It amazes me how many people have been telling me I need to get with Canadian Tire. Last night I was broadcast nationally on CTV News (I haven’t seen it because I don’t have a television), and host Marcia MacMillan, when we were talking before the taping, asked me the question I’ve been getting a lot: ‘Have you talked to Canadian Tire?? You’re giving them all kinds of free publicity here…’. I told her that they’ve tried to contact me but that I haven’t spoken to them yet, adding, when she looked so shocked, ‘but I’m gonna call them soon and say hello!! But that’s not really what this campaign is about’, I told her, and she asked ‘well what’s it about then?’, just before the cameras rolled. I’m not sure I really got to answer that question in the brief spot, in which, apparently, I was flanked by a story about an elephant’s birthday and played my song behind ticker tape announcing Avril Lavigne’s breakup. I’d like to address that question here (briefly, because I’ve got a show to prepare for):
It’s pretty simple, really. What makes this campaign so fun is that it belongs to US. What makes Canadian Tire money so fun is that it’s ours, it’s become part of who we are as a country, and the cultural phenomenon of it– a phenomenon which the original makers of the money could never even have guessed at– brings us together. That’s what’s been so amazing about this caper so far– learning that there’s a monthly poker game in Dryden, ON, where the stakes are strictly CT $. Learning that kids used to buy smokes with it off the fishing boats off the coast of Newfoundland. Receiving an email (was it yesterday?) from Allen Plant, owner of the Canadian Tire store in Wawa, who told me that he also promotes a music festival there called Wawapalooza and that he’s interested in getting me up to the festival and helping out with the campaign, which he loves. These quintessentially Canadian moments. THAT’S what I’m talking about. People!! Community. Individuals. Our stories. Make a deal with the Canadian Tire head office? Ask for sponsorship, or get them to match me dollar for dollar? If I start to consider the good publicity CT is getting from me something I should be recompensed for, the whole point, the whole joy of this rollick is being lost.
This is a Robin Hood operation, and even though all of this stuff is gonna wind up back in the Canadian Tire coffers eventually, it will be returned to them imbued with a beauty and a laughter and a life-adventure that very few CT bills have ever had before or will ever have again. My friend Eileen put it this way:
…all that CT dough represents the sort of leftovers of daily and forgotten life – cause each one of those bills stands for a time when someone went down to get a bicycle pump or a garden hose or the forty-second verson of one of those little garden trowels that always get lost – and how, through alchemy, all those little moments are going to get translated into a record, which is a series of translations of songs, which are already translations of little moments…
What a beautiful way to see it. Yes!! And Eileen refers there to the fact, which a lot of people don’t know–even the ones who have interviewed me about this kooky drive– that I’m using all this funny money to make a double album of songs by fellow Canadians; songs from across the land, songs by my peers. There will be only two songs of mine on this album, and the rest will comprise a secret history of folk music in this country as it lives and breathes right now– and I can’t think of anything more rad than it being funded, from across the land, by Canadian Tire money. This utterly Canadian thing which we all know, and which we all have, and which a lot of us take so for granted that we throw it away.
A number of people hitting this page these days, or interviewing me for these television spots, don’t know anything about me or my music. And that’s okay. They don’t have to know that I’ve got songs (and I mean, I’ve got songs… if you don’t know my stuff, you can find it all at here. But I don’t mind this at all– it’s fun being ‘the guy who wrote that funny Canadian Tire song’. The only Warren Zevon song most people know is ‘Werewolves of London’, a fact which Zevon hated, but hey, it’s a pretty catchy tune. Dallas Frazier wrote a lot of killer songs but will probably be remembered only for ‘Alley Oop’, a joke tune, a novelty song. Randy Newman, one of the single greatest songwriters of all time, is known by many circles as “the guy who wrote that ‘Short People Have No Reason To Live’ song– I hate that guy!”.
As Kurt Vonnegut put it… and so it goes.
Furthermore, a lot of people who are hearing about this song and this campaign have no idea that I wrote ‘There Will Always Be A Small Time’, or that that song even exists. Those of you who do know the song know that it’s a song about community; it’s a song about what’s possible when the middle men, and their agendas, are gone. It’s a song about what’s left when it’s just real people loving real music that is loving those real people right back. It’s about what WE can do, and how we can do it.
Which brings us back to the corporate question.
If Canadian Tire got involved, it seems to me that a light would go out. Something truly magical that is happening here would be extinguished. I would much rather receive two bucks at a time from people across this entire land who want to be a part of something absurd for absurdity’s sake, and beautiful for beauty’s sake, and to build it just to prove it can be done, so that we can all sit back at the end of it all and look at what we did together and laugh our asses off. If Canadian Tire just GAVE me a bunch of it, well where’s the poetry in that story? Hey, has anyone reading this seen Cool Hand Luke? Remember the scene where the chain gang has to cover that entire road with sand, to mix it with the freshly sprayed asphalt, a task which at dawn seems as impossible as any that Hercules ever faced, and Luke starts busting his ass like he doesn’t have twelve hours of backbreaking work ahead of him, shovelling and chain-stepping like he’s having the most fun he’s ever had, and the crazy absurdity of what he’s doing infects the whole crew? Remember the looks on their faces (and on the faces of the guards) when they get to the end of the road and they’ve still got hours of daylight left and no work left to do? The mad joy of that scene and the triumph they all get to savour as they stand around laughing? When Cool Hand Luke came out, they billed it as ‘The man… and the motion picture that simply do not conform’. Well, that’s how I feel about this project. It’s a madcap enterprise, it’s crazy for its own sake, and it’s ours. It’s the project which simply will not conform, and that’s the way it’s going to play out, all year long.
Yesterday I made an announcement on FB that said:
Corin Raymond has made a Monday decision. I’m gonna take this thing all the way– I’m gonna break the record for non-Canadian-Tire-affiliated-Canadian-citizen-gathered stash of CT bills. I’m going to set a record which has never been and will not be repeated in our lifetimes. I’m going to make TWO beautiful albums as a result and I’m going to spread the joy of the experience every which way, all the way, and keep you in smiles all year long. I don’t even know what the record is, but I’ll tell you this: it’s not gonna be able to see me for dust.
I also said, last night on the CTV National News Channel, that I’m going to raise ten thousand dollars in Canadian Tire Money, and I want to do it by the people alone, forty cents, three bucks, eleven dollars at a time. Why’d I say ten? Why didn’t I say two, or two and a half? Something more realistic… something possible. I guess it’s the same reason Luke said, ‘I can eat 50 eggs’, instead of saying he could eat 25. And when Luke is lying there with that blissful comatose half grin on his face, after having eaten every one of ‘em, one of the guards says ‘Nobody can eat 50 eggs.’
Exactly. Are you with me?