Everyone loves a Parade

Saint John singer-songwriter Clinton Charlton joined ‘Serf City’ for a chat on this week’s show. Good sport that he is, Charlton also played a couple of tunes from his new record, ‘Parade’, even though he was battling a nasty cold. The following commentary, inspired by a story Charlton tells about his father, kicked off the May 21, 2009, episode of ‘Serf City’ radio, which airs Thursdays at 6:30 pm on CFMH 107.3 FM. Listen to the commentary plus the interview and performance by Charlton here.

By Mark Leger

In the corner of my living room, behind a CD rack and an old, worn-out chair, sits a guitar – out of tune and coated with a layer of dust. I bought it in a moment of inspiration three years ago, thinking I’d learn to play it – for real this time.

I first bought a guitar 20 years ago at university in Halifax. I took lessons with a friend, and learned some finger-picking exercises, half-a-dozen chords and a few songs. In the music department at the university, there was a beginner course in guitar. When I went to the department to sign up, the instructor told me to play a little for him. I strummed some chords and did some finger-picking exercises. He grimaced and rather unkindly told me I should take up something else – anything other than the guitar.

I went back to my university residence and set the guitar down in a corner of my room. I carted it around for several years after that and made occasional, uninspired attempts to play. Living in Toronto in my mid-20s, I eventually gave the guitar away, to my then-girlfriend, a musician who wanted another guitar to play around with.

I went without one for 10 years or so before I was inspired to give it another try – but not inspired enough to practice and improve beyond the basics. I hauled it out again when I found out Janet was pregnant because I thought it would be to play and sing to my newborn son. I’ve since learned that he does indeed love music – performed by other, more talented people than myself.

I thought back upon those woeful attempts to learn to play guitar while reading background notes about tonight’s guest – Saint John singer-songwriter Clinton Charlton.

His father was a music fan and always wanted to play guitar. He bought one but, like me, never did learn to play. He eventually gave that guitar to his son who did. On tonight’s show, we’ll listen to some of Clinton’s tunes and talk to him about his music and upcoming launch show.

Reflecting on Clinton’s story, I think maybe I’ll hold onto my guitar. Maybe one day my son Jack will want to learn, and grow up to be as talented and dedicated as Clinton.

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