the story behind: “now’s the time”

This song has a rather complicated provenance, but ultimately it’s based on two things: an article about elections that I found when I visited Arnprior, and the superlative nature of the signs you see while driving into small towns. First, the article: it was about how several city councillors in Arnprior would not be running for re-election, and after the main thrust of the article it gave the brief history of some of the councillors – some of whom had long family histories full of council members. That kind of small-town dynasty is interesting, to me, because it involves both that sense of pride/legacy but also that feeling of being duty-bound or trapped in a role. It also speaks to the very personal, quiet aspect of a life lived and the nigh-universal struggle to make some sense and find some meaning in what we do. We like to think big – we put ourselves in the starring role – but we have other options, usually.

Something similar happens with the designations towns give themselves – “Canada’s Prettiest Town” (Goderich), “Ontario’s Most Talented Town” (Bancroft), and even “Gateway to The North” (North Bay; also called the “Smoothie Capital of The World”, which seems rather hyperbolic). There is a pride associated with those (sometimes self-appointed) distinctions, but also a bit of a duty to maintain them. But, you know, where does it come from? How does the pride get built up and how do you go about tearing it down? This song is about facing those sentiments and finding your own path.

But truth be told, it’s also about guitarmonies. That’s a nice portmanteau of guitar and harmonies, and I dig it because I dig harmonies. Matched guitar tones playing harmonized lines is as beautiful to me as any other type of string section, but so unique. John Law, our delightfully curmudgeonly lead guitarist, worked through the guitarmony section of this song with me – humouring my ideas and then easily outdoing me with inventive note runs and harmony ideas that make the “solo” section (a misnomer here, if ever there was one; except that John is playing all three different guitar lead parts in the recording) the real highlight of the song, in my mind.

And that’s another piece of the songwriting puzzle. I think anytime you can line up the music to support the lyrical content, both in theory and in practice, then that’s interesting. It may only be interesting to me. But what is harmony except another type of constraint that can be beautiful while being the ultimate limitation: here is a role that you must follow. You are duty-bound to do it. But within that limitation you can find the means to express yourself meaningfully, or at least that’s the hope. The harmonized guitar lines are the father and the son in that small-town political dynasty, pushing against each other, following each other, but also finding their own space.

The other option is that I overthink these things, and that’s viable too.

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