FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH with Blake Melnick

Song Food - A musical Interlude with guest Blair Packham

December 16, 2021 Blake Melnick Season 3 Episode 4
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH with Blake Melnick
Song Food - A musical Interlude with guest Blair Packham
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to this week's episode of #TheSpaceinBetween called #SongFood. I'm your host #BlakeMelnick. And this episode is a lead into our popular music series called #PasstheJam. For those of you that are new to the show and unfamiliar with this series, here's the skinny. What began as an idea, born from our frustration, with the inability to play recorded music on for what it's worth because of the cost and restrictive nature of copyright laws particularly as they relate to podcasts as morphed into something completely different, a creative, new approach for supporting artists, their music and their stories. One which breaks free from traditional industry norms and the typical directed listener experience. It's an approach, which places, the artist and their music at the center, and allows listeners to hear music they might not otherwise be exposed to and develop a deeper connection with the artists and their stories.

For the past month or so, we've been playing songs written by our current artist in residence, Canadian music icon #BlairPackham for all the intros and outros to the show. Before our next episode of #PasstheJam where Blair will join me as a co-host to pass the jam to an exciting new artist, we're going to have a bit of a musical interlude where I get to be a DJ and play all of Blair's tracks in their entirety.

 I hope you enjoy this episode of the space in between. #ForWhatitsWorth.

And if you like the show please share it out to your networks, and consider making a small donation to the cause by buying us a coffee, using the Support the Show link

The Music for Today's Show, "Funny How” is written and performed by @BlairPackham. Check out
Blair's Interview on our Pass the Jam series

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Song Food - A musical interlude

[00:00:00] Blake Melnick: Well, welcome to this week's episode of the space in between called song food. I'm your host Blake Mellick. And this episode is a lead into our popular music series called pass the jam. And for those of you that are new to the show and unfamiliar with this series, here's the skinny. What began as an idea, born from our frustration, with the inability to play recorded music on for what it's worth because of the cost and restrictive nature of copyright laws particularly as they relate to podcasts as morphed into something completely different, a creative, new approach for supporting artists, their music and their stories. One which breaks free from traditional industry norms and the typical directed listener experience. It's an approach, which places, the artist and their music at the center, and allows listeners to hear music they might not otherwise be exposed to and develop a deeper connection with the artists and their stories.

[00:00:53] So for the past month or so, we've been playing songs written by our current artist in residence, Canadian music [00:01:00] icon Blair, Packham for all the intros and outros to the show. Before our next episode of pass the jam where Blair will join me as a co-host to pass the jam to an exciting new artist, we're going to have a bit of a musical interlude where I get to be a DJ and play all of Blair's tracks in their entirety.

[00:01:17] I hope you enjoy this episode of the space in between. For what it's worth.

[00:01:24] First song on our playlist is called proof. When I asked Blair about the song, he explained that it was really about his relationship with religion.

[00:01:33] Blair Packham: I have a complicated relationship with religion. I'm not religious. However, I see a lot of magic in the world around me. I'm suspicious of religious scholars and religious texts and so forth. Again, forgive me.

[00:01:48] I don't wish to offend anybody, but that said, I also feel that there's lots, that can't be explained in the world, or if it can be explained, it's only a sort of half hearted explanation I [00:02:00] wanted to celebrate those magical things in a song that weren't explained by religion 

[00:02:05] Blake Melnick: Here's proof.

[00:02:07] [00:03:00] [00:04:00] [00:05:00] 

[00:05:20] Blake Melnick: That was proof from Blair Packham's album Unpopular Pop released in 2017. I really love this song to me it's very similar in meaning to the song, Closer to Fine by, the Indigo Girls. We're always looking for answers elsewhere, and yet the answers are often inside us or right in front of us. The song represents our connection with nature. The world is a magical and wonderful place, and it doesn't require that we provide an explanation for what we experience

[00:05:49] Blair writes a lot about his own personal experiences. And a lot of those experiences involve complicated relationships with women. 

[00:05:57] The next song up on our playlist is called [00:06:00] you. Yeah. You and here's what Blair has to say about this song.

