looking back at you

Fred is from Ontario, Canada. He will remind you of other great singer-songwriters, but nobody will remind you of Fred Eaglesmith. There is only one, and once you see him in concert, you will become a believer too; a believer in the common man, the every man, the self-reliant of Emerson, the ‘walk in every man’s shoes’ of the native in the wilderness of heart and soul, it’s extra-ordinary. Fred finishes another heart rending song ground out with his drummer Cory, his keyboard and guitar player Matt, and his bass player Luke, then he turns back to the audience after affirming the band saying, “An Elephant comes out of the jungle, sees a naked man and immediately says, “How you gonna eat with that?””. Then, after a bit of a pause to let some of the audience catch up to him, Fred says, “It’s deer season. A man comes running out of the woods yelling, ‘I’m not a deer! I’m not a deer!’ A guy behind the bush shoots him. His friend responds, ‘Why did you do that? He said he wasn’t a deer!’ The man who shot said, ‘I thought he said he was a deer.’ Fred then tells the audience to think about it. Not all the audience got it. He then said you could get enlightenment from that joke, liberated. When you ‘get it’, you won’t have to come back again. I assume this is a buddhist related joke about not having to reincarnate at the same level of awareness and body, or something. A comment on the world at hand, how people don’t look for themselves, they trust whatever someone says, or worse, whatever you think they said. Maybe Freud was wrong and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. At various times throughout the concert, Fred would blurt out “I thought he said he was a deer”. I remember years ago at one of his concerts when Fred said, “Sometimes it’s just a cigar”.
Fred Eaglesmith very well may be the ‘Billy Goats Gruff’ out from under the bridge reminding us that the bridge should go somewhere, each moment is full of salvation and meaningful experience to the awakened. His songs redeem dead thinking and rekindle a spark of life. Eaglesmith also proves that rock ‘n’ roll revivals still have a lot of new paths, halls and doorways yet to travel. Fred is more than a ‘Working Class Hero’ as depicted in John Lennon’s song, he is art in progress, a revelation sparking every man, every woman, who dreams of earning their own peace and happiness. It’s more than freedom at work, more than social service, it’s ardent true love for every situation, every human circumstance being right for individual redemption and enlightenment. Fred Eaglesmith is a troubadour and craftsman mastering the art of being human, all the while creating the space and time for us to be more human too.

Eaglesmith is a Frank Zappa and a Woody Guthrie combined with Bruce Springsteen

The Interview

I caught Fred Eaglesmith on the phone while he was driving from one gig to the next on a Monday afternoon in September 2008.

