It's been a week since I saw Great Big Sea in concert. A fabulous show--as always--with great music and funny banter between the bandmates. Fifteen years of touring and recording. Not necessarily an easy life, but one that has honed their skills. Musically, of course. It seems that every year Bob adds another instrument to his repetoire. And the songs have become more nuanced. But they also get better and better at connecting with an audience. They were good at the beginning, but now . . . you feel like you've known them forever.
Most of the songs they sing are like flash fiction. They tell a story in very few words. Many are the traditional songs of Newfoundland. Stories of fishermen, loggers, hard drinkers and hard workers. Their original songs are stories as well. Many are about love and loss. About the life of a touring musician. About drinking too much and playing too hard (these took on a different feel for me after one of the guys started writing about dealing with addiction in his blog). The shows I've seen have all included some intros that explain the story behind the song--kind of an abbreviated Behind the Music. This tour was no different. Here's Alan's story of how he came to write How Did We Get From Saying I Love You.
Confessional for sure. I haven't found video of Sean's intros to Hard Case or Long Lost Love, but they too prove to be very very personal. Now I would suspect that the first drafts of these songs bear little resemblance to what we heard last week. That they contained a lot more angst and anger. That they were raw. They most likely just told the damn story. Then they were reworked gradually into something a bit more generic. Throw in feedback from the bandmates and you've got a finished song. Still personal, still a bit raw in some cases, but something people everywhere can relate to.
The strange thing is that the story behind the story may be fiction as well. Doesn't matter really, I guess. Because there is still most likely a grain of truth somewhere in there. Some spark of what really set off the creative process.
So what about you? Do you like to know the story behind the story? Or do you prefer to experience books, poems, songs, whatever as standalone experiences?