Saturday, 29 November 2014



Stick a Fork in Them


Winters in Edmonton are long. They are dark. They are freezing. Yesterday and Thursday the city was crushed beneath a near-record snowfall. The snow-packed roads are now the same height as the sidewalks. Plunging temperatures and the weight of vehicles make the streets squeak. The powder in our yard goes over the tops of my knee-high boots. The calendar insists it’s autumn for another three weeks.


The hardy souls in this northern town require distraction. While the local arts scene is always vibrant, the lead husky in this provincial capital during the winter months is the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Finding a pub or bar in the city without any Oilers-related décor is next to impossible. The team is on the TVs. The hockey club lost its ninth straight game last night in St. Louis. November’s not yet done, but they are.


Since the oil strike at Leduc No. 1 in February of 1947, Alberta’s economy has been overly reliant on the energy sector. These days your semantics will betray your beliefs and leanings; do you refer to the oil sands or the tar sands? Yesterday heavy crude was trading at $48.40 per barrel according to Western Canada Select, the Canadian commodity gauge. West Texas Intermediate has the refined product priced a few dollars below $70. Suffice to say, a city like Edmonton understands the cycle of boom and bust, high times and hard times.


The Oilers have been dismal for eight going on nine consecutive seasons and when the tally of their wins and losses ceases to matter before December folks seeking distraction from the freezing dark in a winter city get pissed off. And rightly so, because everybody knows even the worst economic downturns last about four years. The fan-base has been prickly for at least a year, ever since President Kevin Lowe uttered an unbelievably stupid public statement which essentially degraded Oilers supporters into two pathetic camps: the loyal and reliable sheep who pony up for season’s tickets year after losing year versus those passionate poor ones who can only afford a rare ducat yet buy the merchandise and live and die with the team as they soak up each advertising-riddled broadcast. This is the big dog hubris of the only game in town, as rancid as the play has been for so long now.


Public undertakings are a constant of good times and bad times. A civic dream becomes affordable or people need to be put to work. We don’t build cathedrals or great vaulted train stations anymore. Stadia and hockey rinks now constitute our major public works. The crater has been dug for a new Edmonton Oilers downtown arena. The city’s core needs to be revitalized; it is dead, devoid of people, a legacy of a young city’s lack of forethought and inept long term planning. Development deals are complicated, but anyone who lives within city limits and pays taxes is on the hook for a portion of the cost of this welcome initiative. Whatever Kevin Lowe’s opinion of his organization’s fans, they’re all vested as the rink’s iron skeleton rises.

What the people want now is neither a glittering ice palace two years hence nor another high draft pick next summer: what the people want this winter is good goaltending and a decent fourth line. The Oilers are barely capable of delivering cold comfort and so winter nights in this burg will seem longer than ever for both tiers of their fans.

Thursday, 27 November 2014



Lurid! Sex! Scandal! Maybe.


There may or not be a sex scandal on Parliament Hill. Since this is Canada, we can’t compete with the Profumo Affair or Italy’s happy days of bunga-bunga – or was it oingo boingo?


Two Liberal Members of Parliament have each been accused of sexual harassment by two rival New Democratic Party MPs. The two Reds have been identified and pilloried in the traditional press and on social media. The Orange accusers remain anonymous and the allegations of misconduct are vague. Neither one has filed a complaint with the Ottawa Police Service. One complainant is happily granting our national media outlets detailed interviews provided her name is not used. Apparently she’d provided a condom to one Liberal member.


People should not act like dicks. Perhaps we’re all hardwired that way? Still, every dog, even the most despicable cur, deserves their day in court or the opportunity to defend themselves before some other quasi-official body. In these early days of the Information Age a digital mob will tear you up as surely as an old fashioned, physical one before you can get a word in. A Tweet can wreck your life.


Yesterday things got really surreal. Peter Goldring, a Progressive Conservative MP from Edmonton, issued a press release to an anxious Canadian public stating that he sports, and I quote from the Edmonton Journal, ‘body-worn video recording equipment.’ He advised that MPs who ‘consort with others’ would be wise to do likewise. The press release was retracted after the Prime Minister’s Office issued a one sentence e-mail: ‘Mr. Goldring’s comments reflect his own personal position.’

