Welcome to my blog...

  dennis O'Toole has been writing and performing original songs for decades in various genres and formats while staying active in solo, duo and band work in nightclub and concert venues. Having come up through the rough and tumble world of 'honky-tonk' music, his first recording (supported by a F.A.C.T.O.R. grant) was in 1987 with his C&W dance band 'Bandanna!". 

      Four 'Independent' collections of original material later, O'Toole's music has wound through 'folk-rock' to settle into the 'singer/songwriter 'Canadianna' ( it's 'roots'. but not 'Americanna;, by any means) genre that he describes as ' songs I wrote or wish I had'. The 'wish I had' component includes material from such northern luminaries as David Wiffen, Ian Tamblyn, Willie P. Bennett, Ron Hynes, Cris Cuddy, Michael Behnan and Buzz 'Mr. Soul' Thompson. Whether playing with his talented cousin Michael P. O'Toole on acoustic lead guitar or solo, dennis O'Toole delivers heartfelt, compelling and relevant lyric in powerful performance. 

His latest release 'Lone Gunman at the Assassin's Hotel' attests to the success of said undertaking.

15 comments

  • dennis O'Toole

    dennis O'Toole Peterborough Ontario Canada

    ...once upon a time, weren't things fine... those must have been 'the good old days'... ...before Old Man Time committed crimes on us all in different ways... ... still, there are those that will be remembered... when all of our aprils have been 'decembered'... ...in the time that remains... between 'here' and the 'haze'... this is the bit of verse that is found on the sleeve of the last (latest) recording: "Lone Gunman at the Assassin's Hotel"... released to a warm welcome at 'The SLAB"; the wonderful little performance space behind Phil (and Yvonne) Connors' home in Peterborough (fondly known as 'the 'Patch). This little poem was scrawled on a paper carry sac from a local micro brewery and dubbed 'Publican luggage' towards the end end my drinking days. I was on the way to visit my ailing friend and long time drummer; the late Lee Morgan. Since then, numerous other friends and family have 'crossed over' to the land of endless sleep that awaits us all. As for me; I shall remember them. And I shall sing, while breath is with me. love to all, d.

    ...once upon a time, weren't things fine... those must have been 'the good old days'...
    ...before Old Man Time committed crimes on us all in different ways...
    ... still, there are those that will be remembered... when all of our aprils have been 'decembered'...
    ...in the time that remains... between 'here' and the 'haze'...

    this is the bit of verse that is found on the sleeve of the last (latest) recording: "Lone Gunman at the Assassin's Hotel"... released to a warm welcome at 'The SLAB"; the wonderful little performance space behind Phil (and Yvonne) Connors' home in Peterborough (fondly known as 'the 'Patch). This little poem was scrawled on a paper carry sac from a local micro brewery and dubbed 'Publican luggage' towards the end end my drinking days. I was on the way to visit my ailing friend and long time drummer; the late Lee Morgan. Since then, numerous other friends and family have 'crossed over' to the land of endless sleep that awaits us all. As for me; I shall remember them. And I shall sing, while breath is with me. love to all, d.

  • Lance Loree

    Lance Loree Nanton Alberta

    I'll look forward to checking in here from time to time to see what you come up with next. Just a suggestion.... you can't go wrong with songs about livestock.

    I'll look forward to checking in here from time to time to see what you come up with next. Just a suggestion.... you can't go wrong with songs about livestock.

  • dennis O'Toole

    dennis O'Toole Peterborough Ontario Canada

    ...well, Lance... I seem to recall playing you my song 'Praying for a Chinook Wind' (inspired by the famous Charles M. Russell sketch of the same name, and written when I was as close to a working cowboy (i.e. feeding cattle in all manner of Alberta weather) as I'd ever been; and you took umbrage at the line "You can scarcely hear the cattle lowing, above that cruel south wind blowing..." claiming that 'cows don't 'low'... was it the American classic 'Song of the South' in which the line "You can hear the cattle lowing in the lane...' appears?... probably written by some Tin Pan Alley hack, but just the same... my California cowboy pal Samuel Luther Long was oft heard to opine: "Lay down and beller like a calf..." (...mind you, he was generally referring to women of a particular disposition)... but would that not also constitute 'lowing'? ...hoe all is well (enough) out there at 'Thirsty Acres'... love, d.

    ...well, Lance... I seem to recall playing you my song 'Praying for a Chinook Wind' (inspired by the famous Charles M. Russell sketch of the same name, and written when I was as close to a working cowboy (i.e. feeding cattle in all manner of Alberta weather) as I'd ever been; and you took umbrage at the line "You can scarcely hear the cattle lowing, above that cruel south wind blowing..." claiming that 'cows don't 'low'... was it the American classic 'Song of the South' in which the line "You can hear the cattle lowing in the lane...' appears?... probably written by some Tin Pan Alley hack, but just the same... my California cowboy pal Samuel Luther Long was oft heard to opine: "Lay down and beller like a calf..." (...mind you, he was generally referring to women of a particular disposition)... but would that not also constitute 'lowing'? ...hoe all is well (enough) out there at 'Thirsty Acres'... love, d.

  • dennis O'Toole

    dennis O'Toole Peterborough Ontario Canada

    'bingo'! ... a response from my old cowboy pal Lance Loree, out there on his spread 'Thirsty Acres' in Nanton, Alberta. Lance is cousin to my artist/guitarist pal Rob Loree, who has hailed fro Gananoque Ontario for many years, but informs me that he intends to return to his home province of Alberta this spring. All the more reason for me to revisit 'Wild Rose Country' once more before I kick the proverbial bucket. Lance is also a talented guitarist. Rob is responsible for the original 'Bandanna!' cowboy logo, and hs work can also be seen on a recent release from western musical artists 'Over the Moon'. love to all, d.

    'bingo'! ... a response from my old cowboy pal Lance Loree, out there on his spread 'Thirsty Acres' in Nanton, Alberta. Lance is cousin to my artist/guitarist pal Rob Loree, who has hailed fro Gananoque Ontario for many years, but informs me that he intends to return to his home province of Alberta this spring. All the more reason for me to revisit 'Wild Rose Country' once more before I kick the proverbial bucket. Lance is also a talented guitarist. Rob is responsible for the original 'Bandanna!' cowboy logo, and hs work can also be seen on a recent release from western musical artists 'Over the Moon'. love to all, d.

  • Kathryn Kastner

    Kathryn Kastner Lakefield

    “Old man time commits crimes on all of us”. Very thought provoking line Dennis. Willie P. Bennett’s “Drifting Snow” has a few lines that speak to us all. One of my favourite is: “And all the friends that I have had and misplaced along the way. No amount of energy will ever bring them back. And it weighs on me like a ton and it never was no fun. But I never meant to do no harm.” Thanks Dennis. I hope to enjoy your blog. Sincerely, Kathryn

    “Old man time commits crimes on all of us”. Very thought provoking line Dennis.
    Willie P. Bennett’s “Drifting Snow” has a few lines that speak to us all. One of my favourite is:

    “And all the friends that I have had and misplaced along the way.
    No amount of energy will ever bring them back.
    And it weighs on me like a ton and it never was no fun.
    But I never meant to do no harm.”

