In October we had the opportunity to hear Ron Sexsmith in concert in Bayfield. It was an intimate venue (probably seating about 120 people) and the concert featured Sexsmith solo, accompanying himself on guitar and, for a time, piano.
Now his was not an unknown name to us. In fact, his songs make do fairly regular appearances on CBC radio. The benefit of this is that his name is familiar to most regular CBC listeners. On the other hand, the songs don’t receive that repeated airplay (common in pop music stations) which grind the tunes into one’s brain.
Thanks to YouTube, however, you can find (as I discovered) dozens of his songs and performances.
First…a bit about the man.
Sexsmith was born in 1964 in St. Catharines, Ontario. He formed his own band at the age of 14 and was playing solo in his local bar at the age of 17. By the mid-eighties he was recording his own material and, over the years, has released fifteen albums.
His songwriting talent has been recognized by such artists as Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Chris Martin, Elton John, Ray Davies, Steve Earle and Sheryl Crow. His songs have been covered by notables such as Costello, Feist, Rod Stewart, k.d. lang and Emmylou Harris. He has recently become an author, releasing Deer Life in September this year and is now contemplating turning it into a musical (one song from this project was performed during the Bayfield concert).
But enough of background… I’ve chosen four songs which (I think) are representative of his skill as a songwriter.
Gold in Them Hills
Listen to this one a couple of times and then try to get it out of your head!
Who We Are Right Now
This is a song from his album, The Last Rider.
All in Good Time
From the 2006 album appropriately titled Time Being…
I mentioned that Sexsmith’s songs have been covered by others. Here’s k.d. lang‘s interpretation of his Fallen…
Ron Sexsmith is an artist whose music (if you didn’t know much about it before) is worth exploring further. Check out YouTube and his own website.
I’m closing, not with a song by Sexsmith himself… but with the song with which he closed his Bayfield concert. Tonight (November 6) there will be a concert in Montreal which pays tribute to the genius of Leonard Cohen. For the occasion the organizers have invited a number of well-known artists to perform Cohen songs. Ron Sexsmith will be there and will be channeling Cohen in his performance of Suzanne…
Here’s Ron Sexsmith performing on November 6th at the tribute concert in Montreal… (courtesy CBC)