Q. What happened to your band name ‘ The Flying Squirrels’?
A. Well, after Willie died, I thought that was the end of that band. I wanted to start fresh. Now, it’s just ‘ Fred Eaglesmith’. Not in print it’s called ‘the salvation army’ but that’s illegal so we don’t call it that. That’s a secret name. If it’s an adjective, it’s ok.
Q. Well there’s a lot of redemption and salvation in your songs. Whenever a friend thinks that they are suffering too much in life, I play them that song of yours about a farmer who’s losing his land to the bank, but he keeps planting seeds and working the farm, ending up dying on his tractor on the day the bank is coming to repossess his farm. People always feel better for some reason after listening to that song.
A. Right. To a Buddhist friend of mine I said that I don’t know if it’s any good putting all these sad songs out there in the universe, and he told me, “They make people happy”.
Q. And that you can only go up from there …
A. Laughter, “yea, I guess…”
Q. So many of your songs are tragic yet they are really funny and you levitate in the middle of the song or something.
A. Because that’s what life is, right? It is tragically funny, and if you get to that place in life where you can smirk about it, go.
You know I just watched that movie ‘The Man In the Moon’ with Andy Kaufman. Andy tricked everyone all the time, that was his gig, he fooled people all the time. And he got cancer and goes to the Philippines to get cured. The guy who was healing everybody was totally a fraud and he catches him and he just starts laughing. He himself was a total fraud all his whole life and he now needs help in a life or death situation and the guy is a fraud and it’s hilarious. (Laughter).
Q. Do you think of yourself as a Buddhist or even a student of Buddhism at times?
A. Well, you know the ‘goal of Buddhism’ is sort of to ‘not be a Buddhist’!? So the way to not be a Buddhist is usually first to be a Buddhist, so I thought I’d just skip that step.
Q. (Laughter) And do you think the way to be an artist or a musician anymore is you’re just pure music or pure living?
We’re slightly interrupted at this point, losing reception on the phone. Fred comes back and states they are pulling the truck over “so the band can have a smoke in front of the bowling alley and be real cool.” He laughs.
A. So the point was to not be an artist or … I think the closer you can get to not being anything, the better you are. Then you’re nothin’. A dog’s nothin’, a dog doesn’t even know he’s a dog.
Q. During our talk in your dressing room between sets, you were pretty critical about people who write love songs. On stage you made jokes about love songs, but you write really beautiful love songs and played some?
A. I just think the world has enough of them (i.e.. love songs) and we don’t have enough songs about other things. I like love songs but I’m so past that a relationship with a woman is the most important thing of my life. That is just so far beyond where my head is. I think we in North America have made that so important compared with what is really important; that is, that you are going to die.
Q. The Tibetan Lama Gelek Rimpoche once said, “You Americans have made such a big thing of love and sex that it becomes a big thing and wrecks your life”.
A. That’s exactly how I feel. A relationship is like eating, you have to do it. You can’t always give it the attention that it should get. Therefore you end up eating junk food and it gets bad for you, instead of putting it (i.e. a relationship) in the corner and saying “this is a part of life”. But in our society, it’s everything.
Q. Yea.
Q. I heard your childhood was being brought up on farmland. Do you garden now?
A. I do nothing of that now. I almost live on the road a full 100% of the time. I’m not home. If I’m home, I’m recovering from being on the road or getting ready to be on the road. I plan on getting back to that some day in sort of a therapeutic way once the road’s done with me. Once it chews me up and spits me out, I’ll go back to simple living again. But right now, it feels like it’s really good to be out here.
Q. Well, I feel that you’re gardening souls, pulling the weeds that stop us from seeing for ourselves. You’re like a traveling music preacher in the likes of Hank Williams or Woody Guthrie. Those guys were on the road all the time too.
I noticed in your last concert during the jams in the song, the way you jammed and moved on stage reminded some of us of Neil Young jamming with his band.
A. Well Neil Young is a way better guitar player, but I think it’s because we both work from the same place and that is that Neil would take a lot of risk when he played the guitar. I don’t know how to play the guitar, so I’m taking a lot of risk. So, every note is like a thank you.
Q. It seems you’re taking a heavy risk revealing so honestly what’s happening to human beings who are suffering or something. You’re like a troubadour, a ministry guy or something.
A. Right. Well, what I’m really trying to do … and it’s so funny. I got a review lately, and it was a really good article and everything. It said there was a negative side to my personality. I thought, wow! That used to be called the Truth.
I thought, what was the negative side of my personality? I thought it was that I have no choice but to tell the TRUTH. And the truth, especially when it comes to fundamentalism these days, and all religions these days, is that it’s not allowed. It’s not allowed. You know, anything in this world that says you can’t question it is to me, in my mind, saying the radar is already blaring.
One of the reasons I embraced Buddhism a little bit was that I was allowed to question every part of it. I was allowed to even change it. I was allowed to question it to the point that it would change if I could prove it wrong. That is so freeing compared to fundamentalism.
So, my thing with the audience is … and I lose fans over it and I gain some ... is to question us all. What are we doing? So many artists act like they have the answer and I think sometimes people go away from my concerts with no answers but just questions, and I think that’s not such a bad thing.
Q. It seems you are a troubadour reporting the news.
A. Yea, part of the thing with religion is yea, I’m reporting the news. But part of the thing I’m trying to do is that I’m really trying to get the ‘baby-boomers’ in my audience to go one more time, to give it one more question, to not be so comfortable because they are so comfortable. You know, I don’t attack religion or say anything negative about religion other than I ask the questions about it because I really have compassion for religious people. I have compassion for them in the fact that I go ‘this is what you need,’ but I couldn’t live in a neighborhood in the suburbs. I can’t live there, but some people need to live there. I have compassion for it. From my point of view, they probably have compassion for me for not believing in it and not living in the neighborhood. That’s their privilege and their right. I don’t criticize them. I just go, ‘let’s question the neighborhood’.
Q. It does seem that when you’re singing about the person in the back row of the church, you’re back there with them.
A. Yes, and I have so much compassion for that person in the very back row, and I am not going to criticize them. Like I said at my concert, if they have to carve a stick and worship it to make themselves feel better, so be it. It’s a short time here in this existence, 70 or 80 years. Whatever you need to get through it. I don’t care if you’re worshipping the ‘Pez dispenser.’ I am just saying that we should be allowed to question it.
Q. When you sing the song ‘Killing Me,’ one feels like this world is killing us, but there is something else in the song that is very alive and moving us positively forward.
A. Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying. This world is killing me, but it doesn’t say I am dying ‘cus this world is killing me. Eventually, with enough work, the suffering becomes joy. The fact that you are alive to suffer becomes the joy. It may seem elitist or presumably evolved, but really when you get to that place where there is so much suffering that it becomes the joy, you say, ok, you can’t do anything to me anymore. It’s like new country music is always positive right now, but it’s exactly the opposite. It sounds positive but you just feel that it’s suffering. (Laughter.)
Q. Do you feel that you are writing country music?
A. No. I’m back to rock and roll right now. I don’t think I’m country anymore. I just had to walk away from it, as soon as people saw me they assumed I was singing that kind of music and it turned a lot of people off before giving me a chance. So I really feel like putting it all in a rock ‘n’ roll context. Right now, rock ‘n’ roll feels a little more alive to me. You know, Jimi Hendrix said “A song is only as good as the present air”. Well, it feels very rock ‘n’ roll to me. In other words, a song is only as good as it feels right now in the universe. The universe right now feels like rock ‘n’ roll to me, whereas when if felt like country it did, when it felt like blues it did, but right now it feels like rock ‘n’ roll to me. Like a song that felt so alive ten years ago, won’t be alive, because the present air has killed it. And it will come back too. We love Credence Clearwater Revival, then we don’t like them, then we love them again. I think the present air is screaming rock ‘n’ roll.
Q. It seems having listened to all your 17 CDs through the years, that rock ‘n’ roll is a constant. It often feels like any new song you come up with is already a hit without being a hit, like you heard it already even though it’s new.
A. Laughs. It’s because, you know, I’m a strong melody writer. In other words, I am a limited musician and that makes me write songs that I can sing. I am a limited musician and that used to be a curse, but now that’s a blessing.
Q. Well you certainly have always had a great band with you. Are there other bands you like?
A. All the bands I like, you don’t know. All the bands I listen to these days are coming from nowhere. I previously told you about Dale Jett. There’s a guy out of Texas named Sam Baker. There’s a friend of mine named Hayes Carl I like, but there’s nothing on the radar that I like.
Q. Well, it does seem like reviewers have a tough time nailing down who you are or what type of music that you play.
A. To me it’s so simple who I am, but it seems so complicated from the outside. I am a real simple ordinary human.
Q. I know people compare you to lots of people. Bruce Springsteen meets Tom Waits, or Woody and Hank. But here’s a new one for you. At times you resemble the old Captain Beefheart. You might just be a secret Frank Zappa of country rock blues and a Captain Beefheart just telling it like it is with a rusty voice.
A. (He laughs) Very Funny. I hardly know any Captain Beefheart. I made a record in the 80’s that sold a thousand or less copies. Someone came up with a tape of a Frank Zappa concert from back there where Frank said, “Hey there’s this kid up there in Canada named Fred Eaglesmith, and if you ever get a chance…” I said, O really? I couldn’t believe it. You never know how it goes.
Q. Under the table, I know we’re all connected, it’s just one big family, except sometimes people sit on opposite sides of the table and start arguing, but it’s all one table, one earth, one song. Some of the other things you do? I heard people can ride the rails with Fred.