Now, our Prime Minister is an uptight and paranoid autocrat. However if you consider the clowns in the back rows of Stephen Harper’s Tory caucus you can almost empathize with him; his methods control madness. And so, as bipartisan affairs on the Hill continue to unfurl in a murky manner (see Justice Minister Peter MacKay for some  historic background), we are left with another burning question: In which body cavity would an honourable gentleman such as Peter Goldring choose to secret his audio/video recording device?

Wednesday, 26 November 2014



This Won’t Do


There’s a Dunn’s delicatessen on the perimeter of Ottawa’s Byward Market. It’s the best smoked meat sandwich in the capital by default since Nate’s, lovely, glorious Nate’s on Rideau Street pulled its shutters down over its window display of briskets and gallon jars of pickles and peppers forever.


The baseball jersey cursive Dunn’s wordmark is embedded into the brick above the door. What follows reads OPen 24 hrs. The p descender aligns with the bottoms of the balance of the letters giving the appearance of a stray cap. This typographic crime has always annoyed me. Also, my last visit to this restaurant had been infuriating. My waitress was in a tizzy, distracted equally by a visiting male suitor and her iPhone. Am I so difficult? Was it wrong of me to expect at least an iota of service and the correct order? And saints preserve us, if the kitchen resembled the toilets…


While contemplating a late meal at Dunn’s I recalled the oft-sputtered adage of a former colleague, an advertising account executive: ‘Go pound sand. Just fucking ram it.’ And anyway, we were due in Montreal in two days’ time; better smoked meat there and I had big plans for the Main Delicatessen. I elected to go next door to a place called Milano which I since understand to be a modest chain operation and based mostly in eastern Ontario. Something new.


I opted for a very manly 13-inch, pizza oven toasted sub. The layered meats were ham, turkey and salami. The sandwich was topped with grated cheese, crisp romaine lettuce, ripe tomato slices, pickles and a light, mayonnaise dressing. I returned late the next night for a massive wedge of Milano Chicago-style pizza. The quarter-pie slice was liberally sprinkled with hot Italian sausage and a reggae trio of hot pepper rings: red, gold and green. It was to die for, especially once my intestinal cramps kicked in about four hours later.


Globalization and international branding have lead to an insidious First World uniformity. There’s no escaping golden arches and green mermaids. You wonder about the ambitions of regional operations like that of our friends at Milano and Dunn’s. (Dunn’s has already failed in Alberta, the company bizarrely electing to open stores in three star hotels noted only for their proximities to the Calgary and Edmonton international airports despite an unbroken business model and legacy of downtown delis.) The micro level isn’t all that different. If you’re from somewhere else, a place noted for a signature dish, chances are there’s somebody from your old hometown trying to approximate it where you live now. Your taste buds are never too far from where you grew up. Still, everything tastes better at source.


Things got weird in Montreal. Three blind mice struggled along boulevard St-Laurent. Ann, me and my sister Anne made our way uphill into the wind and snow of one of those Montreal storms that turn the sidewalks and gutters into a sea of muck. Our destination was the Main Deli, just beyond Pine Avenue and across the street from the Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen, better known as Schwartz’s. When we got there, there was no there there (apologies to Gertrude Stein). Had it closed? Had it moved? Was this some kind of twisted cosmic joke? We trekked another block north. I peered around in consternation. I wished I was a movie star so I could scream ‘Noooo!’ in slow motion.


My sister said, ‘Well, there’s always Schwartz’s.’ And I thought, Well, technically yes, there is and it’s better than Dunn’s and it’s a Montreal institution, but they cram you in there like future veal cutlets and, quite frankly, I’ve always found their brisket a little dry, even a bit stringy and I used to get a kick out of sitting in the window of the Main Deli and watching the sheep line up to get into Schwartz’s when the better sandwich was just a quick traffic dodge away and anyway, apparently the new ownership group involves Celine Dion’s husband, so, no, it just won’t do. I said, ‘You said you liked a place along here called Coco Rico’s?’ ‘Portuguese rotisserie,’ Anne affirmed. ‘We’re standing in front of it.’ We were indeed, just two doors down from Schwartz’s.


There are no tables in this joint. The room is long and narrow. The right-hand wall features a counter with just enough space for your elbows and a paper plate, high stools are lined up beneath it. There’s a cafeteria barrier on the left side and behind that is an array of stainless steel barbecues pierced with spinning spits. The smell of the roasting potatoes, chicken, pork and ham is deliciously overpowering.


