This has been an time of mourning in Canada as we’ve heard of the passing Stuart McLean, whose Vinyl Cafe has found a place in the hearts of millions of people. Good stories grab us, and McLean was a master story teller who made us love Dave, Morley and all of the unbelievable and yet so completely believable details of their lives. If you’ve never heard an episode on the CBC on your weekend drive, you owe it to yourself to go and listen to one. Stories have the power to draw us together, and we need each other for our stories to have any meaning. Stories happen in the space between people, often in the subtle and ordinary and occasionally in the monumental and unexpected.
I read a book of essays by Marilynne Robinson earlier this year, and one line has stuck with me and rattled around in my head since then. “We do not deal with one another as soul to soul, and the churches are as answerable for this as anyone.” That’s a word I’ve needed to hear, because in this age of consumerism and perfectly curated social media personality brands, it’s easy to treat people as less than human. (I’m sure I’ll get into the “churches” bit in a later post) You, whoever you are, are not just a hit on my blog or a potential backer of my new album. You’re a person whose story has brought you here and I hope that whatever I create, whether this blog or songs I’m writing, will meet you in your story and draw you into one that’s bigger than either of us.
Creative callings for those who make some or all of their living as writers, musicians, actors or visual artists (to name only a few) are incredibly connected to the stories that they tell and how those stories interact with people. We have to care what people think and constantly be challenging ourselves to tell the story better. Everyone in every vocation helps to tell a story though, whether it’s the grocery shelf-stocker who is helping many tell the stories of hospitality and comfort food, or the engineer who is making sure that our stories of driving to work don’t include collapsing bridges. Our stories are intertwined, and we need each other to care for and create in this world.
As a songwriter, I need you because you are a soul that finds melodies and lyrics compelling in a way that draws both of us into a story that is bigger than our own. I need you to challenge and encourage me, and you need the same from others and even me. The stories of Stuart McLean have reminded me of that today. I need you for the stories I tell and you need me for the ones you tell, so lets tell them well while we’re still here.