A. Yea, we ride trains. We rent an engine and four or five cars. We’re going to be in New Mexico this month and next month we’re going up to see the polar bears, four days on trains. Musicians play on the train. There’s cab cars, there’s concert cars where you sit and have a drink and watch the band. There’s sleeper cars where you can go to sleep for a while or watch the world go by out your window. It’s just amazing.
Q. Hobo Java? That’s your store? And you sell electric scooters?
A. Yea, we sell scooters that run on batteries. You plug them in and they’ll go 60 or 70 miles on a charge and they’re quite amazing. In Canada you don’t need a license or insurance for them. It’s just a part of our store. We sell supplies, coffee, vintage guitars, give lessons.
Q. What about Bob Dylan? Were you influenced much by him?
A. Yea, I’m a really huge fan of Bob Dylan, and the reason being is I love the albums nobody loves of Bob Dylan, the ones getting killed by the critics. I’m going ‘listen to this beautiful album you idiot!’ And the thing I loved about Bob more than anything, first of all he’s just brilliant, but second of all, he just stayed the course, he just kept working, still working. When everybody turned their back on Bob Dylan, he kept working. When everybody is for Bob Dylan, he just keeps working. That for me is the sign of a true gift, like he can’t help it.
Q. Yes. Are there any songs that pop into your mind?
A. I love all the songs. One of my favorite records is ‘Straight Legal.’ There’s a really great song called ‘Senor.’ It was panned by the critics but I’ve listened to that record a million times.
Q. I saw some of your paintings on your website. What’s that about?
A. I like to paint postcard like pictures, not artistically clever ones, just postcard pictures. I hope to do that. I hope to make the bad jazz records. When you go to seed, it’s sort of over, and I like the fact that I can go and do just relaxing things that are not as intense.
Q. Rudolf Steiner’s painting technique is to paint light, then the darker matter on that. That we’re light beings clothed in matter.
A. Yea, I know exactly what he’s talking about. But I’ll tell you how I paint those paintings which is really cool. And I’m writing songs where I caught a flash, I don’t think about it, I spend no time on it, I just paint ‘em.  And now I write songs like that. I don’t think about them, I don’t plan them, I just write them and they are done. I accept what’s been given to me. That’s thirty years of work that’s becomes again like a child. You know?
Q. You’re not channeling?
A. You’re not channeling. You’re just being. You’re saying, I’m just saying, I’m like a three year old kid. He draws a picture and shows mom the picture. Then we all put the picture on the ‘fridge’. Well that’s what I’m doing now. I’m just painting a picture, I’m writing the song, and I’m just putting it up on the fridge.
Q. Laughter. I did have the thought that it was ‘kid-like,’ only better than the kid cus the adult is there. It’s playful.
A. Very playful and the other thing is with the kid’s picture, the reason we usually smirk at it is that the ‘technique’ isn’t there. And that’s exactly what’s going on with my art. All artists, all the art gallery people I’ve met in the world said ‘technically you are a disaster, you have no idea what you are doing, you are all wrong.’ But it’s all right!
Q. When you write songs, is there a food you like to eat? A right time or day you like?
A. No, if I’m working on something, I just work on it. I just make the song. If I need to write a song, I can write a song. I can write one right now. I just write the song.
Q. And you may write about the cricket we hear in the background?
A. Yea, or something. Yea, ok, I write the song, and it turns into an amazing thing. And if I do that it’s way better than laboring over some sort of preciousness that I want to deliver. So I used to do a little more, deliver preciousness. Now I am not delivering preciousness. I’m delivering … I’m delivering, nothing. I’m just saying, here, this is the way it is, and shaking your hand.
Q Do you have a favorite guitar you’re using?
A. Ah … you know, the one I'm using now, the one you’re always using is your favorite. The one I’m using now, I really love it.
Q. Do you collect guitars?
A. I collect them but I only allow myself to have a few, and the others I put in my store. I only allow something for a short time then I let go.
Q. Any advice for people who want to be musicians and some day make a living doing it, or someday even play out live?
A. Yes. This is what musicians should do. They should get on FOREX and get a practice account buying and selling currency. Learn to trade currencies. If you can accomplish that, you can be a professional musician.
Q. In the sense of making a living at it?
A. No, not making a living. If you can accomplish that. If you can turn that into a positive. In other words, you don’t lose your account. If you can stop losing your play money, you can be a musician. The percentage of people successful at being a musician are exactly the same as being a FOREX trader, except that you can be a FOREX trader all day. And you can practice and practice and practice. If you don’t have the discipline to learn that, you will not have the discipline to become a full-time musician.
Q. Do you have any advice for people who already are successful musicians and the future of music?
A. Yea. Really really do it yourself. Do everything yourself. Don’t let anyone do anything for you other than a publicist or agent. Don’t let anyone put out your records. There’s nobody who has the secrets. Nobody has the answer but you. This is the best thing I can tell all musicians, trust your hunch. And if your hunches are wrong, get down on the math, do the math. But trust your hunches.
Thanks Fred, you’re great. (click)

Fred Eaglesmith’s website is http://www.fredeaglesmith.com 

Published on Dec 31, 1969

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