Skip to main content
// //

‘I need to keep performing and learning and growing, and interacting with musicians and audiences,’ Doug Paisley says.

The Globe and Mail

In Between the Acts, The Globe and Mail takes a look at how artists manage their time before and after a creative endeavour.

In between attempts to record the follow-up to 2014's Strong Feelings LP, the Toronto alt-country troubadour Doug Paisley has kept busy with a stay at an iconic poet's cottage and a low-key residency at one of Canada's landmark music venues. Paisley spoke to The Globe about inspiration, perspiration and playing music as an end in itself.

I spent a week last summer at Al Purdy's cottage on Roblin Lake in Prince Edward County, east of Toronto. It's used as a writer's retreat now. It was moving. There's so much of him there – very personal stuff. Someone welcomed me to go through the cassette collection. There was a tape of Al and his wife and another couple having dinner. For some reason, the tape recorder was on.

Story continues below advertisement

I found an envelope of seeds for the vegetable garden. He had written a critique of that plant's performance: "Big squash, but not very good, 1978," for example.

I worked a bit in his writing room, which was the real nucleus of the whole environment. I got a sense of his struggle. Really, it was a full force of him that I felt. As far as what I got out of it, it was more inspiration than perspiration. I actually did write some poems, which I never do. But mostly, being there is just something that goes on your psychic map.

I took on a weekly residency at the Cameron House, on Queen Street West in Toronto. I need to keep performing and learning and growing, and interacting with musicians and audiences. But also, I think a gig like that is done in defiance of some of the complications of having a professional music career, which seems to involve a lot of other people and a lot of protocol and rules about where and when you can play.

It's liberating to just go and play at a place like the Cameron. It's where I started 15 or so years ago. On Gillian Welch's Time (The Revelator) album, there's a song about how music is free. She has a great line: "I was going to do it anyway, even if it didn't pay." That's how I feel. It's something I'm always doing, and I'm not doing it toward an end.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies