Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Thousand Miles Behind

I'm just one too many mornings and a thousand miles behind...

I met Johnny Cash in the summer of 1973.

The Man in Black had just performed a show in my hometown to a small but appreciative crowd and was winding down afterward at a private hotel dining room not far from the concert venue. I had caught the show and wanted to meet the great country music star.

The hotel dining room had been reserved that night exclusively for Cash and his entourage as a private relax space after the show. I had worked at the hotel as a young kid so I decided to make my way there after the show to see if I could get an audience with the legendary singer himself. In fact, I wanted to give him a copy of a new #1 hit record of a song I had written for Canada's top country music group of that time, The Mercey Brothers, who recorded for RCA.

I was all of 19 and quite nervous about meeting a major star like Johnny Cash. I was also new to the strangely impersonal feelings of sudden success I was experiencing as a new songwriter. I felt a certain sense of destiny guiding me however and I gladly followed.

The scene of that dining room was familiar to me of course as I casually opened the main door to enter. Still, I was not quite sure what to expect as I walked in and encountered three individuals seated around a big circular table right in the middle of the floor.

There was no one else in the room but these three and myself.

Two familiar faces looked right up at me and smiled a very warm and sincere welcome in my direction telling me to "come in, come join us". These warm friendly people were none other than Johnny Cash's loving wife and music partner June Carter Cash and their close friend, the legendary rockabilly artist/songwriter, Carl Perkins.

The Man in Black himself was seated with his back to the door but turned around as I entered the room to see who it was that June and Carl were welcoming to their private table and that's when I found myself face to face with the legendary Johnny Cash.

It is a moment in time I will never forget.

Frank revisits the Charlottetown Hotel dining room and the table where he once met and talked with Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and legendary rock-a-billy cat Carl Perkins

I gave "J.R." the record I wanted to present to him. He received it very graciously while politely introducing me to his wife June Carter Cash and to their good friend and fellow band member Carl Perkins. THE Carl Perkins...yes, that’s right, the same Carl Perkins who wrote Blue Suede Shoes for Elvis...rock-a-billy hero to The Beatles who recorded several of his songs and George Harrison's musical idol.

We talked about country music and Nashville and agreed that if I were ever in Nashville someday that I'd have to come by for a visit at their home in Hendersonville. I promised I'd be there someday.

God Bless their hearts.

We're just one too many mornings and a thousand miles behind.

The experience of meeting such legendary musical icons simply gathered together as friends around a table is absolutely one of my most precious memories of all time. Especially now that all three of them, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash & Carl Perkins have since passed on from this world to join that "family circle in the sky".

The circle that remains unbroken by and by.

Johnny Cash was one of the greatest and most successful music artists of his generation. His unique musical style represents the definitive intersection between folk, country & rock 'n roll.

Johnny Cash transcended musical boundaries and was one of the most respected artists of all time. He was true to the very end to the spirit of creative freedom and he will forever be remembered as a cultural touchstone and as an enduring icon of popular music.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

The Rest Is History

Human beings live shackled in a cave that is illuminated by a light that comes from outside it. Thus, all they see is the play of shadows cast upon the wall, which they call "knowledge."

One of the cave dwellers breaks free, turns around, and sees the actual source of light. He tries to tell the other cave-dwelling hermen about the light, but they don't want to hear it.

Some think he's crazy, while others are outright hostile.

And the rest is history. - One Cosmos

All art needs an element of mystery to be most effective.

It needs to be something that cannot be completely explained or understood. People need artists and performers to be in touch with the parts of themselves that the average person can't easily access - if they could, what do they need you for? Let's hope that studying the '60s inspires a new attitude and performance commitment to match the new music. An attitude with a desperate need to communicate a save-your-soul catharsis.

The way God intended. - Little Steven Van Zandt

But why...?

There's no money in it.

Because creators are in touch with the mystery and because of that connection creators create amazing and beautiful and life affirming and potentially very profitable things out of thin air.

The common mundane pictures & sounds all around us that mean nothing until put into a form that communicates. And ultimately all art communicates one single message and that message is…


As for me...

Well I was born an original sinner

I was borne from original sin
And if I had a dollar bill
For all the things I’ve done
There’d be a mountain of money
Piled up to my chin...

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Brothers In Arms

There's so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones - Mark Knopfler / Brothers In Arms

Two brothers of mine have experienced events and happenings in their lives recently, which give pause for some personal reflection.