Ann and Anne both ordered pork chop sandwiches served on fresh, white, flour-dusted rolls. I chose a ham sandwich because I worry about the amount of salt in my diet. These are basic delights: meat and bread. There are no other options, no cheese, no garnish, no chain sandwich artist in polyester - just a carver with a sharp, glistening knife. The Coco key is their condiment, a spicy, rich sauce quite unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before in my life. It is red flavour. As Coco Rico’s menu is not extensive, the sides are naturally limited. We shared a massive, crunchy dill pickle and a Styrofoam bowl of what seemed to be scratch macaroni salad. The miniscule unisex toilet was immaculate.

Strange. I’ve been going home to Montreal intermittently for a quarter century. I’ve kept eating the same foods every visit, doing the same circuit to eat what’s never tasted quite right out west. Now there’s something new to go back for and maybe someone here in Edmonton is working on a decent approximation. I’ll try almost anything these days.

Sunday, 23 November 2014



Fashion Victims


It’s rather unlikely that a burka constitutes anyone’s idea of haute mode. But the biohazard tent-like garments sure enough discourage skirt chasing and suggestive leering. It’s impossible to guess who’s concealed underneath. It could be Elvis, it could be a supermodel, it could be a jewel thief; you just don’t know, you never can tell.


Crime, as everybody knows, is a scourge on society. No argument here. Yet in the darkness of the cinema we’ve been seduced by elegant, charming and witty thieves and grifters: Cary Grant, David Niven, Robert Wagner, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, George Clooney and Brad Pitt. And there’s no denying that certain genuine criminals and certain real-life capers captivate the public’s imagination in something of a romantic way. Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs died a folk hero. Ned Kelly’s violent legacy in the Australian state of Victoria is that of a tourist magnet.


The neighbourhood of York Mills constitutes a substantial part of Toronto’s Millionaires’ Row. When you breathe in the rare air you smell money. It was the scene last week of a spectacular and audacious jewelry heist. Two armed robbers carrying purses and draped in burkas lifted half a million dollars’ worth of ice from a local jewelry store. One of the suspects is believed to be male. A CCTV security image reproduced in the newspaper shows a sci-fi figure clad entirely in black brandishing a black automatic pistol. ISIS couldn’t touch this Islam glam. The getaway driver was idling in the back alley.

Luxury accoutrements and shiny baubles mean nothing to me so it’s tempting to write that the job was a brilliant and victimless crime. However, the store owner and an employee were menaced at gunpoint and the store’s insurance provider is on the hook for the loot. Despite those two not insignificant concerns, I must confess an appreciation of the bad guys’ or gals’ scheme. I admire their style.

Saturday, 22 November 2014



Our Fair Share of Abuse


We were back east last week attending to family business. We attended my father’s funeral in Ottawa. We visited my mother in Montreal who enjoys ramming her new tricycle walker into the corridor walls of her residence because she can. Her cancer is in remission and I wonder if she understands the difference between that word and ‘cured.’ One snowy evening found Ann and me in the alley beside my sister’s non-smoking condominium sipping from bottles of Newcastle Brown using a dumpster lid as a table and topping up our nicotine levels. We weren’t at our best.


My sister had already decided for us that our Christmas in Edmonton this year would be an open house and not a formal sit-down. And since neither one of us want anything (although I’ve been hinting strongly about the recent Rolling Stones DVD+CD vault release of their ’75 L.A. Forum show and the ’81 Hampton Coliseum gig and the new Pink Floyd album), we discussed treating the house to a new turntable. Our repaired and re-repaired unit was a fine machine in its time. Now it is full of ghosts. You have to unplug it from the wall to stop it spinning. At the end of a side the tone arm skitters and skates across the label into the spindle. For all we know there could be wow and flutter or motor-boating.


Yesterday we went out to buy some vegetables for a stir-fry. Across the parking lot from the grocery store is Gramophone, a well-regarded audio shop. ‘Let’s poke our heads in just for fun,’ I said to Ann. ‘See what they’re selling for.’ I’d forgotten about Rick the audio snob who greeted us inside; I regretted not packing a beer to shotgun in the Honda in order to gird for an encounter with Rick the audio snob.


