Wild Canadian Bird is one of the standouts here. A Raging Granny, Toronto Busker, Toronto Seed Lady, and one of the founders of the Green Party, this lady is a genius and released one hell of a rather unknown album.
Liner notes by Valerie Ross:
She can't sit down and write a song at the drop of a hat. She doesn't just pick up a guitar and release some brand new ballad with her fingers. She sometime plays badly for hours. Inspiration comes to her when she's trying to stir flour into the gravy that's burning on the stove, or when her daughter, Emilie, has a scabby and the baby has crappy pants. Inspiration comes to her when she's stirring in bed in the morning and the sunlight's too damn loud and the cat is screaming for breakfast. Inspiration comes when she's reading science fiction in the backyard garden, keeping watch over the tomato plants. And sometimes inspiration comes to her when she's standing in the freezing cold on Yonge Street trying to sell roses to those rich warm looking scoundrels who hurry by, or when the drunks stumble by wondering if she's got enough change to make up a bottle of Old Sailor. And there's the guy who's seen "The Godfather" 104 times and that crazy young Indian, and downtown Maggie herself.............
I asked Maria if she could write a little something about each track on this album. Here is what she came up with:
These songs were written during the time I spent as a ''rose lady'' during the late 60's and early '70's. It was a job, an inspiration and an education which involved buying flowers, (usually roses,) and selling them from a basket at a profit. There were a few of us who got together to buy our stock and we each had an area we liked to work that included Toronto tourist neighbourhoods and some of the discos, bars and dining spots that welcomed us in to sell our flowers to the customers.
Yolanda was a woman who I would often run into in the company of her partner and their baby. Yolanda had some significant disability from what I believe was cerebral palsy so she had to work harder at everything she did to get through her day. Having a disability just makes life more complicated and 50 years ago, this was even more true than it is today. I haven't seen them in decades and I hope things worked out for them.
Take it from Here:
Ewan MacColl sang this tune (traditional, I think,) to lyrics depicting the lives of British lorry drivers. I loved the tune but I was driving baby carriages and leading a very domestic private life so I wrote lyrics I could relate to so I had an excuse to sing that melody.
This song has a bit of a bluegrass feel which I enjoy and is about a lot of people I've known, even some I am related to, who made choices their families couldn't relate to. Some were (or felt) set adrift and never considered going home when things didn't work out. Others lived in my Mum's rooming house with their secret toddlers. Many much preferred their liberated, big city lives.
The ups and downs of an ultimately doomed romance. What else can I say?
Hard Luck Love:
Observing street life, I saw some of these relationships develop. The mean streets of Toronto always had some homeless, mentally ill and/or addicted people and this became more apparent after institutional care was replaced by ...ahem, community living. Unfortunately, the community that was meant to replace the institutions was a fiction and the people had to become their own community, as far as that was possible. In a few cases I know of, it worked out!
All Night Movie:
This song was written with Barry Charles Hyman, a poet, with whom I had discussed Sammy, a young Palestinian immigrant who had seen The Godfather 104 times (and counting...don't know how many more times he might have seen it after that.) I never knew what drove his obsession but he seemed amused by his own eccentricity. Barry would take a scenario and run with it so I was happy to sing it.
Winter Morning Room:
This song came from a vision. Sometimes I have gotten these experiences where an imagined situation seems to claim possession of my reality and I just KNOW that this is happening somewhere...somewhen. I knew nothing about theories about the nature of time and space (and know almost as nothing now) except now I know there are geniuses looking into it. Whew! Sometimes these things are about the past but are sometimes a bit precognitive.
Making Love To the Devil:
If I was going to sing something bluesey, it would have to be this. Having love and desire take over one's consciousness from time to time is a big deal and requires some singing about.
Stained With Sorrow:
Well, when we meet somebody, be warned, they may have baggage.
A more optimistic view on the experience of meeting somebody.
Wild Canadian Bird:
I met a lot of Indigenous folks in my rose lady years. As my family were intermarried with Indigenous people through several connections, I was usually glad to connect with people from other nations and areas. Some were very traumatized and traumatizing experiences as some of these people were very young, lost, confused, sometimes having health emergencies right on a busy street...this was decades before cell phones, people mostly ignored their situation as they did the many other crises and tragedies and I'd end up coordinating a call for an ambulance or calming somebody down temporarily. They were sometimes very emotional and shared bits and pieces of what were clearly bigger stories.
She was a real girl, always dressed in a Goth style with long slinky dresses and long dark hair. Her mannerisms resembled those of Mae West more than those of a typical modern girl. She had a guy who was trying to put her to work and she seemed to want to please him. She called him Clyde and I never saw him so he was either keeping out of sight or....perhaps she made him up for street cred. I still wonder what became of her but can find nobody with her real name. I hope I see her again some day.
Produced by Chuck Goudie
Engineered by Ken Friesen
Executive Producer: Jury Krytiuk
Recorded at Eastern Sound, Toronto, Ontario