Rhett: I’ve got a real one this month, folks! I am very excited to get Dillon to write a piece for me this month. He is a guy who most certainly has his finger on the pulse of the music world. A front man in a rock band, a singer/songwriter, a family man, and the owner of one BEAUTIFUL head of hair. He’s a creator of great songs himself but also just a lover of music at the core.
I’ve known Dillon for many years now, both being from small town, southwest Sask. We were even dorm mates at a hockey school in our younger years. While we don’t see each other often anymore, I always admire that when we do he takes the time to say hello, have a chat, and often remembers some little details about what I’ve been up to. For a guy who could easily have his head in the sky, he’s as grounded and kind as they come. Salt of the earth.
I wanted him to lead us through the current changing of the seasons and I’m thrilled with what he came up with! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!
Dillon: This last winter lingered longer than most. I don’t know or particularly care if that’s true in terms of seasonal norms in the region, but I do know that, to me, it felt DAMN long. I’ve grown up having busy winters—travelling and competing in years and years worth of frigid prairie hockey games; touring and performing across the mountains and through the Canadian shield regardless of the road conditions; skipping from one family Christmas in the southwest to the next in the southeast. Traditionally speaking, winter is a busy time of year for someone like myself. Of course, this last year was (and I know this is a colossal understatement) different—in so very many ways. In many ways, it felt like we had less—less time with friends and family, less opportunity to travel, and certainly less toilet paper in the aisles of our local grocery stores; however, one thing I do know that I had MORE of was free time, and a lot more time with myself. So Rhett, go ahead and play Time by Hootie!—just kidding. Hang with me here.
So, you know that feeling near the end of a scheduled pause, maybe it’s a holiday or a school break or a destination vacation (remember those?!…swoon), where you’ve overindulged in almost EVERYTHING that’s bad for you, you’ve had little to no responsibilities for the majority of that time, you’ve devolved into a whisper of the parent you were at the start of the break (effectively rendering your children feral), and you’ve just had enough of doing ‘nothing’?
OK…maybe that got a touch specific for most, but I think you likely know what I’m TRYING to say here: WINTER WAS LONG AND SOUL SUCKING. So much so that, after a considerable spell spent deliberating with myself on whether spring was even real anymore and yearning for sunshine, I realized that due to the circumstances we find ourselves in, it may just be the first time I’ve really had the down time to see Spring clearly—in its entirety and for what it really is.
I was born in April and so, as a kid, I always connected with spring simply because of that—I liked that it was the pretty and hopeful season, but now I see it’s a lot more complex than that, and it’s really more like me than I thought it was. What I mean is, despite the convincing pitch, spring does not always come as advertised (and if you live in Canada, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s actually pretty filthy at first until the street sweepers get out).
Like myself, and if you humour me and we imagine spring as a person for a moment, I think it’s fair to say that Spring is not always a morning ‘person’. It can be a groggy, miserable wreck of a thing—one that hits snooze a few too many times before it finally rolls out of bed. One that does so knowing full well that it’s off to a late start and may need to skip the shower, but gets up and out the door anyways, and (eventually) gets back to work—extra-large coffee in hand. If that’s not admirable, I don’t know what is.
Spring is really just like all of us. It’s ugly and it’s beautiful. It’s tired and it’s hopeful. It’s…well…before I start reciting Alanis Morissette lyrics, let’s just agree to celebrate that inherent dichotomy, and enjoy a few dandy tunes while we’re at it.
Half Moon Run – How Come My Body
Half Moon Run was one of the last live ticketed events I was fortunate enough to attend before the live music business, and the rest of the world, effectively shut down—and what a show it was. I had regrettably missed them a few times throughout previous tours due to bad excuses, but the last time was an unexpected cancellation on their behalf. They had played Regina the night prior, and then proceeded to cancel the remaining dates of the tour, leaving the Saskatoon show to be rescheduled (thanks a lot, Regina). Sorry, I just had to get that jab in there. Anyways, when they returned the following year to Saskatoon, I was finally able to catch them live, and the show was unbelievable—the energy, the musicianship, the sound was all basically perfect. I would seriously not recommend missing them if you ever have a chance to attend a show. Since that show, they have been busy and have released several EPs, as well as one to be released later this year. The first single is ‘How Come My Body’—a succinct, vulnerable, gorgeous teaser of what’s to come. I chose to share it not only because its been on repeat for me the last few weeks, but also because it highlights those awkward, uncomfortable stages of growing up, much like the turmoil we see from spring so often. In a recent interview with Exclaim!, Half Moon Run’s frontman Devon Portielje described that difficult metamorphosis we as people endure as we transition from adolescence to adulthood to be at the heart of this beautiful little song, and that’s a sentiment I imagine Spring could empathize with if, you know, it had a body.