[00:06:04] Blair Packham: I did what many songwriters do if the song is a love song, I tend to say, oh yeah, I wrote this about you. And it may or may not have been true, it's about somebody, you and I both know who I dated years ago, but I was probably guilty more than a few times of saying, oh yeah, I wrote this one for you.

[00:06:21] So I decided I would actually write one about her. I played it for her and she, she went, huh? That was her reaction. So it wasn't that satisfying, but yeah, that's what that's about. It's about that songwriter thing. 

[00:06:31] [00:07:00] [00:08:00] [00:09:00] 

[00:09:42] Blake Melnick: That was You Yeah You from Blair Packham’s 2017 album Unpopular Pop.

[00:09:50] During our interview. Blair had mentioned that there's a real danger in asking a songwriter what their song is about or where it came from. His point is that you have to [00:10:00] experience it on your own. And oftentimes when a song writer sits down to write a song, they're not entirely sure the depth of meaning in that song.

[00:10:09] And sometimes it takes the listener to actually find that real depth of meaning.

[00:10:15] Blair Packham: You can be intentional, but your intentions can be revealed as you go along and even can be revealed years later. When you're Sam Shepard and somebody says to you, well, I think it's about such-and-such or somebody does a different production of that play.

[00:10:30] And suddenly the author is thinking, oh wow. They saw a depth there that I hadn't even considered. 

[00:10:35] Blake Melnick: The next song and our playlist is called the other side. I was hesitant to ask Blair the meaning of this song. So I asked her to tell me something else about it.

[00:10:45] Blair Packham: I liked the way it sounds. And I liked the way I sang it. And I liked the words and stuff. It's just about choosing optimism as a songwriter, you get drawn in by sad stuff and they can really take over your life. It can lead to depression because you're being moved by sad stuff. [00:11:00] And you're looking for the sadness in things, and after a while, that can become really hard. I felt at that time, when I wrote that song, that it was time to actually make a choice to join the rest of humanity who are, or at least that portion of humanity who are optimistic.

[00:11:14] [00:12:00] [00:13:00] [00:14:00] 

[00:14:47] Blake Melnick: That was the other side again from Blair Packham's record Unpopular Pop recorded in 2017.

[00:14:56] Our next song is called loved by you. This was a very [00:15:00] difficult song for Blair to speak about during our interview. What began as a profession of love and it in tragedy.

[00:15:07] Blair Packham: I was in love with a woman. I thought we wouldn't ever be able to be together. And I wasn't sure if she loved me or not, but I thought she did.

[00:15:16] And it felt so good to feel that, and to know that I was just in a particularly down part of our relationship. And so I wrote that song about that. She actually took her own life a few years ago. People said to me, after that happened, they said, well, at least you'll get some good songs out of it.

[00:15:33] Which is just about the worst thing you can say to a songwriter who has faced a tragedy like that, like the loss of somebody like that. So to your audience, don't ever do that, or you think you're saying a good thing and encouraging thing, and you're not, you're just making them feel awful, but that one was written when she was fully alive and vibrant and lovely.

[00:15:52] And I just was sad about the way I thought our relationship was going at the time. 

[00:15:56] [00:16:00] [00:17:00] [00:18:00] [00:19:00] [00:20:00] 

[00:20:06] Blake Melnick: That was loved by you again from Blair Packham's record Unpopular Pop recorded in 2017. That was a very beautiful song and we really appreciate Blair sharing the background of that song with us on the show, very personal to him, and very brave of him to be able to talk about that openly.

[00:20:24] The next two tracks we're going to listen to are from. New record, still being released, called song food. These songs were recorded during the pandemic and they are absolutely fantastic.

[00:20:37] The first song we're going to listen to is called The Land we Knew by Heart, I was absolutely taken with this song. It started off very much like a sea shanty, and I thought it was an uplifting kind of great big C ish type song. But as I listened to the lyrics a little more closely, I realized that it wasn't exactly a happy tale.

[00:20:59] [00:21:00] But it taught me about a piece of Canadian history that I was completely unaware of. And Blair explains the story behind the land. We knew by heart.

