found Jamie busy touring with the Sean
Hogan Christmas Tour. |
However he took the time to answer her questions
in Kitchener-Waterloo, where he now makes his home, Jamie's early years were spent
in Hanover, Ontario. His main childhood interest was hockey, and although he never
made it to the NHL as planned, he still gets on the ice at least once a week.
He's since switched his professional sporting career aspirations to golf.
this music thing doesn't work out, I'll join the PGA over 50's tour" jokes Jamie.
"Of course that's a long way off!"
His love for music grew over time;
he took piano lessons from age 5 and guitar
at 8 years old, but never took
it too seriously until he wrote his first song at fourteen - inspired by being
dumped. After high school, he returned to the Kitchener area to study broadcasting
at Conestoga College. He did air shifts at many local radio stations, but he couldn't
quite get singing out of his system.
After winning the Youth Talent Search
at London's Western Fair, he was sent to Memphis, Tennessee to compete with winners
from across North America. This led to a year performing in a revue at Memphis'
Libertyland theme park. Upon his return he started collaborating with record producer
J. Richard "Rick" Hutt (The Northern Pikes, Tom Cochrane, Beverley Mahood) and
cut his first single in '82, "World Of A Child". He released six more independent
singles through the 80's, including the Top Ten "Take Me Home Mississippi", which
garnered him a Best New Artist award.
Since then Jamie has been honoured
with awards and accolades from a multitude of professional organizations including
the JUNOs, the CCMA, and the OCPFA. He holds the distinction of being most-awarded
independent artist in Canadian country music. Having released dozens of singles
from a handful of albums, most of which were bonafide Top Ten hits, Jamie can
easily justify the milestone of a Greatest Hits package.
writers agree…the process is different for every song - some songs pour out and
others have to be pulled. Do you have some memorable pouring or pulling stories?
I think too many people believe songs just fall from the sky, or come to you in
dreams. If someone tells you they wrote a song in 15 minutes it's probably a piece
of crap. "Cried All The Way Home" took Naoise Sheriden and myself 6 writing sessions
to finish and get right (pulling), and as I slightly contradict myself, "Watching
Her Sleep", took me two hours, and I never had to edit the lyrics (pouring). Now,
I had the hook line for 3 years, and I could never get the song right before that
day...the word of the day is Craft not crap.|
first song topic was about being dumped. Over the years, have you found matters
of the heart to be your most inspirational or successful?
Successful sure, inspirational, ahhh not so much. I'm being trite. I guess relationship
songs are the back bone of popular music. When you're stuck for a topic go for
love..good, bad or indifferent. As a singer it's cool to have an emotional attachment
to the song, and where it came from...it could be your story, or a friends story,
or maybe you just imagined what it would feel like "if". Ultimately we're just
telling stories...they don't have to be real, just "true".
Jana: Your writing career has spanned decades. How have changes in your
life changed your writing?
Jamie: The biggest change was having
children; yes it gave me new topics to cover, but more importantly it gave me
a depth of love I never new existed. This new depth was applied to me as a person
as well as a writer. As a singer/songwriter I'm always inspired (stealing) from
new music and old..cool chord progressions, cool lyric phrases, new production
techniques. I hope I never stop learning.
Jana: Who was/were the most inspirational to you, your music and how?
been lucky to have many mentors throughout my life. Rick Hutt my producer of 23
years has been a great friend. He gave me a chance to sing jingles, probably when
I wasn't ready, but I learned to sing in the studio. He taught me to separate
my job (performing in clubs) and my career (recording). He helped me to develop
my writing style, mostly by pushing me to be better, he also taught me to be honest,
but kind and tactful at the same time. As I run on about my pal Rick, I want to
mention my high school English teachers Mr. Butson and Mr Greenlaw. They taught
me how to tell (write) stories in many different ways. They were also the first
mentors to tell me I was a good writer. Young writers need criticism, but they
also need nurturing. Some day I hope to write a novel. I'll get more than 3 and
half minutes to tell a story.
Jana: They say, you can't write what you don't know, but if that were true
we wouldn't have Sci fi ... so considering that, how much of your songs are a
product of your imagination and not your experience.
song I write is somewhat personal, with that said, I have very few autobiographical
songs. It's easier to write about other peoples' pain, than your own. Again I
get back to telling stories. One word: Empathy. You don't have to be an alcoholic
to write about one. I think it's cool to write songs through the eyes of a woman,
a song that shows a woman's perspective. The last time I checked I was a man,
but according to Jerry Springer I can change that! Oh yeah, did I say empathy?
Being honest, what is your worst song topic?
I think that's self explanatory. However, I need retirement money, so I'm gonna'
learn. Toby Keith and I probably won't be buddies.
Jana: Is there one song, yours or that of another artist, that sums
up who you are, or how you view your life? Okay, put it this way. What songs would
you want played at your funeral ?
Jamie: I hope everyone is drunk
and crying. Why wreck a good party with music?!
Jana: Did you have any surprise hits?
Jamie: "Ready To
Run" wasn't even supposed to be on the record. It was a last minute add. I thought
the lyrics were a little dated. Hey what do I know? The "Secret" my producer and
I knew, was that it was an important song. We never thought it would be a single,
which is why it was 5 minutes and 30 seconds. We allowed the song to dictate the
production, not radio (format). I think that song might have the best arrangement
we've ever come up with.
Jana: If you knew then what you know now, how would you guide
your career differently?
Jamie: I would have bought a house and
spent less money on PA, trucks, and recording, but I don't believe in "would've's".
I believe I did what I was supposed to do to evolve into the person and artist
I am, broke, but respected and proud.
Jana: If you were asked to teach a course on songwriting, what would
be your top 3 do's and don'ts.
Jamie: Learn about your craft. Outside
of music anyone who writes, takes courses and goes to school to learn to write.
And why not? Read some books, listen listen listen. Co-write with better writers.
Don'ts? Don't listen to those 3 Do's. Learn to edit!!!!
us about your current project.
Jamie: My current project is a greatest
hits package "Make Me Believe", so I hope those 14 songs hold up.
The 5 new songs I'm pleased with. The title track "Make me Believe" is a personal
story. It touches on the relationship I had with my wife before we split up. I
love this song. "You're My Everything" is the other end of the story. I found
out you can fall in love again. Love really does exist. With everything I've been
through and experienced over the last two years, I can't wait to write my next
Jana: A great many artist say their favorite song is the one they just
finished, which means, they believe, they get better and better. If you looked
back at your earlier writing , how would you critique it? How would you change
Jamie: I wouldn't change it..that's how you evolve. Yeah okay,
I'd change everything, but it would take forever to type all the changes, so let's
go with the first answer. I hear hit songs I've written, on the radio, and I still
say to myself "If I'd only changed that one line??!!". What's that old joke? It
takes two artists to create a masterpiece. One to paint it, and the other to shoot
him when it's done.
Is there anything you would change in the music industry if you could
Jamie: I like to see all the Idol shows go down the toilet.
I didn't realize the music industry was a lottery. Let's make celebrities out
of Karoke singers! I'm often saddened how we as a country take art and artists
for granted. We need to start "buying" some CD's and going to more shows. Ultimately
the onus rests on the shoulders of the artists, "Build it and they will come".
We could use some new tools to help build it.
Thank you Jamie for your
insight into the music industry!
Drop by his website
for touring dates, more pics, and info on his latest projects.