JAIMIE VERNON – THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND

With a Little Help As much as it’s a sappy platitude from the late music legend Andrew Gold, there’s no other way of saying thanks to those who have stuck by me year after year. I have over 2800 ‘friends’ on my Facebook profile. This isn’t a boast. It’s a matter of fact and it’s not to point out the quantity. I’m the rare exception in social media who actually knows most of the people I’ve friended.

I’d say about 80% on the list I interact with frequently – the rest are friends of friends. And because I trust my friendship ring, I have given a chance to those who are friends with them.

Occasionally, those friends of friends don’t work out. Sometimes personalities and ideologies are just not mixy things. And occasionally people I had once Warbeen friends with I can no longer indulge. I recently abandoned all hope on someone I’d spent years in the trenches with. A songwriting partner. A groomsman at my first wedding. A brother who had my back. It killed me let him go. But something at his end turned toxic. I didn’t take it personally because I realized that it wasn’t about me. He was turning toxic on everyone in his life. To that end sometimes you have to let that person stumble and fall on their own petard. Lessons need to be learned and the rebirth as a wiser person needs to occur through self-actualization. But the stumbling and falling turned into dragging down and abusing our relationship. I have nothing negative to say about him. He is still a brother to me. But watching someone self-destruct despite all efforts to help stops being an act of charity and instead becomes a matter of self-defense and self-preservation. I wish him luck and maybe we can mend fences down the road. I have faith that we can. It happened once before and it can happen again.

WeddingCouple_March15_1996cI’ve spent years dealing with my own foibles and personal baggage. A lot of it was someone else’s baggage. Alas, I’m too tired to carry it around for other people now. Friendship is more than dumping your shit at someone’s door and asking them to sort out the laundry for you. It’s knowing that you’ll both be there despite the baggage. A shoulder to lean on. An ear for bitching to. And advice where it’s welcome. Advice comes from wisdom. Wisdom from experience and strength. It’s why I married my best friend, Sharon. We pull the rope in the same direction. Not against each other.

I firmly believe that we are stronger in the company of strong people. Of achievers. Of like-minded individuals willing to challenge us to move the goal-line a little farther forward. There is no room for jealousy in these relationships. It’s antithetical.
MovingTargetz2_Healeys2001 I take no friendship for granted. In 2010 I had finally hit rock bottom. Chased by the last of my personal demons following the death of my Dad in 2007 it all caught up with me. And it affected the people I love the most. In an unbelievable act of charity people stepped up. We had been evicted from our home at the end of that year with less than 30 days to clear out and we were blessed with the kindness of people we could never hope to repay. We had a pretty decent Christmas despite the looming cloud because of those friends (and a few strangers that became friends).

Honouring
By the New Year we had relocated and things weren’t looking much better. I was unemployed and we were already behind the 8-ball with the new landlord; A very kind and understanding man to say the least. Some Toronto area musicians whom I was barely familiar with – Pete Otis, Jack Tassé, Gary17 and my old acquaintance from my Moving Targetz band days, James Ratch – stepped up and threw me a fundraising bash at the Black Swan Tavern in Toronto. I was overwhelmed as my circle of friends came to the rescue and “Put on a show!”

The event was amazing. I was able to reunite two of my previous bands – Spare Parts and Swindled – but it was the roster of additional talent that made the night forever memorable: Bob “The Iceman” Segarini hosted and there were song performances by Todd Miller, Lawrie Ingles, Paul “Cybertarist” Royes (ex-Hellfield), Luke Jackson, Desmond Nathan, Blair Packham (The Jitters), Bob Reid, Wakin’ Up Johnny, Terry Draper (ex-Klaatu) and The Kings.
Kings2 Ah, The Kings. For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, both Dave Diamond and Mr. Zero have become the most amazing of friends. They always have my back (and my family’s). And I spend my time trying to get to the point where I can repay that love and friendship. On my wife’s recent 51st birthday, Mr. Zero showed up unannounced. Couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift. We’ve been on some great adventures over the years as The Kings were signed to my label. And they trusted I would help keep their career fresh and moving forward. Trust is in rare supply these days. I knew I’d earn it the day that Dave handed me his bass guitar in Chicago for my solo gig and said, “Here. Use mine.”

