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Myles Goodwyn Talks April Wine & Long Pants
My philosophy is, "Don't do it unless it is from the heart and for the right reasons. Try to do something special each time you create a new [song]. Songs that come easily are usually decent songs. The ones that take months or years, I mean, they usually aren't worth it....you try to fish, you get it on the line, and some just sink away."
May, 2022 by Abbe Davis
When I was growing up in our home in South Florida, my two older brothers would play some cool music. It was Rock 'n Roll and Hits booming through the rooms. One song that always got to me was called "Just Between You and Me" by April Wine. First, his clean, strong voice seeped of emotion, and then the song itself, a love ballad - an earnest, private moment that oozed of the real thing in songwriting, and the vulnerability of love. The guitar playing was perfection in its own right, by Brian Greenway. I was hooked! Anytime I hear it, to this day, I get misty-eyed. Other hot songs that put April Wine solidly not only on the National Map, but on the International landscape are: "Sign of the Gypsy Queen," "Roller", "You Could Have Been A Lady," and "I Like To Rock." The songs revved up stadiums full of people who wanted to Rock.
Myles Goodwyn is the singer, guitarist, writer, producer and leader of the multi-Platinum selling Rock band from Canada, April Wine. He has shaped and directed the group from its earliest beginnings. April Wine has sold over 10 million recordings worldwide.
Myles and the other members of April Wine were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2010. Goodwyn received the prestigious East Coast Music Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, and the SOCAN National Achievement Award in 2002.
In 2016 Myles released his memoir, Just Between You and Me, which became an instant bestseller on the Globe and Mail's Non-Fiction List. His second book, Elvis and Tiger (fiction) was published in 2017, and was also very well received.
The Myles Goodwyn and Friends of the Blues recording, was released in 2018. By 2019 the album earned international acclaim and a Juno Nomination for Blues Recording of the Year, as well as an ECMA award for Blues Recording of the Year. His follow up Blues album, Myles Goodwyn and Friends of the Blues 2, won the same Blues category in 2020.
This year, Myles continues to record and perform with April Wine, as well as doing acoustic trio shows with Jim Henman and Bruce Dixon. His latest solo album of thought-provoking songs is titled, Long Pants. April Wine's new album will be out in the year ahead. Suffice it to say, Myles Goodwyn keeps himself very busy with Music these days, still.
AD: Are you and April Wine touring just yet?
MG: Not yet, but we will be in July. It was a couple of years off due to COVID. We are having fun being back together with our crew, and are excited about getting out there.
AD: It must be a blast to have that performance buzz again.
MG: Exactly, it's nice, very, very nice.
AD: Didn't you just do a May 14th Ukraine Benefit concert, this past Saturday?
MG: Yes, and it was pretty cool. There are families in Nova Scotia, families being brought in from Ukraine, due to the war with Russia. Millions of people are misplaced, so it was to raise music and help the cause. One family had arrived a week ago, a mom and her two children; a five year old girl, and the boy was about 12 or so. They aren't sure about where their father is right now. But they were at this event in Canada, and the President of the Canadian Congress was there, and it was music, celebration, and some tears. Money was raised and I was happy to be a part of it. I released a song, "For Ukraine" a month ago, so they asked me to be a part of it due to that song.
AD: It's so important with everything going on right now, to raise money for the families, and for peace. I hope the proceeds can do some good. Let' talk about your path in Music, how young were you when Music first got to you?
MG: Primarily I got into music at a very young age. I was born in 1948, Country music on the radio, and then Elvis and the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show on TV. Also, my dad took us to live concerts in Nova Scotia.
AD: An interesting time of Music! When did you first pick up the guitar, or know that you could sing? How did that develop over time?
MG: I don't know, I would guess age six or seven. Music came from my mom's side and she died in 1969 when I was 11. Yet it was her side of the family that was very musical. I had an Uncle who played in a Country band that toured in the northeast coast. He was from Nova Scotia. I didn't take to singing until I got into April Wine. The first album I sang on some songs, and by the third album I was the lead singer, and have been singing ever since. Guitar and singing just was something I did, I kept playing Marty Robbins tunes, and TV was an influence. Roy Rogers had his TV show in the 50's. I was like anyone, and I had an ear for it.
AD: Well, my brothers played Rock music in our house, and pop hit songs, so your song "Just Between You and Me" hit home with me. I had some traumatic stuff going on, and whenever I heard that song, it felt like a best friend to me. Do you have some songs that get to you deeply like an old friend?