    Thanks Dennis. I hope to enjoy your blog.
    Sincerely,
    Kathryn

  • dennis O'Toole

    dennis O'Toole Peterborough Ontario Canada

    well... day two of this 'blog' experiment... a couple of responses... leads me to wonder and ponder the purpose of such an apparently self absorbed undertaking. ...well... having given it some thought, my conclusion is as follows: I want to create a digital archive of music, lyric and poetry that might survive my time on the planet, and perhaps provide a glimpse into the creative process and how that has influenced and directed my journey. I have long been a devotee and practitioner of the writing and performing of songs as an art form, and if only to provide my grand children (and anyone else with passing interest) a glimpse into my soul. And perhaps, as I have often found in the writing of others; a glimpse of introspective recognition. ('Songs I wrote or wished I had', indeed). It is almost twelve years since the loss of my 'one blood son' (Kyle William O'Toole), and that event certainly impressed upon me the fleeting and unpredictable nature of this life we have all been given, and that we all one day will have to relinquish, often with no great amount of forewarning. Perhaps, then; this is a time capsule... a 'message in a bottle' if you will; without the bottle; as I have chosen to live my remaining days. For far too long I laboured under the false impression that somewhere 'beneath the label' of an almost depleted vessel distilled or fermented liquid was a message for me. Well, there was, and I regret that it took so long (and so many attempts) for it to sink in. My 'Black Irish Heart' continues it's distant drumming, the muse continues to visit and grace me with the only thing I ever truly wanted... inspiration. And to quote one of my favourite songwriters, the late Guy Clark: "...the human condition continues as such..." ... love to all, d.

    well... day two of this 'blog' experiment... a couple of responses... leads me to wonder and ponder the purpose of such an apparently self absorbed undertaking. ...well... having given it some thought, my conclusion is as follows: I want to create a digital archive of music, lyric and poetry that might survive my time on the planet, and perhaps provide a glimpse into the creative process and how that has influenced and directed my journey. I have long been a devotee and practitioner of the writing and performing of songs as an art form, and if only to provide my grand children (and anyone else with passing interest) a glimpse into my soul. And perhaps, as I have often found in the writing of others; a glimpse of introspective recognition. ('Songs I wrote or wished I had', indeed).
    It is almost twelve years since the loss of my 'one blood son' (Kyle William O'Toole), and that event certainly impressed upon me the fleeting and unpredictable nature of this life we have all been given, and that we all one day will have to relinquish, often with no great amount of forewarning. Perhaps, then; this is a time capsule... a 'message in a bottle' if you will; without the bottle; as I have chosen to live my remaining days. For far too long I laboured under the false impression that somewhere 'beneath the label' of an almost depleted vessel distilled or fermented liquid was a message for me. Well, there was, and I regret that it took so long (and so many attempts) for it to sink in. My 'Black Irish Heart' continues it's distant drumming, the muse continues to visit and grace me with the only thing I ever truly wanted... inspiration. And to quote one of my favourite songwriters, the late Guy Clark: "...the human condition continues as such..." ... love to all, d.

  • dennis O'Toole

    dennis O'Toole Peterborough Ontario Canada

    ... Satan sneered and said " I've sure got something special for you, brother..." ... he had whisky in one hand, and cocaine in the other... ... I stuttered out the strains of some old sacred song; tried to start a cigarette... ... said: "I don't intend to stay too long with 'friends' I can't trust yet..." ... I called on Jesus, just to jam the airwaves for a while... ... Satan's voice grew softer, broke into a sinful smile... ... said: "Don't go asking favours of Him you chose to refuse... ... it's time to pay the piper, now... you're gonna hear some blues!..." ... I stood whisky-whipped, broken and stripped; of every ounce of human pride... ... I should have seen it comin' when my first woman up and walked away from my side... ... but I wanted my dreams, and now it seems some of them are comin' true... ... I wake up from hellish nightmares, and the 'real world' is just as blue... ( oh, so blue...) ... I cried: "Satan, show some mercy; take that cold hand off my arm... ... I couldn't feel no worse, you can't do me no more harm... ... my fever couldn't grow no higher, were you to heap on the coal... ... I've nothing you desire, now... that woman stole my soul!... ( oh, my soul...) ... so pack up all your whorish trappings, take your business someplace else... ... don't hang around to see what happens; I can take my own pulse... ... I owe the Good Lord a few apologies; it's high time I looked Him up... ... hat in hand, down upon my knees; spare me this bitter cup..." ... Satan laughed at me; and said: "We'll see..." - vanished in a cloud of smoke... ... left me wondering if feeling 'free' was some sort of unholy joke... ... when out of the night, a shaft of light; broke upon me, warm and kind... ... and a voice said: ..."Son... there's no harm done... take your time... and make your own mind..." ...well... the lyric to "An Ounce of Possession; a Pound of Flesh"... a little cryptic apocalyptic ditty from the old days on Vancouver's 'Lower East Side'... playing the dives for the junkies, hookers and pimps... before crack cocaine hit big and heroin (and booze, of course) reigned supreme... leaflets nailed to back alley posts that read: "There is more to life than needles, jails, and pills..." ... the band was called "Stand and Deliver!"; after the old highwayman call... not strictly autobiographical, of course; but you get the drift... yet another instance of making it through dire circumstance with " a clear cut case of more luck than brains..."... (sometimes I think that is the story of my life...)... Christmas in the Blackstone Hotel, where the elevator opened to my floor and a blood red inscription on the wall facing declared: "KKK RULES!"... the irony of being involved with three women whose names all stared with the letter "K" not being entirely lost on yours truly... the setting for the short story that salvaged an English credit at a later college situation: "Fuck Christmas, Carol!"... but that, of course; is 'another story'. This song can (can't?) be found on the 1990 'O'Toole and Friends- Live at Artspace'; which will be 're-released' at some point when my ever so helpful producer pal (and bassist in the 'Assassin's Hotel Orchestra') Andy Pryde gets around to running the original tapes through whatever digital re-mastering gear of the moment. Eventually those songs (and lyrics) will show up on this page. The song came to me the other night like a succubus in the shadows... so I thought I'd 'share'. love to all, d. ...

