Want to travel blind with Suzanne like a bird on a wire, seek a heart of gold and the idea of north, get back to the garden and give peace a chance (John Lennon recorded his anthem in Montreal)? Board TransCanada ’69, a one hour musical trip to a magical time featuring songs of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Lenny Breau, Oscar Peterson, Gordon Lightfoot, Liona Boyd, Glenn Gould, and Neil Young. Colin Godbout revisits the summer of ’69 as he takes audiences on a musical train ride from sea to sea following the route of the passenger train The Canadian from Montreal to Vancouver. The musical tracks move from Cohen and Peterson’s Montreal to Boyd and Lightfoot’s Toronto, Breau and Young’s Winnipeg, and Mitchell’s Sunshine Coast, northwest of Vancouver.
“It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of Godbout’s virtuosic classical / jazz guitar playing, as he reinterprets songs by Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Oscar Peterson, Lenny Breau, and Neil Young. A loving homage to homegrown talent and a way to hear the past with fresh ears.” Vancouver Georgia Straight
“Relish the songs of hope and change that still echo so poignantly today.” Edmonton Vue Weekly”
Godbout is a guitar virtuoso. You’ll spend the hour listening to gorgeous, jazz-infused renderings of Canada’s musical landscape.” Winnipeg Free Press
“Godbout is a brilliant guitarist and musical interpreter. In his hands the guitar becomes a whole rhythm section. His interpretation of works by Leonard Cohen, Sylvia Tyson and Neil Young were nuanced and beautiful.” The Gate: Toronto Entertainment Magazine
Regina Fringe Festival, Wed. July 6, 3:30 pm; Thu. July 7, 5:15 pm; Fri. July 8, 7:30 pm; Sat. July 9, 9:15 pm; Sun. July 10, 2:15 pm.
Tickets and information: Regina Fringe Festival. Read a Review.
Click below to hear a Gordon Lightfoot medley and Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom.
Colin describes the genesis of TransCanada ’69:
After debuting The Last Gig of Lenny Breau in the summer of 2008 I wanted to expand my musical identity to include lyricists, and looked for new musical mentors among Canadian singer-songwriters of the late 1960’s. During the winter of 2009 I explored the work of Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell and arranged medleys of their songs. During this time I saw Festival Express, a film documenting a Canadian rail tour of American musicians in 1970, and I conceived of TransCanada ’69 as a sober folk-jazz Canadian content version of this tour.
My musical trip follows the route of the passenger train The Canadian, with a side trip from Winnipeg to Fort Churchill aboard the Muskeg Express in pursuit of Glenn Gould’s idea of north. Other stops also have cardinal connotations: Breau’s Winnipeg represents the idea of east, Lightfoot’s Toronto the idea of south, and Mitchell’s coast the idea of west. By the end of the show I’ve charted the landscape of a nation and of the soul. For musical content I turned to my favorite Lenny Breau album, recorded in 1969, the same year that Mitchell recorded Woodstock and Buffy Sainte-Marie recorded God is Alive, Magic is Afoot (apparently this phrase was the unofficial anthem or mantra of the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival).
I toured TransCanada ’69 across Canada during the summer of 2009, the 40th anniversary of the summer of ’69. Transportation for the tour was provided courtesy of Via Rail in exchange for my performing music for passengers. During the 40th anniversary of the original Woodstock festival my performances of TransCanada ’69 were sold out in Edmonton.
My musical cardinal journey has some affinity with a notion Joni Mitchell elaborated in the concert film Painting with Words and Music. Mitchell believes the wheel distributes human qualities by the compass points of a racialized globe. Wisdom is of the North and the white race; heart comes from the soulful blacks of the South. Clarity is the gift of the East’s intelligent yellow race and introspection from the spiritual red men of the West (Fellezs 166; Tosoni).
TransCanada ’69 Quotes:
“It’s all been downhill since ’69.” “Americans have decided to be stupid and shallow since 1980. Madonna marks the turning point.” “Something’s lost but something’s gained in living everyday.” Joni Mitchell
“The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenalin but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.” “I believe in God – Bach’s God.” Glenn Gould
“When I play I’m playing for the people, but I’m really playing for God, because he gave me this gift.” Lenny Breau
“Sexuality is general, and although only one man may be receiving the sexual favors of a woman, all men in her presence are warmed. That’s the great generosity of women and the great generosity of the Creator, who worked it out that way, is that there are no unilateral agreements of sexuality.”
“The sixties never happened; or if they did they only lasted a few minutes, or perhaps for a moment when a man and a woman somewhere decided to get along.”
“Men and women have wandered away from each other, have become gypsies to each other….we are in the midst of some kind of psychic catastrophy.”
“There is a war between the rich and poor, there is a war between the man and the woman. Even in the midst of this flood, or catastrophe which we are in – these are the days of the flood, these are the final days – in a sense all of the institutions are and have been swept away, and the ethical question is what is the appropriate behaviour in the midst of a catastrophe.”
“[The Guests] is a song about how a new soul comes into the world looking for the feast, feeling completely separated from everything, feeling isolated and in exile, and how the great Author of this dismal catastrophe, this veil of tears, pulls each of these souls into the fate [Freudian slip?] – into the feast – and into the banquet.”
“When I get up in the morning my real concern is to discover whether or not I’m in a state of grace…A state of grace is that kind of balance with which you ride the chaos that you find around you. It’s not a matter of resolving the chaos, because there is something arrogant and warlike about putting the world in order.” Leonard Cohen
“Those were the best days of my life back in the summer of ’69.” Bryan Adams
“We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.” The Eagles
“People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties.” Bob Dylan
“If 6 turned out to be 9 I don’t mind; if all the hippies cut off their hair I don’t care.” Jimi Hendrix
“Don’t believe in the ’60’s. The golden age of pop glorifies the past while the future dries up…I believe in love.” Bono