Jim Cuddy will tour Arts and Culture Centres in the province this month with his other group, The Jim Cuddy Band. — Photo courtesy of Warner Music Canada
Canadian filmmaker Rena Polley had a soundtrack to her 2010 short comedy “Four Sisters” in her back pocket without even knowing it, it seems.
It’s one of the perks of having an acclaimed singer/songwriter for a husband.
Polley has been married to Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy for about 25 years, though this was the only time he had been involved in one of her film projects.
“When I saw it, I said she should have a song for the credits, and I happened to have just the song,” Cuddy told The Telegram. “I wrote that song and the way I recorded it, because I had so little time, was I just got everybody in the same room and I could point to them when I needed them to solo.”
Cuddy was so pleased with the results, he used the live-off-the-floor recording format as the template for his latest solo record, “Skyscraper Soul,” released in late September.
On a creative roll after writing for the film, Cuddy said he locked himself in Blue Rodeo’s Woodshed Studio, wrote songs and assembled pretty much the same people he had used for the “Four Sisters” soundtrack and recorded them.
“Skyscraper Soul” is Cuddy’s third solo effort. “All in Time,” released in 1998, went gold in Canada, and 2006’s “The Light That Guides You Home” earned him a Juno for Adult Alternative Album of the Year.
Cuddy’s solo material tends to be more personal, more closer to the bone than the songs he writes for Blue Rodeo, he explained, and he never trades one for the other.
“I write them specifically for me or the band. I don’t ever want to get myself in a compromising situation where I feel like I’m holding back a song or guiding it for one project or another,” he explained. “When Blue Rodeo needs songs, I sit and I write songs. There are different voices in my head when I’m writing — I’m hearing those guys and what they’ll add and what would be good to represent them.
“I really try to write with them as instruments — what would Greg do in this, what would he play on guitar — and they’re all pretty accepting. Or not.”
The first single from “Skyscraper Soul” is “Everyone Watched the Wedding,” inspired by the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
He’s never been much of a royalist, Cuddy said, but something about the royal wedding and how it drew people in, all over the world, affected him.
He went into the studio to work on a different project, but half an hour later had the tune completely drafted.
It was more than the money and the pageantry of the event that drew everyone’s attention, Cuddy concluded.
“There’s lots of that stuff out there — you just need to watch the Kardashians,” he said. “There’s something inspiring about somebody sort of giving of themselves for their people. It goes back to watching ‘The King’s Speech,’ which I watched a bunch of times because it was on flights when I was travelling. I was so struck by what an enormous sacrifice George VI had to make to end up being king, and I think he really understood that in order to be king you had to be completely separate from the public. When I heard there were two billion people going to watch the wedding of Will and Kate, I started to read about Will because he seemed to be a sacrificing character.”
He wondered what the excitement of it all would do to someone with a normal life with a few desperate edges.
“I tried to write a song about how the wedding would lift you up out of your life for a while, but, unfortunately, would plunk you back down in your life, sometimes worse for wear.”
In the end, Cuddy was swept up in the day as much as anyone else, he said.
“I had to watch the wedding or else the song would sound totally phony,” he said. “I don’t have an opinion or any predilections towards the royalty, but I did think Will was an inspiring character.”
Cuddy, with Blue Rodeo, has never been away from Newfoundland and Labrador too long, and will make a number of stops with The Jim Cuddy Band — Colin Cripps, Bazil Donovan, Joel Anderson, Steve O’Connor and Anne Lindsay — at Arts and Culture Centres in this province next week as part of an Atlantic Canada tour in support of “Skyscraper Soul”: Nov. 10 in Corner Brook, Nov. 11 in Stephenville, Nov. 12 in Grand Falls-Windsor, Nov. 13 in Gander and Nov. 16 in St. John’s.
After gigs in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Cuddy will be back to play in Labrador West Nov. 27.
The band will be on the road at least until February, and then Cuddy will prepare for a big year with Blue Rodeo, putting out another record and celebrating the 25th anniversary of the release of “Outskirts,” their debut album.
The disc contained the country rock group’s first Canadian hit, “Try,” and launched a career that has seen 12 studio albums and two live albums, a greatest hits collection and an award-winning DVD, five Juno awards for Group of the Year, and an induction into Canada’s Walk of Fame.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Cuddy said.
Between the solo gigs and the band work, does he ever get burned out?
“I don’t. I mean, I must, I feel tired, but I’m making music and keeping my skills sharp by working a lot. It’s the people around me that get burned out,” he replied, laughing.
Tickets for Cuddy’s shows in this province are $35, plus surcharges, and are available online at www.artsandculturecentre.com.