    ... Satan sneered and said " I've sure got something special for you, brother..."
    ... he had whisky in one hand, and cocaine in the other...
    ... I stuttered out the strains of some old sacred song; tried to start a cigarette...
    ... said: "I don't intend to stay too long with 'friends' I can't trust yet..."

    ... I called on Jesus, just to jam the airwaves for a while...
    ... Satan's voice grew softer, broke into a sinful smile...
    ... said: "Don't go asking favours of Him you chose to refuse...
    ... it's time to pay the piper, now... you're gonna hear some blues!..."

    ... I stood whisky-whipped, broken and stripped; of every ounce of human pride...
    ... I should have seen it comin' when my first woman up and walked away from my side...
    ... but I wanted my dreams, and now it seems some of them are comin' true...
    ... I wake up from hellish nightmares, and the 'real world' is just as blue... ( oh, so blue...)

    ... I cried: "Satan, show some mercy; take that cold hand off my arm...
    ... I couldn't feel no worse, you can't do me no more harm...
    ... my fever couldn't grow no higher, were you to heap on the coal...
    ... I've nothing you desire, now... that woman stole my soul!... ( oh, my soul...)

    ... so pack up all your whorish trappings, take your business someplace else...
    ... don't hang around to see what happens; I can take my own pulse...
    ... I owe the Good Lord a few apologies; it's high time I looked Him up...
    ... hat in hand, down upon my knees; spare me this bitter cup..."

    ... Satan laughed at me; and said: "We'll see..." - vanished in a cloud of smoke...
    ... left me wondering if feeling 'free' was some sort of unholy joke...
    ... when out of the night, a shaft of light; broke upon me, warm and kind...
    ... and a voice said: ..."Son... there's no harm done... take your time... and make your own mind..."