I paused to admire one on display, its base done up in a Union Jack motif. ‘That one’s $2400,’ Rick informed me. ‘It looks cool,’ I replied, ‘but a little out of our range.’ Ann ventured that we might like a turntable with an automated tone arm given our existing troubles. ‘That’s just throwing your money away,’ Rick told her. ‘Even if we carried that crap I wouldn’t sell it to you.’ Ann and I both said, ‘Ah.’


Rick turned to me. ‘What kind of speakers do you have?’ ‘Bose,’ I told him. This elicited a sneer. ‘We also have a pair of 30-year-old Missions,’ I hastily added. ‘I had the drivers replaced about ten years ago.’ Rick was dubious. ‘If you’re happy with the sound…’ he allowed. ‘They’re made in China now. We wouldn’t sell them.’ Of course not. ‘What have you got for an amp?’ My advertising copywriting trigger tripped. ‘It’s a dedicated stereo amplifier and tuner,’ I replied. ‘No home theatre or anything like that.’ He seemed to approve. I didn’t dare tell him it’s a Sony. Rick sat down on a white leather couch beside a pair of $48,000 white speakers shaped like Michelin Man treble clefs. ‘Let me think,’ he said. Ann and I stopped breathing; Rick must ponder our hopelessly inadequate system and our current requirements.


Rick got up and went to the back of the store where customers are not allowed to tread. He returned with an elegant black turntable. The brand was unfamiliar to us, Music Hall, the model mmf-2.2. ‘These are designed and manufactured in the Czech Republic. Good, basic machines.’ I joked, ‘I thought the Czechs only made beer.’ Rick did not find this remark funny. ‘The Czech economy is based on manufacturing and energy exports.’ Oh.


Rick’s go-to demo album is Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly with Me. ‘I remember this record in my parents’ collection,’ I said. ‘The production, the musicianship, the songs…’ he replied, ‘it sounds great.’ His next obvious question went unasked, thank God; I dreaded Rick the audio snob telling Ann and me he hated everything we enjoyed listening to. I believe if I’d asked him about the Rolling Stones he would have said something like: They can’t sing, they can’t play, they can’t write and their production is crap.


We bought the Music Hall turntable. Who knew intimidation was a sales tactic?  Perhaps we felt guilty about inflicting moments of our puny, irritating lives upon Rick’s time. Rick assembled the turntable for us in the store and cautioned us to never play it without completely removing the dustcover; perhaps Rick does not keep cats. He showed me where to attach the counterweight knotted to its almost invisible filament. He loaded the unit into our vehicle beside the broccoli and carrots and suggested that our wisest course of action given the weather, the road conditions and our purchase was to go straight home.

Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. We followed orders. We are delighted with our new audio component and I know on some level Rick the audio snob cares about our satisfaction. I suspect too that he set the bait and hook and that we will be looking at upgrading other parts and pieces of our sound system just so we can bask in the harsh glare his approval.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014



Dad 1924 - 2014


Last weekend’s Globe and Mail ran a review of a novel called The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson. The reviewer compared the work favourably to Graham Greene’s espionage themed thrillers, works which the author himself described as ‘entertainments’ and distinct from his other novels which he felt were more serious works of literature. Set in modern day West Africa, the reviewer astutely noted that the movements of the protagonist in The Laughing Monsters tend to mirror Marlow’s journey down the Congo River to Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness.


I read the review Saturday in Montreal while seated at my sister’s dining room table. I remembered that Dad still had not got around to reading Alan Furst’s Mission to Paris despite my prodding. He'd also promised to read The Innocent by Ian McEwan. I decided to buy two copies of The Laughing Monsters and dispatch one to Dad. Denis Johnson wrote this story for us. After we’d both read it we could compare notes as we’ve always done with every John le Carre novel since I can’t remember when. Alas, this nanosecond of good intention was for naught as we’d buried Dad in Ottawa the previous day.


Dad was born in Montreal, the second child of British immigrants who met and married in Canada. He came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War. He served overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a navigator in a ‘plywood wonder,’ a two-man crew Mosquito night-fighter. Based in Lille, France after the collapse of Fortress Europe, he flew missions over France and Germany as a cold, wet and grumbling member of the KP-409 Nighthawks squadron: Midnight Is Our Noon. He was a good looking kid in uniform, pictures prove it. If hard times and aerial combat don’t kill you, they will certainly imbue you with a particular strength of character.

