A year of vulnerability, seeking happiness

In the fall of 2015, I began a series of transitory life events. One of which was a trip to Red Deer, Alberta, to attend a show i felt would be life changing. I didn’t fully comprehend to what extent, but as it turns out, the serendipity of following songs as guidemaps of the heart becomes a fascinating adventure.

i wrote Dan Mangan a longwinded email filled with fanfare akin to a ticker tape parade, and waited until the morning of the show to hit send. I got on a bus and treated myself to a soul journey of meeting the poet who understands life in a way i could never believe was a voice that could silence anxiety by continuing the conversation with questioning.

i knew good music was possible, and that feeling at my deepest core that says to preserve social justice in daily interactions would someday find a home. As it turns out, all the time old classics get the nostalgia going something fierce, but I am so very grateful for modern writers who keep up honest + weird folk culture alive.

that, in essence, was the tone of the email. that i am happy he has continued to treat words – and his audience – with the respect they deserve. oh, and that his son and I share the same name. Jude is a name with parallel strength and vulnerability which i am pleased to bear, i have chosen it. To name a new human with a name drenched in cultural meaning is a bold move as well. But, I agree, it’s a good name. Jude Mangan, I’m glad you exist.

….i digress. the trip became an existential overload where the email turned into a series of subsequent interactions from stage to merch table signings. From 2010 to present, i’ve enjoyed every moment of the 10 live shows for another reminder of how to be 1000% real.

though i’ve been raised within a monumentally supportive community of folk musicians, it was only about 6 years ago i started to really there’s an amazing indie music scene running through Canadian soil. ever since I’ve been asking myself, everyone, and the man himself – “who is Dan Mangan?” … except we specifically avoided that question, we agreed it wasn’t one of those kind of interviews.. instead, my questions began with a brief exchange from the stage: “which came first, the music, or the lyrics?”

my process has changed over the years. when i started i was better at playing guitar than i was at writing songs. now i’m basically the same level of a guitar player as i was then, but i’m better at writing songs, so sometimes the words and melodies hit first.

He’s a kind dude with a guitar and a great capacity to maintain good, independent music rooted in Canadian sensibilities. He wants to tell a story that contributes to our collective one. His boyish charm has become informed fatherhood. His brooding bard identity is making political discourse completely accessible as popular opinion welcomes the alternative one. One such initiative being #imagineOct20th during the Canadian 2015 election. More recently, his newest single Race to The Bottom confronts political + social blind spots of our collective culture more bravely than many have since Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and in the same honest spirit as Gord Downie since revealing his cancer diagnosis.
Dan’s lyrical wisdom reminds me of an endearing grandfather figure….but one who’s ‘seen things’.  One who takes great care in word selection, and intention of delivery. And who sincerely hopes you’re living a good life if only for the sake of an improved political climate. His demeanor suggests that which he is, an informed citizen with opinions beyond our chorus rising up with affinity for robots’ hearts. Whenever possible, you’ll find Dan at the signing table after the show, talking to every single person waiting to say hi.  His career was built off of this relationship, as a solo touring musician. And given the increasing scale of each tour, it’s an honourable initiative to commit to this responsibility to the audience.
dan and jude

circa 2011: Sackville, NB

After the show in Red Deer, we briefly discussed the synchronicity involved in naming his son Jude (with my similar chosen identity). Dan’s affinity for the weighty lyrics in Hey Jude “for well you know it’s a fool who plays it cool by making the world a little colder”  offer a uniquely ubiquitous reflection on individuality. (in paraphrase:) ‘To veil yourself to negative experience is also going to inevitably veil yourself to goodness and positivity. Openness to this range of emotion creates an environment for vulnerability, which thereby begets strength.’


circa January 2016; Halifax, NS

It seems to be this vulnerability is an element of his success. Since reflecting on Jude (as a name, as a song, as an identity) further, I’ll bite. ‘So much for fear’ sums up our generation’s connection to Beatles’ wordplay…in a NiceNiceVeryNice way.

Though the songs of Club Meds are insightful, playful, intelligent works of art, they still aren’t ‘sweet summer jams’…but it’s a Pretty Good Joke from the stage.
Read on for Dan’s answers to these same 6Questions:
1) favourite song  

(Basket has remained a puzzle piece of live performance since it was written)

from the new album: New Skies, though not featured in many sets of this most recent solo tour. Mouthpiece, took a year and a half to write, rewrite until it was ready in the form Club Meds required.

2) fave cover song 
 David Bazan – Won’t Let Go (all of Strange Negotiations album is worth a listen!)
[in previous years’ tours, he used to do a lovely rendition of Neutral Milk Hotel’s In An Aeroplane Over the Sea, and Elliott Smith’s Waltz #2 (XO)]

3) fav road trip song/album
it seems like every tour has a spin of Bill Withers’ Aint No Sunshine [youtube]
and Plants & Animals Good Friend [youtube ]

4) best/worst places to play a show 
good shows surprise you. we played the filmore in san francisco which is incredible, but it was first of three bands and the room was empty. we love playing to a hometown crowd in vancouver, but we’ve had some really amazing times in random places. i don’t want to be too specific, because it’ll do a disservice to somewhere. 

5) what’s the hardest you’ve laughed? Ever. or just today. 
one time i almost peed watching our old bass player colin eat an apple singing “i will survive”. he has a way about him.

6) “Spirit Animal” of self/band
stream all of Club Meds here,
follow along with the lyrics here.
If you’ve read the liner notes
(poetry worthy of its own accolade), you’ll know:
sedation is massive,
we’re all in for the ride ( from XVI).
the conversation continues here, with answers to the great realizations from working with Dave Grohl and  thoughts on “career anniversaries”
 thanks again, Dan, for the time and melodies and sage wisdom all rolled into a chorus
reminding us to sing our stupid heads off to the ones who are not listening. even if the robots can’t hear us, and the deceased can no longer respond, we all still need love.
‘ring the bells that still can ring
forget your perfect offering
there’s a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in’
– Leonard Cohen “Anthem”
Posted in: 6Q

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