    ...well... the lyric to "An Ounce of Possession; a Pound of Flesh"... a little cryptic apocalyptic ditty from the old days on Vancouver's 'Lower East Side'... playing the dives for the junkies, hookers and pimps... before crack cocaine hit big and heroin (and booze, of course) reigned supreme... leaflets nailed to back alley posts that read: "There is more to life than needles, jails, and pills..." ... the band was called "Stand and Deliver!"; after the old highwayman call... not strictly autobiographical, of course; but you get the drift... yet another instance of making it through dire circumstance with " a clear cut case of more luck than brains..."... (sometimes I think that is the story of my life...)... Christmas in the Blackstone Hotel, where the elevator opened to my floor and a blood red inscription on the wall facing declared: "KKK RULES!"... the irony of being involved with three women whose names all stared with the letter "K" not being entirely lost on yours truly... the setting for the short story that salvaged an English credit at a later college situation: "Fuck Christmas, Carol!"... but that, of course; is 'another story'.
    This song can (can't?) be found on the 1990 'O'Toole and Friends- Live at Artspace'; which will be 're-released' at some point when my ever so helpful producer pal (and bassist in the 'Assassin's Hotel Orchestra') Andy Pryde gets around to running the original tapes through whatever digital re-mastering gear of the moment. Eventually those songs (and lyrics) will show up on this page. The song came to me the other night like a succubus in the shadows... so I thought I'd 'share'. love to all, d.

    ...

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    Bandzoogle Support Chicago, IL

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  • Kathryn Kastner

    Kathryn Kastner Lakefield

    Dear Dennis, Enjoyed the lyrics and look forward to hearing this in song. Your poetry has often resonated with me. There isn’t a “like” button so I thought I would share what I’m thinking. Kathryn

    Dear Dennis,

    Enjoyed the lyrics and look forward to hearing this in song. Your poetry has often resonated with me. There isn’t a “like” button so I thought I would share what I’m thinking.
    Kathryn

  • dennis O'Toole

    dennis O'Toole Peterborough Ontario Canada

    thanks, Kathryn... I've tried to post a couple more, but there seems to be some issue with the 'blog'. love, d.

    thanks, Kathryn... I've tried to post a couple more, but there seems to be some issue with the 'blog'. love, d.

  • Jackie

    Jackie Ontario

    Hi Dennis, just checking the settings on your blog :)

    Hi Dennis, just checking the settings on your blog smile

  • dennis O'Toole

    dennis O'Toole Peterborough Ontario Canada

    we all now women don't just 'disappear'... it's a fact that they're 'out there' somewhere... some sleeping restless, in a shallow grave... a semblance of 'justice' all that's left to crave... mothers, daughters, aunts and sisters, too... what would you do? what would you do?... if they were kin to you? I sense a choir of voices falling on deaf ears.... an oh, so distant drumbeat, a new 'trail of tears'... a highway of heartache cutting through the land... broken promises sifting through empty hands... some lost to 'herstory', but for DNA... tell me, who's looking for them, anyway? what would you do? what would you do?... if they were blood to you? I'll cry on the shoulder of your 'Highway of Tears'... listen for ghost whispers, in my inner hear... we all know women don't just disappear... they haunt the hidden hills and hollows out there... some lost to herstory, but for their DNA... tell me, who's looking for them, anyway? what can we do?.. what can we do?... surely, they\re all our sisters, too this small square of moose hide, that I wear... shows I stand at your side, as a man; I care... I'll sing to break the silence, and as my own prayer... to end the cycle of violence; to women and children everywhere... what can you do? (you ask me) what can you do? well, you could wear one, too. we all know women don't just disappear... it's a fact that they're out there, somewhere... still sleeping restless in their shallow graves... some semblance of justice all that's left to crave... some lost to herstory but for DNA... and just who's looking for them, anyway? now I hear that they're dragging the Red River; looking for kin, looking for clues... smudging cedar, sweetgrass and sage; singing 'the Red River Blues'... (highway of heartache... highway of tears... Red River Blues...)

    we all now women don't just 'disappear'... it's a fact that they're 'out there' somewhere...
    some sleeping restless, in a shallow grave... a semblance of 'justice' all that's left to crave...
    mothers, daughters, aunts and sisters, too... what would you do?
    what would you do?... if they were kin to you?

    I sense a choir of voices falling on deaf ears.... an oh, so distant drumbeat, a new 'trail of tears'...
    a highway of heartache cutting through the land... broken promises sifting through empty hands...
    some lost to 'herstory', but for DNA... tell me, who's looking for them, anyway?
    what would you do? what would you do?... if they were blood to you?

