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The Walking (And Constantly) ( Jane Siberry Cover ) 05.20.09

Jane Siberry made a huge impression on me in my first year of college in 1984. She had piqued my interest—as she had with so many—in the weeks leading up to my departure from Sarnia, Ontario to the big city of Brampton—which was only a 45 minute Go Bus-ride to metropolitan Toronto—because her video for Mimi On The Beach was in heavy rotation at the newly-created Moses Znaimer-owned Much Music channel, broadcast nationwide here in Canada.

The 1984 Jane Siberry album No Borders Here—on cassette!—was one of my first purchases on one of my first consumer visits to the then bustling and vibrant collective of Toronto record stores in the Yonge/Dundas area. I can’t overstate the impact listening to that landmark album had on me. It was pure music cinema, nothing like anything I had heard to that point in small town Ontario, and it kept me and my Walkman company on those sometimes solitary late-night Brampton/Toronto bus rides. My exposure to Jane’s work fundamentally opened myself up to more types and kinds of music, and I’ll always attribute that gift to her.

The song The Walking (And Constantly) came two albums later, in 1987. By then I had graduated from Sheridan College and was working at Nelvana (an animation house), ironically sharing an office with one of the people who helped art direct/set decorate the Mimi On The Beach music video, Carol Bradbury (a mentor and a lifelong friend.) I remember playing the album The Walking (the album was named after the track) for months in the office. Thankfully my boss Kim Cleary, Carol and I had rather synchronized musical tastes.

I connected to the album’s deeply introspective tenor and asymmetrical, avant-garde musicality. The Walking (And Constantly) resonated with me from a melodic perspective. Jane knew how to structure harmony in a sophisticated way for full, dramatic, cinematic impact. I also connected to its very personal lyric of love and loss. It may hold emotional space indicative of its very personal lyric. It nevertheless is a transcendent piece of art.

I will admit, the song is a challenge to sing. My voice does not have the range. I searched for a way to sing it by dropping the song a tone, and lowering passages by a full octave, perhaps affecting it’s overall expansiveness structurally. I’m not sure. I may have added in a chord or two to resolve those challenges. It is what it is. Some might resolve themselves to the fact that the song doesn’t fit their personal limitations, yet it’s been a favourite of mine for 22 years, and the song has always meant a lot to me. I gave it a go. More people need to know about this song.

When Jane’s 1989 follow-up Bound By The Beauty was released, it was noticeably lighter in flavour, yet still marvelous, with many fun highlights. It contains the song The Valley, which is another song by Jane that I would consider a standard. k.d lang added this to her concert repertoire.It’s marvelous and transcendent.

The first time I was fortunate enough to meet Jane, in December 2006, when she played Hugh’s Room in Toronto, I brought another musician friend, violinist extraordinaire, Alex Cheung. We approached her after her set to get our cds signed and to say hello. After introducing ourselves, Jane immediately turned to Alex saying that she sensed the spirit of an artist in Alex. Intuitive on her part, given how extraordinary an artist he is.

Jane still releases albums. She can be found here.