Songwriting from Humble Beginnings

Every so often my posts on writing stretch into the realm of song writing. You’ve heard me brag a bit (here and here) about Ra McGuire and his iconic rock band, Trooper. Ra’s son, Connor McGuire, is the next generation of our McGuire family musicians, singing, writing and performing his own music. His EP Different After Dawn was released in 2007 and with his current band, The Lives of Others, he’s working on another to be released soon.

But out of my church family there’s another band emerging that deserves recognition. Ibhendi is a group of four talented teenagers who are singing, songwriting and performing out of Maple Ridge, BC and have just released their first EP, Humble Beginnings. I finally got my hands on a copy today, and I’m impressed!

All four boys –Johnathan Booy, Jonah Larmor, Regard Booy and Riley O’Connor – come from different musical backgrounds and, in their own words, “Nothing can come closer to a full description of Ibhendi’s origin than those two words, [i.e., the album title, Humble Beginnings]. Regard Booy only started playing bass because the band lacked a bass player. Riley O’Connor’s guitar had a broken head that was super glued to hold the tuning knobs. A small 10watt amp was the only amplifier in the group, and the drum kit was completed by borrowing bits and pieces from a church’s kit…. No one had any idea of where to begin looking for performance opportunities. But with perseverance, determination, and a dream, the four fought on, and slowly but surely, nothing became something.”

Now, doesn’t their journey remind you of ours as aspiring novelists… dreaming, determined, persevering and fighting to make something out of nothing? (You knew I’d find a way to apply this to our writing, didn’t you?)

Does your writing involve any poetry or songwriting (or both)?

“A Canadian Legend”

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I’m a huge Trooper fan. I’m very proud of my cuz, Ra McGuire, Tooper’s lead singer. He’s been singing in a band since he was twelve… I don’t think he’d want you to count how many years that’s been, but he’s still singing, still touring, still making albums, and the band has become a Canadian rock legend.

You haven’t celebrated Canada Day properly unless you’ve ordered your copy of their newest album, Hits From 10 Albums: Digitally Remastered 35th Anniversary Special Edition*, released on July 1st, thirty-five years to the day since the release of their debut album, Trooper. This album is “a retrospective” that spans Trooper’s entire 35-year recording career. It also includes a ten-page booklet of notes written by Ra, and photos of the band.

Their bio says, “Millions of records, a couple dozen hits, sold-out coliseums across Canada, a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) for Band of the Year. The Vancouver Sun called them “Canadian rock heroes of the first order … the best performing band in Canada.” … “Trooper’s ten studio albums have earned multiple gold and platinum awards and their 6X Platinum greatest hits album, Hot Shots, remains one of Universal Music Canada’s best selling catalog CDs and one of the country’s most enduring party soundtracks.”

All bias aside, if you need toe-tapping inspiration as you write, or just a solid background of great music from an iconic band, I highly recommend this new album! You can order it online here.

And in case you’re wondering how I’m going to tie this into writing, Ra isn’t only a singer, he’s a writer, too. His book, Here For a Good Time, was published by Insomniac Press in 2006. I recommend it, too.

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* Songs included:

  • Baby Woncha Please Come Home
  • General Hand Grenade
  • The Boys In The Bright White Sports Car
  • Two for the Show
  • Santa Maria
  • We’re Here For A Good Time (Not A Long Time)
  • Oh, Pretty Lady
  • Raise A Little Hell
  • Moment That It Takes
  • Round, Round We Go
  • 3 Dressed Up As A 9
  • Janine
  • Real Canadians
  • It Comes And It Goes
  • Thin White Line
  • Boy With a Beat
  • The American Dream

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Taken For Granted

There are words that writers are encouraged to avoid, notably time-worn clichés that suggest a lack of verbal originality. ‘Taken for granted’ is a phrase that is terribly overused, but I suspect one of the reasons may be that no other words convey its meaning as aptly. It’s the phrase that leapt into my mind while I was browsing a cousin’s website this afternoon.

Ra McGuire is an extraordinary talent in a family with an abundance of talent. As I listened to a 1983 video clip of his that I’d never heard before it occurred to me that our families are probably taken for granted more than anything else in our lives.

We become accustomed to the presence of each other, and to everyone’s pursuits and accomplishments. In our household there has always been the expectation that we will all do the best we can with whatever abilities God has given us, and while any resulting achievements are acknowledged, it’s without a lot of fanfare.

It is only as I focus on the individuals in the various branches of our family and begin to enumerate their many gifts that I am struck by how remarkable our entire family is. It’s truly humbling — something not to be taken for granted — so I ‘count my many blessings’ and give thanks.