    I'll cry on the shoulder of your 'Highway of Tears'... listen for ghost whispers, in my inner hear...
    we all know women don't just disappear... they haunt the hidden hills and hollows out there...
    some lost to herstory, but for their DNA... tell me, who's looking for them, anyway?
    what can we do?.. what can we do?... surely, they\re all our sisters, too

    this small square of moose hide, that I wear... shows I stand at your side, as a man; I care...
    I'll sing to break the silence, and as my own prayer... to end the cycle of violence;
    to women and children everywhere... what can you do? (you ask me) what can you do?
    well, you could wear one, too.

    we all know women don't just disappear... it's a fact that they're out there, somewhere...
    still sleeping restless in their shallow graves... some semblance of justice all that's left to crave...
    some lost to herstory but for DNA... and just who's looking for them, anyway?
    now I hear that they're dragging the Red River; looking for kin, looking for clues...
    smudging cedar, sweetgrass and sage; singing 'the Red River Blues'...
    (highway of heartache... highway of tears... Red River Blues...)

  • dennis O'Toole

    dennis O'Toole Peterborough Ontario Canada

    ...well... above is the lyric (more or less) to the song 'Red River Blues' that appears below in the 'listening band' (shall we call it that?)... this is not the version from the recording, but rather the arrangement that Sherine Cisco put to the very powerful video she constructed for the song long before cousin Michael P. O'Toole recorded the take that appears on 'Lone Gunman at the Assassin's Hotel' I enjoy the addition of the keyboards, and hope that the video will remain on YouTube for a long time to come. It is of course, Serine's property; and as such subject to her wishes. One might find minor discrepancies in the printed lyric; but I consider songs to be fluid works in progress, and as such are apt to change from recording to performance, day to day. The reference to 'this small square of moosehide' is a tip of the hat to www.moosehidecampaign.ca ; the grassroots organization formed in B.C. some years back yo raise awareness of issues of violence towards women and children; not just in First Nations, but everywhere. One day, (October 04th, 2016?) I came out of PCVS (the artsy high school here in my hometown, where I was employed as a Child and Youth Worker (CYW) to find a demonstration/event transpiring in the park adjacent to the school grounds. First Nations drummers and dancers, speakers and prayers. I was given the small square of moosehide to pin on my old doeskin bush coat, where I wore it for a long time. Now it resides on my favourite guitar strap; a woven wedding sash that my friend Rob Roy gifted me after returning from teaching in the kingdom of Bhutan years ago. I would encourage one and all to check out the www.moosehidecampaign.ca site. I've offered them this song; but have had no real response. I'm just putting the songs 'out there'; what becomes of them beyond that is anyone's guess, I guess. I come from pretty solid Irish stock; and as such, have my own take on 'Colonialism'; but it seems high time (and then some) that we as Canadians, come to terms with the treatment of our indigenous peoples. Our history texts most certainly do not reflect the bloodshed and broken promises; yes, the genocide; upon which this land of ours was built. I'll share a snippet from my tribute to the late, great Willie Dunn ('Willie on the Wind'); activist; playwright, film maker, singer/songwriter and true Canadian: (check his work out, folks!)... "I stood upon the western streets and saw the sorrow of the people's lives... I knew I bore the weight of my forefather's sins... saw the echoes of defeat at the hands of the 'black robes' and 'long knives'... they may be my blood.. they are no longer my kin..." (love to all, d.)