Brother Tim, who lives in Prince Edward Island, is a lifelong fan of The Beatles. Tim and I were both born in the mid 1950's and we even had our own rockin’ duo in 1959 so The Beatles were a revelation and the revolution of our generation. The "big bang" of our universe.

(Brothers Tim Trainor and Frank Trainor performing as The Pre-Fab Two circa 1959 PEI)

Tim had not had the same opportunities living in PEI to attend major music concerts over the years so he decided a few years ago to head to Toronto to see Paul McCartney who was touring North America at that time. He was greatly impressed as the former Beatle played a spectacular Toronto show which featured many famous Beatles songs of course and Tim had the ultimate concert experience of a lifetime.

He had such a great time in fact that he traveled to Toronto again a couple of years later to get more of McCartney live and from all the reviews, including Tim's, McCartney was again in top form playing many more Beatles hits and even old "B" sides like I'll Get You.

I left the Island for Michigan in the early 1970's and lived in Ottawa and Toronto for many years and in Nashville after that, so I've had the opportunity to attend lots of concerts in my life including a 1976 Paul McCartney & Wings show in Toronto, but PEI doesn't get many big name attractions, so I'm glad that Tim finally decided to go to Toronto and experience a major rock show like Paul McCartney's.

For many of our generation, and certainly for those of us who were born and raised in small places like tiny Prince Edward Island, simply seeing and hearing a "Beatle" in person was far more fantastical than anything else we could have ever imagined growing up in the 1960's. So seeing Paul McCartney, an actual Beatle, live in concert, was just as monumental an event for Tim as it had been for me back in 1976.

Tim would make his wealth of Beatles memories "a little golder" however, by also getting to see and actually meet The Beatles original drummer from their Hamburg days. Pete Best has been touring his band these past few years and finally getting his due recognition and royalties for his years of toil with the boys from Merseyside who would eventually change the world. Pete brought his band to The Maritimes awhile back so Tim caught the show, which featured a personal Q&A, and he got to meet and talk with Pete.

(Original Beatles drummer Pete Best & my brother Tim)

Tim is having fun in other ways these days too besides meeting and hanging out with former Beatles who are still rockin' The Casbah.

He's done a bit of TV extra work this past year acting in episodes of The Trailer Park Boys the iconic pop cult show from down east.

We happened to catch one of the episodes Tim was in just the other night on Bravo. It featured rocker Sebastian Bach in a guest star role. Tim's son Thomas, our sister Vicki and her son Daniel, have also appeared in various episodes of The Trailer Park Boys too so it's become a bit of a family affair to be a part of the Sunnyvale crew.

(My nephew Daniel with his mom & my sister Vicki & my brother Tim and his son Thomas)

Tim also does a great impression of Bubbles, his favorite character from the show, so he's got some cool memories now with his concerts of recent years including a Bob Dylan show we attended together in Moncton NB in 2002, and his new acting career. Way to go "Ovey"!

My other brother [not Daryl] is Aaron who lives in LA [you know where that's at] and he and his lovely wife Nicky just had a baby.

Mother and daughter [Olivia Dominique] and new dad [my little brother Aaron...the youngest of our 9 siblings] are all doing great.

Aaron is an actor/filmmaker and musician with credits in Canada and The US for his work in TV, movies and national brand commercials.

He visited with us at Christmas with an actor buddy of his whose own family also lives in our Canadian city. His name is Chris Kramer. Chris is the star of The Collector, which is on every Friday evening here in Canada on the CTV network. He plays the role of Morgan Pym.

(My brother Aaron & me with Aaron’s good buddy Chris Kramer star of TV's The Collector)

Chris and Aaron are best friends and in a very real sense they're supportive brothers to each other in their Hollywood community.

Tim and I grew up together so we share much in common owing largely to our generational perspectives. Brother Aaron however, although nearly twenty years my junior, is very much like me in personality and disposition with his creative impulses and talents as well as in his wanderlust in being embarked on a journey far from the dark caves where shadows from the light of dawn first appeared.

As the eldest of our family and as the first to split from the pride nearly 35 years ago now, I would often joke with Aaron that we were bookends of the family. I was the first and he was the last. But both of us were drawn early on to spreading our wings far away from our early roots in Eastern Canada toward creative experiences of destiny and fate that many, including our folks, would not have envisioned.

Tim is steeped in Catholic Theology having been in the seminary for the priesthood at one time in his young adult life before changing course towards marriage and raising a family. We share with our brother Aaron a deep bond and appreciation of the life of God's Spirit in our lives. Each of us in his own way is in touch with the mystery.

Like brothers in arms.

. .