Jean-Philippe Buteau | Issue 13 | 2018
Alex Fane’s passion for music started with Kenny Rogers’ ‘The Gambler’, a song he listened to on repeat on his grandfather’s record player—and still plays on the regular at parties now. After a decidedly unsuccessful go at being a musician, he settled on being a big-time lawyer. But he still brings the rock and roll. Every year, Alex’s ‘80s hair metal cover band—Standard of Hair—plays to a crowd of over a thousand (at the Battle of the Bar Bands). Standard of Hair believe in the purity and glam of ‘80s hair metal, and make sure that their tights, wigs and eye make-up are as authentic as the music they play.
The Tragically Hip
Phantom Power, 1998
If I smell a campfire in the majestic woods of British Columbia, I hear ‘Bobcaygen’. If it is a muggy, early September evening on the Platea in Montréal, I hear ‘Bobcaygeon’. This song is like that old white T-shirt that you put on to be relaxed and at peace. The song’s simple arrangement and straightforward tone and pacing create room for some of the greatest lyrics in rock and roll, sung by the great Gord Downie in his slightly off-key croon. My favourite lyric in any song ever is from this song. ‘I left your house this morning, about a quarter after nine. Could have been the Willie Nelson, could have been the wine.’ I can’t say why it resonates with me, and quite honestly it does not make a lot of sense. That said, any time I am drinking wine, and Willie Nelson comes on, a smile comes across my face.
ALL MY FRIENDS
Sound of Silver, 2007
In 2007, as I was transitioning from my youth into adulthood, a song came along that captured the spirit of getting old, getting a job, being responsible and losing a connection with your past—set to one of the all-time great piano riffs. The song is built on a looped piano riff with layers and instruments added and the drums slowly picking up pace and intensity until the release of the crescendo. While some may call it ‘dance’ music, the use of real instruments gives it an authentic and organic feel that goes with the theme of moving on and moving forward, and questioning the paths and decisions that we make. Lead singer James Murphy’s voice will never be mistaken for Prince’s; however, it has a sincerity and earnestness to it that is endearing.
Songs from a Room, 1969
No one is born a Leonard Cohen fan; it is something that is earned. One has to have experience in one’s life to appreciate the beauty in the subtlety and simplicity of his music. Leonard’s songs are poems set to music as opposed to songs with lyrics. I am not sure why the imagery of ‘The Partisan’ sticks in my head, but the tale of the partisans hiding in the garret and the death of the woman who gave them shelter, ‘dying without a whisper’, is a tale that I cannot escape. The brutality of the lyrics juxtaposed with the softness of the plucked guitar and the French vocals creates a unique sound and feeling.
TURN IT OUT
Death From Above 1979
You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, 2004
Death From Above 1979 bring an explosive energy that can light up a mosh pit in seconds with just a bass guitar and a drum kit. The distorted bass guitar sounds like a lead guitar, a bass guitar and a box of firecrackers all rolled into a ball of rushing energy that propels their songs forward with an intensity that makes your heart pound. The constant attack of the snare drum makes you want to start running as though you are being chased by a pack of wolves through the forest. While it is not true metal—in that there are no blistering fifteen-minute technical solos—‘Turn it Out’ has that same intensity and purity that makes metal a cathartic release for so many.
SWEET CHILD O’ MINE
Guns N’ Roses
Appetite for Destruction, 1987
There she was in the smoke pit outside the law school. She had a beat-up leather jacket, a large scar on her cheek, and looked like an eastern European spy. She smoked Marlboro reds and cut class on the regular. I tried to impress her by letting her know that I was into Broken Social Scene and the Stills (pretentious arthouse bands). She let me know that these bands were just fads and that there was no band that compared to the greatest rock and roll band of all time, Guns and Roses. This lady is now my wife and a mother to my kids; and ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ is the song that will always remind me of the time that we met and the early days of our romance.
RE: issue 14 (2018). Illustration by Ivan Maslarov.
© Norton Rose Fulbright LLP 2021