Samson’s One Great City! marked the love-hate relationship that Winnipeg residents endured with
Randy Bachman and Neil Young sang about the unbearable coldness of that same
place, with their Prairie Town. And Guess Who went Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon.
It’s the same as Samson’s Cruise Night, from Provincial. It’s set on Portage Avenue,
but all of us had (or have) our own strips. We drove a while in one direction, and
then turned around.
Samson could draw you a map to his song locales – it would take a couple of days
to hit them all by car. But that’s not the idea. “Most people aren’t going to make
that trip,” says Samson. “As a songwriter, you’re taking them places. And travel
gives you a new perspective, on where you’re from and who you are.”
The Weakerthans, One Great City, has the wonderful line "I hate Winnipeg" but the
imagery in the lines that precede it are wonderful - the description of mundane
parts of our lives that get us all to say we hate a place when we really are hating
the time and place because we wished we were doing something else.
John K. Samson, lead singer of The Weakerthansand 2011 Manitoba Cultural
Ambassador, may be best known for writing the ironic anthem "One Great City!"
which features the refrain "I hate Winnipeg."
But if you listen to John K Samson's lyrics and read his poetry, you know that this
just isn't true, as here is a man who wears his hometown on his sleeve.
With a new solo album titled Provincial and a book of lyrics and poems (aptly
titled Lyrics and Poems 1997-2012) that are both being released today, January
24, John K. Samson again has entered our cultural landscape.
But there is more to the man than meets the eye.
Lyrics and Poems is published by Samson's own publishing company Albeiter
Ring Publishing (ARP), which he co-founded in 1996 with writer/editor Todd
Scarth. And while the book brings together all of Samson's lyrics and a selection
of his poems from the last fifteen years, the solo album Provincial literally takes
its inspiration from several Manitoba roads, making for an album that again spins
stories from the our landscape.
"I started with the idea that I wanted to explore three different roads in Manitoba"