MG: Well, I can relate, my mom died when I was younger and my brothers and I never recovered from that, so my salvation was Music, clearly. It was my way out of the reality that I was living in during that time. We didn't have much money. We had a home with no running water. Our humble beginnings, and my mom's passing was a lot of pain. In my trio, I do April Wine songs, and we reference earlier songs. One song that I relate to like that was by the Beach Boys, called "In My Room," a beautiful song and we do that in three-part harmony. But there were so many songs like that from when I was younger. My favorite songs were where I would go, to get away from everything else.
AD: I hear you. These days, which songs are you still not tired of when you perform them?
MG: Well most of what we play I feel that way about, because we have a long history in Canada, so like "Fast Train" and more. I mean, with all of the years of success, I decided a long time ago to only do the songs that I enjoy doing. If there's an April Wine song that is a pain to play, then I won't do it. But "Just Between You and Me," or "Roller," well, the whole place rocks when we do those. Also with "Rock 'n Rolls A Vicious Game," or "I Like to Rock." People know the songs, so the audience comes alive. We play songs recognizable, and in Canada, for six or seven years before we finally broke with the two songs, we had a large catalogue. I like all of the songs we play cause they have meaning to me, as well.
AD: Yes, it's like if you go to a Paul McCartney show, your mind will wind up going through decades and moments in a lifetime, when you listen to his songs. Do you yourself ever feel that way when you play the set list?
MG: I'm just kind of in the moment. I don't go to many live concerts, but I did recently, when Sting passed through. It's amazing when you start listening to songs like "Roxanne." That single was the first breakthrough song for the Police. At that same time I was recording The Nature of the Beast when they came out with that. Richard Branson had just signed them. I remember when I heard the name of their band, The Police, I felt it was a cool name! So yeah, when I recently went to the show and was watching Sting, I remembered things about that time.
AD: Such is the power of Music. In 1977 you opened up for "The Cockroaches," which everyone figured out right away was really The Rolling Stones. Do you have memories about that gig?
MG: How could I forget that?! Are you serious? LOL I do. We played a charity concert at the famed El Mocambo in Toronto. We opened for The Stones, and it was a crazy couple of days. Particularly intense because, Keith Richard had been busted for heroin then, and there was the possibility that he would go to jail. But he got a slap on the wrist. Now, you and I would not have gotten away with that.
AD: LOL! Well, we al know that he will outlive us all regardless, so there it is.
MG: Ha, yeah, we know he will.
AD: How does it feel, chance moments with your idols on stage, how has that been for you?
MG: Well, I've played with more people than I can really remember. I mean I'll see a poster someplace, and I'll see that April Wine played with Cheech and Chong, and I don't remember that.
AD: Neither do they! LOL!
MG: Ha, for different reasons, yeah. Or the Doobie Brothers, when I see a poster and our name with another band, it's pretty cool. I remember meeting Rick Derringer for the first time, and realizing that he (he later recorded on my Blues albums) had sung the tune, "Hang On Sloopy." I had been playing that in cover bands. We are about the same age, but he was so young when he began his career. So that's a cool thing. For my 2018 and 2019 Blues albums, he played on Myles Goodwyn and Friends of the Blues. It's interesting when this happens, and I'm sure many musicians can relate.
AD: It's always cool to go from idolizing them to enjoying it at another level, as your peers in Music. You have a solo album Long Pants coming out soon, and it has "For Ukraine" and "Will the Last Sound I Hear Be An Angel" on it. Do you feel there will be some final sign at the end of your life, what made you write it?
MG: I mean, I am a songwriter so it was natural for me to write it, but I did a Christmas show to raise money for children. So, in Canada, this telethon is called the Christmas Daddies Telethon, and it has been around since the 60's. I did the song "Put Your Hand in the Hand" for the telethon, and it came out so well with my three piece trio that I told the guys, "The spiritual songs come out so well, I wonder if I could write a spiritual song?" And though this may sound strange, I was about four days into writing the song, "Will the Last Sound I hear Be An Angel" when I was contacted to be a judge in a spiritual contest. So, I asked them why they were asking me to be a judge on the panel for this, and they said they liked my songwriting, and I told them they were calling to ask just as I am writing a spiritual song!
MG: My friend says that my song is a prayer, but for me, it's a song. It is how I feel about things, spiritually.
AD: It's a beautiful song. Now, your partner, Kim is from an indigenous tribe. What are her spiritual beliefs? Does she feel, as I do, that we are all too distracted, and how we could be more spiritual if we just slowed down?
