Canadian Musician - March / April 2018 - Page 58

PHOTO: JODI DUNLOP WRITING Stefanie Blondal Johnson is a singer-songwriter and frontwoman of the Canadian garage pop band Mise en Scene. She works as a visual artist and consultant based in Gimli, MB. By Stefanie Blondal Johnson Songs of Inspiration Part 1 I always thought I was born in the wrong decade. There is a certain melancholy and memory that I have about a time I never existed in. I’m certain that I am not alone in these sen- timents, yet as a result, the music that tends to call to my soul and speak to my heart is from a different time. Maybe it’s their timelessness or maybe it’s a deep personal connection to how I relate my own existence to them, but these songs have shaped my life and my song- writing. They are the songs that have never left me, that have grown with me in my life, that have taught me my craft and about life. Like any good song, they continue to be my friend through the good times and the bad. The following songs, through their hon- esty, poetry, and emotional complexity, have inspired my songwriting the most. I truly be- lieve that you can only write about what you know, and the artistry lies in how you describe those emotions through your song. The fol- lowing songs have taught me this honesty, sincerity, and truth, all aspects I value so much in songwriting. Bob Dylan – “Positively Fourth Street” “I wish that for just one time You could stand inside my shoes And for just that one moment I could be you Yes I wish that for just one time You could stand inside my shoes You’d know what a drag it is to see you” This is a timeless “f*ck you” song I think everyone wishes they wrote. I find it very difficult to tap into that kind of personal anger that Dylan is expressing in this song. I personally find it difficult to properly de- scribe these emotions in a poetic way. I wish I could write a song so direct, so honest, and so on point. I find myself whispering, “I couldn’t have said it better myself” every time I hear “Positively Fourth Street.” I’ve lis- tened to this song several times during dif- ferent frustrating and conflict-ridden times in my life and it applies every time. That’s how you know it is an exceptional song; it stands the test of time and circumstance. Leonard Cohen – “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” Big Star – “Thirteen” “Maybe Friday I can Get tickets for the dance And I’ll take you” When I first heard this song, I stopped. I put everything down and just sat and listened. I was immediately transported to my child- hood, as a young girl learning about love for the first time. The sweetness of the vocal delivery, the way they play the acoustic guitars like a story, the simplicity of the arrangement transcends me to a memory I love to revisit. The magic of music is that it can take you to places your memory would have never remembered. 58 • C A N A D I A N M U S I C I A N “I don’t mean to suggest that I loved you the best, I can’t keep track of each fallen robin” This is the first Leonard Cohen song I fell in love with. There are many that I adore, but this one was the first to connect with my soul, and you never forget your first love. It is one of the first songs I learned how to play when I was teaching myself how to play guitar. It takes me back to when I was living in Montreal, studying at McGill and wanting to write songs. This song is about his [YH][\[]H[XH[[][ܚ]K][˜X]H]\X[K]Y\HYB\وݙx)]\HXX[[[[YKH[Y[X\\[ H[YKH[K[Hۙ[[\ˈYK\ۙX\BY[[و^Hۙܚ][\^KHY[\ܛZ[[[۝X[[H\[ݙB]\ۙ[][Z[YH\H^B\[ۈY\H[HH\Y[\[H\XK\[[X\B]Hܙ\Y\\[^H]\X\Y\B[^\[Y[YZ[]HY\B\\\[[][ۈ[H[[\[BY][Y\Y[Z[H\\]HX[]HوB]\XX[&\\^H[]\X[ݙK؈[[8$8'X[ۙYݙx'B'H][[[\HX]H[H\YH\YXHX\HܛYHٙXH[\\^HXY[YH]8&\[YHXZHH[B]^HX\\[[YHHݙHXH][x&\B[x'B\ۙ\X]H[\[YHۙBY[[]\[YHX]HHݙ\YZ[\\H[ۙ\ۙH[X[X]\\H[]\[]X][ۋ\\H؈[[\]\Y\ۙHوH[[Y[X[ۙܚ]\x&]H]\ۛۋB[]\[ۙH[܈؈[[&\\X]YH[[Z\]\X]\HH\XBXZH[HY[ZHH\XZ[\XB[H[[\]X][ۋH]Hٝ[\ܚXY\ۙY[\HY[]H[][ۜ\[۸&]ۛ]\۝[YH[]܈ [H[ۛHH[و]]\[B[X[ۈ[\ݙH]]\ۂ܈ Y[HYH][[&\\X]K[x&[ۛ][YH[H[ \ۙ\][YH]X\X]BۈH\\وݙH[[\[[]˜X\ˈ܈YK]\[\[X]\œۙ\]X[]H[[HH\[œ[[[\ۈYKHۙ&\X[]H[\BH[H[[\YH܈]\X[ۈXZ\]H\H\[YXHو\