I’ve been blessed with friends who are famous – or were famous (“Don’t you know who I think I used to be?”) and the icing on the cake is that they’re still Draperhuman and approachable. The aforementioned Terry Draper is one of the great ones. I don’t get to see him in person as much as I once did, but he can make me laugh out loud. He views his place in the music world with a dose of reality. Serious music and serious business but a light-hearted approach to achieving those goals. It’s what inspires his creativity. I would kill to be able to wake up every day and just be able to sit at a piano and see the world as a wonderful, awe-inspiring place. It’s a gift of magic and make believe.  And he does it with TDSwordsincerity.

He put his faith in me to handle his solo career…and then the digital revival of his band Klaatu. He asked me to appear on his records and play in his bands. I even toured American Civil War battlefields with him one summer. He invited me into his house and into his life with open arms. I’ve broken bread with his loved ones and got to watch his kids grow up. You can’t trade those experiences for anything.

Bob and Vermin Bob Segarini also ranks amongst my most cherished of friends whose very presence puts me at ease. He’s a cantankerous old geezer – rubbing many the wrong way – but we share a lot of the same world view and entertainment interests. When my world was falling apart in 2010 phone calls stopped coming from supposed ‘friends’ because I’d run out of money. Bob was the first person to call. He didn’t have his hand out looking for cash. He merely said, “How can I help?”. His situation was no better than mine but I understood that he meant it. Give the shirt off his back, he would. And he has on many an occasion. He’s given me hours of thought provoking conversations and the most unbelievable meals laid out by his Guru Chef /Guitar Impresario Pete Kashur. No one stops long enough to see this side of Bob. I consider myself one of the lucky ones.
Amitava And there are others whose accomplishments and personal mantra are jaw dropping. They make me proud to be part of their lives. That they’d have time for me, or anyone else, is a sign that their egos are in check. I have a friend who works as an Orange EMS helicopter paramedic saving peoples’ lives daily. Another friend that works for FEMA and in his spare time communes with Killer Whales, climbs mountains and scuba dives into ocean volcanoes. Another friend created the Talking Animals YouTube site that is now winning awards. Others do their part for the environment or they teach ESL in Asia or they raise awareness about Autism, MS and other issues that affect us all. I know book authors, DJs, artists, record producers, chefs, doctors, nurses and actors. I also know single Dads trying to eek out a living and stay-at-home Moms trying to give their kids a loving, healthy childhood.

These are the friends I know. These are the people that enrich my life and I’m proud to share their stories on Facebook with you. And often do. Don’t be a stranger. Don’t be turned off by the noise and static on social media. Zero in on the one-on-one contact. We may not communicate in person like we once did, but now you can have discussions more frequently, cheaply and at your own pace.
Cornell_1974_75 So, if you’ll excuse me, while you’ve been reading this I’ve been reacquainting myself with a gal I haven’t seen since public school in 1975. She’s come out to see me play a very rare live gig. Friends for life are hard to come by. So thank you one and all.

THIS WEEK’S VIRAL FIND:


THIS WEEK’S VIRAL OLDIE:


Send your CDs for review to this NEW address: Jaimie Vernon, 4003 Ellesmere Road, Toronto, ON M1C 1J3 CANADA

=JV=

Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonJaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 33 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 16 years. He is also the author of the recently released Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ is now available at Amazon.com http://gwntertainment.wix.com/jaimievernon

 

One Response to “JAIMIE VERNON – THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND”

  1. I always look forward to your column, Jaimie, and I’m glad to call you my friend. 🙂

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