MG: It's probably a very true statement. Yes, she is very spiritual, and is a devout Catholic. She prays a lot, yet she doesn't talk about it or wear a cross. So, when I wrote "Will the Last Voice I Hear Be An Angel?" and played it for her, she had tears in her eyes and told me I had to do it.
AD: Sweet. Who in your life has been pivotal for you, or a few people maybe, with your career?
MG: There is not one person. We are all affected by people we meet. I don't have that one person. I mean so many musicians, so many people. Nice things happen thru friendships or happenstance at every level of life.
AD: Has Music been your religion and blessing, is that fair to say?
MG: Yes, it is fair to say. I'm very grateful for Music, cause I was studying Mechanical Design and Engineering. My intention was to join the Air Force and travel. Then, at the recruiting office, I found out that I had a heart murmur, which was an issue, and also that the type of work I wanted to do was done mostly by civilians. So, I walked away, and halfway thru my final year at school, I left and picked up a guitar, and I never looked back.
AD: Ha, I'm glad that you did! Now, how did you guys meet up, April Wine?
MG: There were four members besides myself, my best friend since 1963, Jim Henman. We have been neighbors and best friends since the 60's. He and his two cousins, David and Richie Henman, had a band. They wanted to create a new band, so they asked me to join. My one condition was, that we only did original music and they agreed. So, the four of us formed a brand new band called April Wine
AD: Very cool, what do you want for us to know about, Long Pants the new solo album, and what else?
MG: Yes, that's it! I have a songwriters solo album that I've worked on for 42 years. It has a song about missing, murdered indigenous women in North America, "Darling Where Are You?" and another song about unmarked graves, "Some of These Children (They Never Grew Up)." There is also a song about my eldest child, Amber, called "Forever Amber." I also wrote a song about kids dealing with diabetes, my son has diabetes and I do, too. It is called "Over the Moon."
AD: Sounds like a great album. I heard you wrote "Forever Amber" very quickly, is that true?
MG: Yeah, I had just gotten home from the hospital at 2am, after she had just been born. So I recorded it on my piano with a cassette recorder nearby. Then recently, I go to record it, 42 years later, and not a note or word did I have to change. I got it right the very first time! My family's been asking me to record that song for years. I always would say that I didn't have a vehicle for it. It's not for a Blues album, or for April Wine. So now, Long Pants comes out on my birthday, June 23rd.
AD: Very meaningful album. I love that you have a lot to say on this solo album. How many songs?
MG: 13 songs. I chose the title Long Pants, because it is about various issues, and there is even a song about assisted suicide called, "I Leave Today." I also did a song about Kim, "Princess Rain." I call the album Long Pants because of these kinds of songs, like how adults have to put on their Long Pants, so to speak.
AD: Are you still involved with Soulful Caring? (a group donating shoes to the homeless population)
MG: For years I did Soulful Caring, but it took up much time. To donate gently worn shoes for homeless people, 5000 pairs a year, but it's a great cause.
Other things going on are, following my two Blues albums, which both did well, I have a third one coming out called, "I Dream in Blue." Lastly, a new April Wine studio album will be coming out. I have to finish writing it.
My philosophy is 'Don't do it unless it is from the heart and for the right reasons. Try to do something special each time you create a new piece.' I don't wanna sing about sexy chicks in tight pants, or preaching like in Long Pants. It will be different, and I've been using my Les Paul, and I turn it to 11. I have written half of the album so far. I think around December or January it should be done.
AD: 11, ha! Well the new April Wine album would be a great Christmas present! I can't wait to hear it!
Please tell me, where were you when you wrote my favorite one, "Just Between You and Me?" Was it a declaration or a breakup?
MG: It was a love song. I was home, and was just writing songs, and that one came quickly, the music and words just came together. I was jamming and then, it made sense and came together. When I say quickly, not like "Forever Amber" in minutes, but just a few days. Songs that come that easily are usually decent songs. The ones that take months or years, I mean, they usually aren't worth it. Some songs you try to fish, you get it on the line, and some just sink away.
AD: Well you've filled the boat with so much music and thank you for that.
MG: This has been fun, thank you.
AD: WE look forward to all of your new music!
MG: Long Pants it comes out on June 23rd! Thanks for this, bye for now.
Abbe Davis, Editor/Musician
Abbe Davis is the lead singer and songwriter of Rock band, Sordid Fable. She has performed alongside legendary Blues artist, Buddy Guy. Abbe and Sordid Fable are currently in the studio recording their EP for release in 2022.