    ...well... above is the lyric (more or less) to the song 'Red River Blues' that appears below in the 'listening band' (shall we call it that?)... this is not the version from the recording, but rather the arrangement that Sherine Cisco put to the very powerful video she constructed for the song long before cousin Michael P. O'Toole recorded the take that appears on 'Lone Gunman at the Assassin's Hotel' I enjoy the addition of the keyboards, and hope that the video will remain on YouTube for a long time to come. It is of course, Serine's property; and as such subject to her wishes. One might find minor discrepancies in the printed lyric; but I consider songs to be fluid works in progress, and as such are apt to change from recording to performance, day to day. The reference to 'this small square of moosehide' is a tip of the hat to www.moosehidecampaign.ca ; the grassroots organization formed in B.C. some years back yo raise awareness of issues of violence towards women and children; not just in First Nations, but everywhere. One day, (October 04th, 2016?) I came out of PCVS (the artsy high school here in my hometown, where I was employed as a Child and Youth Worker (CYW) to find a demonstration/event transpiring in the park adjacent to the school grounds. First Nations drummers and dancers, speakers and prayers. I was given the small square of moosehide to pin on my old doeskin bush coat, where I wore it for a long time. Now it resides on my favourite guitar strap; a woven wedding sash that my friend Rob Roy gifted me after returning from teaching in the kingdom of Bhutan years ago. I would encourage one and all to check out the www.moosehidecampaign.ca site. I've offered them this song; but have had no real response. I'm just putting the songs 'out there'; what becomes of them beyond that is anyone's guess, I guess.
    I come from pretty solid Irish stock; and as such, have my own take on 'Colonialism'; but it seems high time (and then some) that we as Canadians, come to terms with the treatment of our indigenous peoples. Our history texts most certainly do not reflect the bloodshed and broken promises; yes, the genocide; upon which this land of ours was built. I'll share a snippet from my tribute to the late, great Willie Dunn ('Willie on the Wind'); activist; playwright, film maker, singer/songwriter and true Canadian: (check his work out, folks!)...

    "I stood upon the western streets and saw the sorrow of the people's lives...
    I knew I bore the weight of my forefather's sins...
    saw the echoes of defeat at the hands of the 'black robes' and 'long knives'...
    they may be my blood.. they are no longer my kin..." (love to all, d.)

  • dennis O'Toole

    dennis O'Toole Peterborough Ontario Canada

    my people always thought I was old for my age...always dreaming... they took me for strange... I heard your song of Crowfoot; and I shared his tears of rage... I heard the demons scream out on the buffalo range... oh, Willie; what you done to me then... opened my ears and eyes so very wide... oh, Willie... is it gone with the wind? ...why must men always be drawing sides? it seems to me we had our chance to live in harmony... some always succumb to greed when comes the time to share... some would sooner steal than dance... and praise nature's symmetry... oh, Willie...what you done to me then... opened my ears and eyes so very wide... oh, Willie... is it gone with the wind?... why must men always be drawing sides? I stood upon the western streets...saw the sorrow in the people's lives... I knew I bore the weight of my forefather's sins... saw the echoes of defeat at the hands of the 'black robes' and 'long knives'... they may be my blood, they are no longer my kin... oh, Willie... what you done to me then... opened my ears and eyes so very wide... oh, Willie... is it gone with the wind?... why must men always be drawing sides? my people always thought I was old for my age... always dreaming... they took me for strange... when I heard your song of Crowfoot... I shared his tears of rage... I heard the demons scream... out on the buffalo range... oh, Willie... what you done to me then... opened my ears and eyes so very wide... oh, Willie... is it gone with the wind? ... and why must men still be drawing sides? oh, Willie... Willie Dunn, my friend... when you sing Crowfoot and Dan George dance again! ('Willie on the Wind') they keep talking and taking... until there ain't nothin' there...

    my people always thought I was old for my age...always dreaming... they took me for strange...
    I heard your song of Crowfoot; and I shared his tears of rage...
    I heard the demons scream out on the buffalo range...

    oh, Willie; what you done to me then... opened my ears and eyes so very wide...
    oh, Willie... is it gone with the wind? ...why must men always be drawing sides?

    it seems to me we had our chance to live in harmony...
    some always succumb to greed when comes the time to share...
    some would sooner steal than dance... and praise nature's symmetry...

    oh, Willie...what you done to me then... opened my ears and eyes so very wide...
    oh, Willie... is it gone with the wind?... why must men always be drawing sides?