My Morning Jacket – Spinning My Wheels
MMJ is an all-time favourite of mine. I love EVERYTHING they do, and so I was thrilled when they released The Waterfall II last Summer and I had some fantastic music to help me cope with the limitations of our newly-adapted lifestyle. A year later, this heart-wrenching song certainly resonates with me now more than ever. Back in late November of 2020, much to my surprise, I wrote a Christmas song (see ‘Staying Home This Christmas’) and like a lunatic, I decided to write, record, and release it in a matter of a few weeks—so December WAS busy. After Christmas, however, with the ensuing lockdowns and the heightened risks of travelling, it became clear that I wouldn’t be finishing the full album, which I’d been working on writing since last spring, anytime soon. Making an album always takes more time than one would expect, but in a world where so many things are currently at a stand still, I must admit that I had hoped to be able to put more time into recording these songs at this point. Alas, it just hasn’t been in the cards, and reaching that one-year point since I began writing has certainly been a wake-up call. These lyrics really do speak to my feelings, and perhaps the feelings many of us are having as our plans and goals continue to reside in limbo for the time being:
“I held white snow in the palm of my hand
And watched it turn back into water again.
Just spinning my wheels, just spinning my wheels, just spinning my wheels
Gotta find a way out—A way out of here.”
Perhaps the most impactful part of this song, however, is its idyllic resolution. In the end, the narrator chooses a path of hope rather than defeat by vowing to look towards a new day instead of dwelling on his troubled past. May we all go forward with such grace this spring! Have a listen:
Plants and Animals – Flowers
I like to think I’ve chosen to share this little gem not only because it’s called ‘Flowers’ (although, I must admit that’s probably what brought it to mind), but primarily for the undeniable spring feel the song has. Again, this song is equal parts lovely and melancholy. Somehow, the constant refrain “Oh, we’ll all be together, or we’ll never be together again” has the power to provide hope and despair in the same breathe, and it seems to me to be a mantra that is all too real for today and the world we presently find ourselves in.
Foxwarren – Sunset Canyon
It’s no secret: I am a massive Andy Shauf fan. I think he’s one of the best songwriters in music—period. The fact that he is also a small-town Saskatchewan boy is really just icing on the cake. Much like his solo catalogue, his work with the band Foxwarren is brilliant. Their self-titled 2018 record is a staple in my personal record collection, and one I strongly encourage you to have a full listen through if you haven’t yet. Paired with a serene, nature-themed music video featuring Busy Philipps, ‘Sunset Canyon’ is a laid-back, introspective tune which pairs nicely with a nice spring walk or jog.
Hannah Cohen – This Is Your Life
Speaking of Andy Shauf, I had the pleasure of seeing Hannah Cohen support him at Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon a few years back, and I became an instant fan. Accompanied by her band and the exceptional Sam Evian, who also produced her wonderful album ‘Welcome Home’, she has an absolutely pure voice and is not only an entrancing performer, but a gifted songwriter as well. Her song “This Is Your Life” is the first track on the aforementioned record and was an easy choice for this list. In keeping with the theme of waking up and going for it, this track is about taking action, taking risks, and creating your own destiny in the face of adversity—an apt message for those who are looking for some extra motivation this spring!
Said The Whale – Wake Up
This song is about—you guessed it—waking up! With chants of ‘Wake Up’ and the persistent refrain, ‘Time makes all things fall together. Time brings all things together’, it’s a perfect anthem for springtime and for waking up my boy every morning for school (I don’t do this, but I may start). There is a slow-growing energy and drive to this one which takes you on an interesting sonic adventure, to which I say, what a way to start the day! Check out the video below to see Said The Whale’s very own Ben Worcester making what looks to be a delicious pot of coffee in a French press, not unlike the one I use most mornings…when I wake up early enough, that is.
My Morning Jacket – Spring (Among The Living)
These guys clearly were meant for this blog, and I clearly couldn’t help but include another atmospheric banger like this from them. This one is a slow burn but worth the ride and an obvious choice. Check out these tailor-made lyrics:
“Boy, I was ready. Boy, I was ready for spring. Its beauty changes—changes everything. Done hibernating. We animals roam out of our holes. Then we spend all spring looking for the next one to go down.”
“Among the living. Among the living again. Out in the light of day’s warm embrace. What a gift!”
What a gift, indeed! With all the figurative examples I’ve used today to exemplify spring and what it means to me, I think this is a nice tone to end on: literal AND positive. Despite all the work I’ve put into making the case that spring is not all rainbows and flowers, when it comes down to it, it’s undeniable: spring really IS beautiful, growing pains and all. It just is–and I wish you all the very best one yet!
- HALF MOON RUN – HOW COME MY BODY
- MY MORNING JACKET – SPINNING MY WHEELS
- PLANTS AND ANIMALS – FLOWERS
- FOXWARREN – SUNSET CANYON
- HANNAH COHEN – THIS IS YOUR LIFE
- SAID THE WHALE – WAKE UP
- MY MORNING JACKET – SPRING (AMONG THE LIVING)