On October 18, 1957,  John Lennon and Paul McCartney play their first gig together, at a Conservative club social in Liverpool. 

    On the same date, In Toronto, my mom is up just past midnight watching the Yankees win the World Series in extra innings.  Early the next morning, I am born.


October 17, 1961, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger meet on the northbound Dartford Railway platform. Mick is carrying his Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters LPs under his arm.  In that instant they pass from acquaintances to fate.


The next day is my fourth birthday. I run in from playing outside,  winter coat and hat and gloves still on, throw myself in my child sized rocking chair,  and listen to my set of four records of  traditional american (canadian) songs, studying the dancing line drawings on the cover. Which one was Sweet Betsy from Pike?  Who was Barbry Allen?


1962- 1966

The heavy grey car crushes the road, purring home from my grandad’s, in the lands they would appropriate for the airport.  Black black skies above us, a few stars, enormous silent space for radio waves to pass through the night.


My head on my mother’s lap in the front seat, throbbing heart-beat bass, strings stab the spaces in the lyrics. “It’s over it’s over it’s over” the last note reaching up to say goodbye.


Mid-summmer sun coming to a point on the car window. Driving to Boyd conservation area. “Roll out those lazy hazy crazy days of summer. Those days of pretzels and popcorn and beer.” The song familiar, first as a carousel rhythm, and then, suddenly,my ears opening  to the lyrics. The same reaction I always had- rivetted that a song could be about THIS, the nickel dropping as I saw a song could be THAT.


    Climbing up onto the piano stool. Playing, playing what I felt, feeling my fingers turning into muscle inside the dark wood,  a-ha- this note leads to that- 

Forced to stop “playing around”, and practice, I stop playing.


Ed Sullivan. Amongst the jugglers, the comics, the broadway songs, suddenly the Kinks, the Four Tops, the Supremes, the Beatles. At Uncle Fred’s farm, the elder daughter into Elvis in bad movies on TV. I looked, curious, but couldn’t make it make sense. The younger daughter spinning “High Tides and Green Grass, the Stones. I spend all day by the record player,  fuzz guitar and drum’s snap screwing into my brain. Also intrigued by “Lady Jane”- dulcet dulcimer romance.

Grade three, playing “the Beatles” on the school playground. Making up new words to Beatles’ songs, singing them, and then having girls chase you across the playground.



  We moved to Saint Louis Missouri, crossing the border and almost crossing the Mason-Dixon line in a powder blue Acadian. Driving for two blistering fourteen hour days with my mom, my dad behind the wheel, my big sisters Judy and Janet. Sam, our black tomcat drugged to the gills to survive the drive, swaying from side to side and lowing like a cow, long obscene notes, a free jazzer’s accompaniment to his backseat litter box.


Everyday, driving to school past Katz, a drug store as big as my grandad’s home town, that sold ‘everything in the world that you could possibly imagine’.

The radio- 


My Little Red Book

Dock of the Bay

Psychotic Reaction


Janet sitting me down in her room and playing me Maggie’s Farm, very serious, asking me, what does it mean?


In Mike Killian’s living room- I Can See For Miles/Mary Anne with the Shaky Hands- (again, a song can be this?) My heart opens to the concept of ‘b-side”, suddenly older, with Mike, (older, cooler) feeling rock and roll in a different way and I just want to hear it again, again!


Grade 5 I form my first group, inviting three friends over for the day. Billy Crawdad can’t play his guitar so he sits on a stool, head down, dragging his thumb over the strings. Dave makes some noises on the drums he can’t play. There is a trumpet, and at the end of the day I sing our song, “Plutonian Invaders (coming after me)”  to Dave’s dad and my mom. 


It doesn’t sound all that different from stuff I would later do. I’m irritated because they don’t take it seriously. They don’t actually listen.



    Move back to Toronto. Somehow the truck is waylaid, lost, and for two weeks, we have no furniture. Alone in our two story split level, a week till school starts, too shy to go out and make friends. 

