The Glorious Corner: John Mellencamp, The Guess Who’s Burton Cummings, Joanna Bonaro’s ‘Good ‘n Screwed’ and More

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John Mellencamp

G.H. Harding 

STAND TALL (Via The Canadian Press) Burton Cummings says he may consult a therapist for the first time to help overcome the psychological fallout of his recent car accident. The former Guess Who frontman says a month after the experience he’s still unable to shake the moment of the collision that totalled his car and left him with several injuries.

“Six or seven times it’s come back to me when I’m trying to sleep — I relive the sound of that crash. Man, I don’t want to sound like a little girl,” Cummings said.

“I’m 70, and for the first time in my life I think I’m going to have to get some work done mentally.”

The Winnipeg rocker, who will be honoured with a SOCAN Lifetime AchievementAward on June 18, insists he’s “never liked that idea” of paying for a psychotherapist, but would “gladly go” if it helped treat the hallmarks of post traumatic stress.

The musician posted a number of photos of the Los Angeles car accident — and his injuries — on Facebook last month.

Burton Cummings

The incident hasn’t changed Cummings’ perspective on life much, he insists, but it was one of the reasons he’s largely sworn off using Facebook. The social media platform was a place where he frequently shared memories of his career and photos of rare animals.

But he said a barrage of nasty comments from anonymous users criticizing his posts has left him disillusioned with the platform.

“I’m a pretty laid back guy online,” he said, “But I can’t do it anymore.”

Instead he’s focusing more time on reading books and his career highs, like the upcoming SOCAN award, which honours songwriters and composers. Cummings is known for his songwriting credits on the Guess Who’s “American Woman” and “These Eyes,” as well as hit solo efforts like “Stand Tall.”

“I’ve got a pile of awards, but the writing — that was always something I valued right at the top of the list careerwise,” he said.

“Everybody can sing, but people like Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers, they never wrote any of their own stuff. The minute the songwriting around them started to sputter and fail, they fell from grace.”

Cummings hopes to deliver a new album of material soon that’s comprised of songs he’s saved for several years. He’s become disillusioned with the concept of selling albums, pointing out that “not even Paul McCartney” can score a gold record anymore.

But it was a recent encounter with his old friend Myles Goodwyn at an airport that reinvigorated his passion. The April Wine frontman released a solo album in March that reminded Cummings that he, too, could still put out something fresh.

The latest batch of songs will follow a similar path of his past work, including his most recent effort, 2008’s Above the Ground, which mused on growing older and the greater meaning of life.

“The new songs are more curious,” he said.

PLAIN SPOKENI was always on the fence when it came to John Mellencamp. When he first came on the scene, billed as John Cougar Mellencamp, I never quite figured out what the allure was. Truth be told, at the time, his career was being somewhat manipulated by the controversial manager Tony DeFries – who handled David Bowie for many of his not best years. I didn’t know if he was a true-troubadour, or just some board-room creation. then, something happened. His 1993 album Human Wheels was a real revelation. Mellencamp kept his guitar strapped on, extending a period of rock-focused intensity that began with his “Whenever We Wanted.” The difference here was the intriguing way his band’s tough new musical turn was combined with darker themes and a few slow-burning R&B touches. That made for one of Mellencamp’s most emotionally satisfying records, one where hope is inevitably balanced by despair.

I’ve been a fan ever since. His just released Live CD/DVD Plain Spoken is a must-see, a blistering performance of an artist of the height of his powers. His voice may not what it once was, but his performances of “Troubled Man,” “Small Town,” “Rain On The Scarecrow” and “Paper In Fire” are totally satisfying. Mellencamp remains a true-original; one that took a number of years to perfect, but unique.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTENKate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s passing last week reminds us all of just how fragile life is. I met Kate several times throughout her career and always found her just delightful. Her work, neatly inscribed with her signature name, became an everyday occurrence. She was indeed, on top of the world. Inner demons … you never know, Bourdain, I first became aware of through a restaurant of his Les Halles (sadly, no longer here) that was among my favorites. I ate there very often and would see brief glimpses of him throughout. I loved his CNN show and wish now, I had caught more of them. Creativity – it burns at different intensities at different times and in different ways. While we miss them, we must be grateful always for their time shared here.

Joanna Bonaro

SHORT TAKESJoanna Bonaro’s Good ‘n Screwed won a Bronze REMI Award at the 51st WorldFest Houston Int’l Film Festival. Good n Screwed’s David Salidor reports that the show is at three major cablenets and thisclose to being picked up. Stay tuned … PBS just showed Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 The Dance where the iteration the group, with Lindsey Buckingham, re-grouped for the first time in a decade. I well remember when it came out and how terrific it was; but, this time, I was stunned. Mick Fleetwood is a tremendous drummer. Actually, one of the best I’ve ever seen. His time, rhythm, is beyond compare. Stevie Nick’s voice was just brilliant. And, Lindsey Buckingham, was, how do you say, spectacular. His unique finger picking style made him sound like three guitarists at one time. Say what you will, his presence and participation was just unparalleled. His re-working of his solo hit “Go Insane” was singularly brilliant. If you’re a fan and get a chance to re-visit this, please do …

Kirwan

Speaking of The Mac, Danny Kirwan, who played guitar in Fleetwood Mac from 1968 to 1972, has died aged 68. “Danny was a huge force in our early years,” said Mick Fleetwood from the band in a tribute on Facebook. “Danny’s true legacy, in my mind, will forever live on in the music he wrote and played so beautifully as a part of the foundation of Fleetwood Mac that has now endured for over 50 years. Thank you, Danny Kirwan. You will forever be missed!” At 18, Kirwan joined the band in their blues-rock era shortly after the release of second album Mr. Wonderful. He became the band’s third guitarist alongside Peter Green and Jeremy Spencer, and performed on their next five albums. It was a period of flux for the band – Green left in 1970, followed in 1971 by Spencer, who joined the Children of God cult, while Christine McVie joined the band in 1969. Kirwan developed an alcohol problem, and was eventually fired from the band in 1972, ushering in an even more unstable period before the arrival of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, which led to their period of greatest success. After leaving the band, Kirwan went solo and released four albums in the 70’s, featuring self-penned originals and idiosyncratic covers such as his reggae take on the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” His studio band once included Kirby Gregory from the bogus version of Fleetwood Mac, who briefly formed amid a battle over the rights to the band name in 1974. RIP Danny.

NAMES IN THE NEWS: Randy Hoffman; Andy Furhman; Michael Zilkha; Jeff Vogel; Peter Abraham; Steve Walter; William Schill; Jane Berk; Mark Bego; Jack Cunningham; Brad Balfour; and, KING CHIP.

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