[00:21:10] Blair Packham: So I was on a ship. As the entertainment. That was my role. It was an adventure cruise. I'd never been on a cruise before in my life. And I was hired to do this at the last minute I had about four days. Notice you want to go to Greenland on a ship? We visited a community called Hebron in Northern Labrador, and it had been a Moravian mission. And the missionaries came from Germany, I believe.

[00:21:35] And by all reports had a great relationship with the Inuit people who live there. The relationship was almost surprisingly good for centuries until 1959, when the community was told by the Newfoundland and Labrador government that they were going to be moved.

[00:21:55] Without any consultation, and they're going to be moved over the next six months or so [00:22:00] to communities in the south. And they would be separated. They'd be go to the point of several different communities. But there would be housing for them and there'd be food and there'd be a livelihood and so forth, but it's too expensive to run this community here in Northern Labrador.

[00:22:12] So it was a fait accompli. And it was a disaster. Families were separated. There were no jobs. The communities that these people were parachuted into, we're not happy to have them. They weren't welcoming. There was a lack of housing. So the people had to live in tents all winter long.

[00:22:30] In Northern Labrador for at least the first winter or maybe several winters. It went on and it became generationally disastrous as well. That was 1959. So for the intervening 60 years, people were disconnected from this reasonably idyllic life that they had within the mission and their own community had gone on literally for a couple of hundred years since the Moravians arrived in the late 17 hundreds. And then that was all taken away because it was considered too expensive to [00:23:00] subsidize this community. The Newfoundland and Labrador government in the early two thousands decided they would put some money into restoring Hebron as a physical place, as a monument, as a provincial monument.

[00:23:10] And there's a plaque there where they apologize. It's an official apology from the government to the people. And on the right-hand side of the plaque, there's an acceptance of the apology. From the Inuit people. And I found it very moving to read this plaque to be in this place. Lovely, lovely spot. And just to read these words, we forgive you. That's what it said at the end of the Inuit acceptance. And I just started crying. I found it so moving that they would say that because there's very little forgiveness in the world. When I got back to the ship We had a presentation every afternoon of what we had learned and what we had seen.

[00:23:47] And I thought I'm going to write a song and I'm not a fast song writer, but I wrote it all in one, go and performed it, people were crying and I got a standing ovation and I was crying and it was really moving. So I decided I wanted to record it with my [00:24:00] acoustic trio because it really is musically unlike anything I'd done before. It's nothing like the jitters or anything like that. And it is kind of like a sea shanty. 

[00:24:07] [00:25:00] [00:26:00] [00:27:00] [00:28:00] 

[00:28:27] Blake Melnick: The final song on our playlist is called Funny How a fictional song written about a relationship breakup. Unfortunately, for Blair, it actually came true. 

[00:28:37] Blair Packham: I used to say that song was fictional until it came true. And every time I say that, it's because it's about a breakup, but it wasn't true. I was with my wife and I was happy with Arlene, my partner, my life partner and my musical partner. And when I started playing songs, acoustically, I never played it live cause it didn't feel truthful to me. And then Arlene and I split up in [00:29:00] 2007 and I started playing that song.

[00:29:02] Blake Melnick: Here's a Funny How

 [00:32:01] That was “Funny How” from Blair's new record song food.

[00:32:07] This concludes this week's episode of the space in between called song food. I want to take this opportunity to thank Blair, Packham for letting us play his music on the show for his generosity of spirit is inspirational songwriting and for his commitment to making great music for us all Blair's new record song food is being released one song at a time through Spotify. So make sure you check it out, download the songs and make them part of your holiday playlist. And if you haven't done so already check out our podcast for what it's worth with Blake Melnick for my full interview, with Blair called living the impossible dream available on your favorite podcast listening channel Blair, we'll be back with me for the next installment of Pass the Jam where he will help to pass the jam along to our next artist. Heather, Gemmell make sure you tune in for just a long haired country, [00:33:00] girl. Here's a little taste of what you can expect. For what it's worth.