When I got separated from my first wife…it was sudden and dramatic. I came home from work one day, to find she had changed the locks. I had only the clothes on my back and my car. But, in the days leading up to my exile, I had a gut feeling that the end was nigh! So, I put my portable recording gear, guitar, cables and microphone in my trunk…just in case. That turned out to be one of my best “Be Prepared” moments ever…as I found myself separated and homeless just a few days later. And though I had no toothpaste, change of pants, or place to sleep, I at least had the bare-minumum gear needed to write and record music. Thank God for small mercies!
I found shelter at a friend’s summer cabin (in the dead of winter). It was rustic, and isolated, but it had power. That, and my gear, was all I needed. So I got to work with the jams Jim and I had recorded that same week. And very quickly, in that cabin, I was able to cobble together the first 2 songs that REMEDY ever wrote: “Any Other Way”, and what would end up being our fan favorite, “Up from the Bottom”.
The recording set-up was just the bare essentials, using an old Samson microphone, a portable multi-track (Roland VS-2480), and a Stratocaster through a kidney POD. No mic stand. Not my dream studio, by any means! But that simplicity and lack of options turned out to be a blessing, as the lo-fi gear and spartan environment helped produce a more authentic track…cutting away all distractions to better expose a potent emotional core. The marital collapse I was living through at the time couldn’t help but infuse the music! I was experiencing alternating, frequent waves of anxiety, discontent, and exhaustion. There were countless highs and lows. Battles were won, lost and abandoned. And after what seemed like forever and a month…there finally came acceptance, and moving on. I wasn’t just telling this story…I was living it.
Despite it’s raw feel and simple production (or perhaps because of it?), the song did end up striking an emotional chord with many people. Our jaws collectively dropped when we learned that about half the radio stations that received it had put it on the air! Our radio tracker was so pleased that she and her hubby showed up with a bottle of champagne to celebrate! It ended up getting commercial airplay right across Canada, from St. John’s to Victoria! To see that little song I arranged in that tiny cottage with obsolete gear, end up being broadcast all across the nation, was surreal! The song I wrote, when I was at the bottom, had lifted me up! A case of life, imitating art, imitating life!
Having my marriage fail so spectacularly, after only 10 months, and in such a public fashion (and on the front page of a local gossip rag, “Doctor Charged with Assault”…nice, eh?) did seem like a disaster at the time. And up to that point, it was the hardest challenge I had yet faced. But the memory of that sweet lemonade we managed to squeeze out of those bitter lemons, did ultimately provide the proof I’d need, so that the next time chaos invaded my life, I could declare with unwavering conviction, that better days lie ahead, and this misery too, shall pass. This lesson, and many others like it, have since taught me that even amidst the most tumultuous disarray, hope and perserverance can ultimately rise above it. Hope, acts as if imbued with an inherent buoyancy, as it were, that has the power to lift us out of the trenches of suffering and discontent. Perhaps the most buoyant thing of all….not the disaster, but what arises out of it…a new you! A better version of the person you used to be, but with greater endurance, perspective and wisdom than before. The disaster set the stage that allowed those truly effervescent qualities to rise to the surface and be recognized!
What buoed-up from my life’s disaster? Many great things….our debut album, among them! But the best part…I finally came to know who I really was. At last, I started getting completely comfortable in my own skin. I stopped pretending to be someone else. And then finally, for the first time ever, I found someone who liked me for who I was, without any facade or illusion. I felt like I could truly be myself in her presence. We’re now 9 years married, and I love her even more today than I did the day I married her!
It’s quite possibly true, that if not for the worst relationship of my life (my first marriage), I would not have found the best relationship of my life (my current one). Because only after my first marriage failed, did I finally gain the emotional maturity to cultivate a successful partnership. It took me a while….probably longer than most… but eventually I did grow up. As it turns out, I just had to hit bottom before I could get there. And thankfully now, when disaster strikes, I know that one or way or another, better days lie ahead.
If one theme could be attached to our debut album, it would be that of redemption. Relentlessly rising from a sinking disaster. Growing up….from the bottom.
Being able to share these experiences with you, through music, has been the great priviledge of my life! There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing that our music has connected with someone out there!
So thank you for joining me on this ride upwards and beyond! I hope you find it intereting.
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