Fittingly, Dad slipped away peacefully on Remembrance Day with my sister at his bedside. She told him to go and see Robert, his eldest child, our late brother. Ann and I could not make Ottawa in time from Edmonton, however we wrote his obituary together and managed to meet the Ottawa Citizen’s deadline from a different time zone. And anyway, my father and I had a clean slate, no unfinished business other than unread books, nothing needing forgiveness. I was honoured to write and deliver the eulogy of a man whom I not only loved, but really, really liked. Talk about deadlines, Dad would appreciate that the words came together under pressure over a few beers in a bar the night before his memorial service.


Down in the basement here in Edmonton we have a fairly extensive library, the collected works of two families and at least two generations. My own contribution to the shelves of spines was seeded by Dad: Conrad, Forester, Greene, Lardner, le Carre, Maugham, Poe, Orwell… An appreciation of literature and an ongoing intellectual curiosity about nearly any subject are gifts from my father. ‘Our father’ I should say - my sister is a bookworm and our brother was a bookworm. Books have been a bond amongst the four of us, there was always one to lend, recommend or give. I know Dad was pleased when my first novel was published. I know he was even happier when a writer friend of his allowed that Murder Incorporated wasn’t half bad. It hurts me that he will never read my overdue second one. It hurts me that we will not share the experience of reading The Laughing Monsters.

Last Monday in Montreal Ann and I and my sister mucked along rue Ste-Catherine, through the slush and falling snow. We reached the corner of Stanley. The windows of a prime downtown retail space were covered with brown paper. The doors were locked. It was a Chapters. Before that, a Coles. There’d always been a bookstore there. Well, there used to be.

Dad, you were always there. Well, you used to be. Godspeed.

Saturday, 8 November 2014



A Snow Day


There’s never really a first snowfall in Alberta because it can come at any time. I wouldn’t lay a snow bet on July or August although it could happen. What started falling through the night and continues to fall through this afternoon is here to stay. Clearing the walkways and the driveway isn’t about getting rid of it now; we’ve begun the winter toil of merely heaving it from one place to another, laying the foundations for January snow banks and windrows.


November is like a jail sentence, 30 days of mounting melancholy, the nadir of another year. We’ve turned back the clocks. The days will become increasingly shorter and that much colder. There is the blue and guiltily grateful pause of Remembrance Day. A minute of silent reflection seems a small price to pay for decades of freedom and our boundless opportunities to abuse it, or totally botch it from time to time. Democracy and capitalism, though often greased, are not always smooth processes.


I come in from the cold. Nuthatches, woodpeckers and chickadees are swirling and flitting about the feeders hanging from the limbs of the Ohio buckeye. The snow shovel is leaning up against the side of the house, its plastic edge is beginning to curl and peel: maybe one more winter’s scraping is left in it. There’s still coffee in the pot in the kitchen. I can smell the warm toaster. The Saturday New York Times crossword is partially completed. The Dixie Chicks are playing on CKUA, Alberta’s public radio station ( Their version of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Landslide’ is sublime. If I still recorded mix tapes I’d follow it with ‘Champagne Supernova’ by Oasis, soft regrets being ploughed under. My blue Canadiens cap and grey fleece are white with snow.


Ann says, ‘You’re soaking. You should shake them off.’ So I do. Ann says, ‘I didn’t mean in the kitchen. I meant outside.’ She goes outside on the front porch to smoke a cigarette. I know Ann’s still smarting from having her butt kicked like a soccer ball all around the Scrabble board last night. I tear a couple sheets of paper towels from the roll and get down on my hands and knees and wipe the floor tiles to a clean shine.

Joining Ann outside I tell her, ‘I did that on purpose. Two birds. One stone. You know.’ Her smile says, Sure you did. Ann is right of course: heading into my 55th Canadian winter I should know better. But winter is six months, a long season, and I’m traditionally slow out of the gate. It always takes some getting used to, even after all these years.

Thursday, 6 November 2014



Recurring Catechism and Killers


The doors to the bedroom closet must be shut once night has fallen from the sky. There must be cold cuts in the deli drawer of the fridge to graze on in the wee wee hours after my own night terror screaming has woken me up.