Sun in large windows fills room with light. Lying on the cool tile floor. House  empty, all I have is a portable record player and my sister Judy’s copy of “The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter”, the Incredible String Band, listen to it over and over, reading the picture on the cover, at first it doesn’t make sense...


Playing football in the snow at school, laughing, turning to catch a pass. Wet football squirts through my hands and hits me in the corner of my eye.  I shrug it off, bruised, don’t want to admit anything serious happened. Two days later I sit on the edge of my bed. I can’t see anything out of my right eye.

To the Sick Kids Hospital. Two weeks lying in a hospital bed, eyes bandaged, with a transistor radio. Drugged, in and out of sleeping pills, stuck to the mantra emanating from the little plastic box (the transistor radio, one of the most perfect sounds that technology has ever produced.) The Supremes orchestra flourishing “I’m living in Shame”. I follow the story, see the city girl and her backwoods mom. Ironically, the Guess Who “These Eyes”. Mostly, It’s the “Time of the Season”.

What is this, at once so confectionary and so solid?


I realize now that I did experience the 60’s. I’m too young for the drugs and sex, but I see the changes in Life magazine and on TV, and because I GET the music, I get it. I see how my sisters and I are not going to grow into adults like my parents, old at forty.  And this is before my parents go away and Judy holds a party where she SMOKES DRUGS and they play the first Crosby Stills and Nash album over and over and over and she is very warm to me in a blurry way, but when I try to go to sleep all I hear are Crosby Stills and Nash’s voices, soft harmony spears  punctuating the silence every fifteen seconds-  










And what was Ken Badger doing in the mid sixties?

“the band's name was the Mercenaries.  Sound track for the photos is Richard & the Young Lions 'Open Up Your Door"...we did it.   the guitar player let me use his fuzz box.” (25 years later this was the title track of the Scenics’ LP)


“Or maybe 'It's all right' from Got Live if You Want It.  the little guy with the guitar was Mike Waddell..he wrote a song but was mostly infatuated with Stones stuff.   'Tell Me' 'Heart of Stone', etc....we did em all.  he was the guy who drove that band...”  (Ken Badger on bass, left. Mike Waddell, 2nd left.)




   We get into the family car and my father drives me downtown from the suburbs, to Beverly St in Toronto’s market district, a block down from the Ontario College of Art, where I would see Talking Heads play  (as a trio) on their first trip to Toronto  five years later.

  It is early spring, late in the evening,  the air moist in that way which makes it feel like everything in the planet is connected, through and in the air.  Which, of course, it is.

   We park the car at the address I’d  been given after phoning the number in the Bargain Hunter. My dad waits, sitting in the car in the dark while I go inside.

   A tall man with a beard and long hair, slim, meets me at the door, and we wind along the hardwood hallway and down the stairs to the basement. The lights dim, the house quiet.

   I ducked my head to clear the floor joists on my way down. The basement room had carpet on the floor and the walls.


   A Fender Twin amp leans back on it’s fold out chrome supports, and leaning against it, in a pool of light,  a 1963 Telecaster, honey brown.

   The light on the amp glows. I pick up the guitar, hearing it crinkle through the amp as my fingers wrap around the strings.

I slide the strap over my shoulder. Even silent, the guitar is perfect.

  I play the opening to Brown Sugar, unable to decipher what would be the coolest, defaulting to who I am. Sound barks out of the speakers, slinky and in command. I don’t play anything else. I don’t need to. I slide my hand down the neck. Perfect. Coiled and weighty and unyielding against my body. Everything it was supposed to be. 

   There’s a black hardshell case in the corner. I put the guitar in the case. I don’t bargain, I hand him $230. I walk back up the stairs carrying the case, back up to the street, to the world outside, the dark spring air, the idling car with the voices on the radio. A different person.   I am 14 years old.