With this post we mark the passing of Paul MacLeod, a truly excellent singer and songwriter. To all of his family and friends, our sincere condolences.
We used to go see Paul play at the Walper Pub in Kitchener on a weeknight. This would have been in 98 or 99, and it was always an excellent show. His talent and control was always great, and he seemed like a pretty chill, laid back dude. His songs were so very, very good, and his cover tunes were well-chosen, and played distinctively yet recognizeably.
My lovely wife (then my lovely girlfriend) talked to Paul once, after a show, when she bought his Tell The Band To Go Home CD from him directly. It wasn’t a long conversation, as others demanded his attention too, but he was very friendly. We still have that CD here today. Never got him to sign it, but that’s OK. It’s the music that matters.
My lovely wife says her strongest memory of Paul was how I raved about his shows, then the first time I took her to see him, he was at a corner table drinking with friends, and he just looked like a regular dude in a toque. But when he stepped to the mic and started playing, he was absolutely riveting, such a strong stage presence, a man totally in his element.
One night, he seemed to not know what to play next, so he asked for requests. Trying to crack him up, I shouted Dave Matthews! at him. He laughed (and did not play Dave Matthews).
I recall him using Massive Attack’s Mezzanine as between sets music, maybe only once but it was enough – it was likely the first place I heard that amazing record, so thanks for that, Paul!
Another time, he was between songs and asked if we wanted to hear half of a new song, one still in the process of being written, nowhere near done. A ‘halfie,’ he called it. Of course we did, and while I cannot tell you what the song was, even the part we heard was awesome.
One of my favourite cover tunes he did was the old standard, Everything Happens To Me. He always nailed that one.
My memory may be faulty on this one, but does anyone remember if he once did a songwriter’s workshop with Billy Bragg? That seems to stand out in my memory as something he mentioned one time (and imagine how awesome THAT would be), but I could be wrong.
On one occasion, he was playing a Fender Telecaster, highly unusual given his usual acoustic guitar usage. I can’t remember exactly what happened to his acoustic, whether it was stolen or damaged somehow, so he was making do with the electric and folks, he did mighty damn fine.
Fast forward a few years, and we’d moved to Saskatoon. Skydiggers were coming to town and we got tickets. I was excited to see Skydiggers live, but even more exciting was that Paul MacLeod was with them. We’d see him play again! James wrote it up, back then, and will be posting it here (in his inimitable, hilarious style).
I’ve written up most, if not all, of Paul’s brilliant solo work, in these pages, as well as the excellent Hibakusha CD. Every new release was an event! I should also dig out the Skydiggers records he was on and do those too. We always think we have all the time in the world…
If you’ve read this far, thank you for your patience. It’s just snippets of memories of over 15 years of listening to Paul MacLeod’s music, and catching him in concert a few times, here and there. I know that life wasn’t always easy for him or those around him, but I only know little bits about all of that. For me, it was always his music.