One of life’s many small pleasures is hitting the sack with a good book and then falling into a gentle sleep. I’m too old to believe in beasts beneath the bed however it doesn’t take long for the gang of men in black cloaks armed with swords and daggers to appear. They materialize in a twilight moonscape of shattered tree trunks and enormous, rotting sunflower stalks. The grey, drizzling rain is cold. I am soaking wet. There is nowhere to run.


Later, after a sandwich and a session with The Economist, I am in my teenaged bedroom. Pictures of Mick and Keith are on the walls. I have an exam to write tomorrow, but where? The course could be Religion or French. I’m not certain. I haven’t attended a class all semester and it’s possible I’m a university student and not a high school punk anymore. I open the door to a maze of all the apartments I’ve rented, the two homes I’ve owned and every nook and cranny of every place where I ever earned a wage. The rooms are full of people: some I loved, some I liked, some I miss and some I couldn’t stand. Lately the mystery girl has disappeared from the group shot tableau; I’ve finally found her.


Treetops and power lines are tricky when you’re learning to fly. Walking under water with neither weights nor a breathing apparatus necessitates an inhalation of faith. Last night it was revealed to me that the secret of time travel lies within the grooves of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Maybe everything that’s ever happened was and is 20 years ago today. The Catch-22 for time travelers going either backward or forward is that they’ll be in the present and ignorant of shifting realities; I know this to be true.

Dear God, when I lay me down to sleep can you please turn me off? Just one hour of peace, I’ll settle for that. What have I done to deserve nights like these?

Monday, 3 November 2014



Gordon Lightfoot


If I do not suffer the ignominy of dying abandoned and unmourned, I want Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Old Dan’s Records’ played at my wake. And I hope my friends and relatives will then go through our music collection and share a laugh and a tear spinning the old songs; ones that elated me and ones that depressed me, ones I loved.


There is some musical talent in our family, but like my father’s gift for carpentry, nothing of the sort was bestowed upon me. Recorder classes in grade school were as agonizing as arithmetic and French. Music is one of the great joys of the accident of existence. Every songwriter, singer and musician wants to be heard. I have happily embraced the role of fan.


Fandom is akin to juggling on a high wire: blind love must be tempered by a critical ear and creepy obsession must be tempered by mere blind love. The listener keeps going back to that album, that song even while demanding the artist to grow and evolve yet release more like that. Live performances have become problematic. Concert tickets are expensive. While hardcore fans may be more opened minded regarding an artist’s in person foibles, casual goers want to hear those songs, greatest hits as they were recorded, please; a delicate balance for every involved party.


Last night we saw Gordon Lightfoot in an elegant theatre with incredible acoustics and clean sightlines. Every honourific cliché hangs like a medal from the lapel of his velvet jacket: genius, legend, icon. At 75 he looks at least as cool as Keith Richards, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, in other words, far beyond my own middle aged dreams of hip. There is a frailty too, the deep, rich voice has diminished and certain lyrical phrases sound slack and slightly slurred. ‘Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated,’ he told us although his various and relatively recent health issues were national news.


Lightfoot has written so many great songs that a list of five or even ten seems a discourtesy, a life’s work reduced to arbitrary ascending or descending digits. Canada is a big, empty and diverse country but it’s looking like we may yet make it to the 150th anniversary of Confederation. And you shall know us through Lightfoot’s ‘Canadian Railroad Trilogy.’


The reeling jig of ‘Old Dan’s Records’ was too much to hope for, so why bother. It is the upbeat stranger in the generally down and heavy Lightfoot canon. Walking through the dark to the auditorium I kept thinking: Please, God, please, Gord, play ‘Early Morning Rain.’ If you only do one song about heartbreak, about being alienated by the changing times… We’ve got at least two versions by you and covers by Neil and Bob. Elvis sang it. Gram Parsons should have and I can hear the Stones demolishing it with gusto: piano, Mick on harmonica, ragged acoustic guitars and Charlie gently brushing his drums. Please, Gord… I really love that song.

He didn’t play it during his first set. That was all right, ‘Early Morning Rain’ is one of the best songs ever written by anyone and he was saving it for after the intermission. Um. He has to do it. Obviously he was holding it back for the encore. Bastard! Gordon Lightfoot did not play ‘Early Morning Rain.’ I wanted to die. He's got a song for that event too.