    I stood upon the western streets...saw the sorrow in the people's lives...
    I knew I bore the weight of my forefather's sins...
    saw the echoes of defeat at the hands of the 'black robes' and 'long knives'...
    they may be my blood, they are no longer my kin...

    oh, Willie... what you done to me then... opened my ears and eyes so very wide...
    oh, Willie... is it gone with the wind?... why must men always be drawing sides?

    my people always thought I was old for my age... always dreaming... they took me for strange...
    when I heard your song of Crowfoot... I shared his tears of rage...
    I heard the demons scream... out on the buffalo range...

    oh, Willie... what you done to me then... opened my ears and eyes so very wide...
    oh, Willie... is it gone with the wind? ... and why must men still be drawing sides?
    oh, Willie... Willie Dunn, my friend... when you sing Crowfoot and Dan George dance again!
    ('Willie on the Wind')

    they keep talking and taking... until there ain't nothin' there...

  • dennis O'Toole

    dennis O'Toole Peterborough Ontario Canada

    ...well... I' not sure how the last line of the second verse ended up on the bottom f the page, but there it is, and there it shall remain, I guess. This \blog' thing is very new to me; and I'm learning as I go. My keyboard skills are minimal (even worse on the piano), and I'll try to correct my mistakes before I hit 'share', but there's bound to be errors. This song (above) is the result of an epiphany I had while skipping grade school and watching CBC's 'Take Thirty' programme ( I refuse to spell 'American', by the way) many years ago... maybe grade eight, as we were still in the little war time house on Ross St, in East City; the old B&W TV got one channel only. Paul Soles and Adrienne Clarkson (later to become Governor General) introduced a young firebrand by the name of Willie Dunn; and he sang his 'Ballad of Crowfoot' (made into Canada's first true music video in collaboration with the NFB). It literally tore the top of my head off; and suddenly playing the guitar and singing held possibilities far beyond my limited scope at the time. The song itself took many years t finally come about, and I had tracked Willie Dunn down in Ottawa when I was up that way attending college to learn the farrier's trade (horseshoeing). I don't recall much of that afternoon's visit; other than he was gracious and encouraging. I suppose I sang him a few of my songs, but this one was not yet birthed. Years later I put up sound for he and Willie Thrasher at Trent University's Wenjack Theatre ; a remarkable (if somewhat poorly attended) performance . (both Willie Thrasher and Willie Dunn can be found online) Willie Dunn first brought Charlie ('Chaney) Wenjack's story to the public in song long before Gord Downie lent his talents to the tale. Some time later, (the lyric more or less complete, ) I found Willie Dunn online and asked if he would like to have the as yet unrecorded lyric. He didn't get back to me, and I assumed he chose not to. It was some time after that his widow Liz Moore contacted me to say he had passed, and she was going through his emails, contacting folks he had not gotten back to. Since then , Liz and I have exchanged letters and email, and have had a visit or two when I was in her area. I was pleased to have her respond favourably to not just this song, but others as well. We have become friends, and I value her insight and opinion. I'm never sure how First Nations folks will react to my music or my interest in their issues, but hope that presenting as a sincere ally will stand me in good stead. As mentioned, I'm Irish/Canadian, through and through. But as such, I'm well aware of the historical impact of British Colonialism; the ethos upon which this land was built (stolen). This little song is written from the perspective of that young man, who got more history out of one fellow singing a song than he ever did in school. An 'epiphany', indeed; and the start of a lifelong avocation to try and make 'music that matters', however many wrong turns may have occurred to get to the point I am at today. I can only hope that there remains sufficient time to leave my mark. love to all, d.

    ...well... I' not sure how the last line of the second verse ended up on the bottom f the page, but there it is, and there it shall remain, I guess. This \blog' thing is very new to me; and I'm learning as I go. My keyboard skills are minimal (even worse on the piano), and I'll try to correct my mistakes before I hit 'share', but there's bound to be errors. This song (above) is the result of an epiphany I had while skipping grade school and watching CBC's 'Take Thirty' programme ( I refuse to spell 'American', by the way) many years ago... maybe grade eight, as we were still in the little war time house on Ross St, in East City; the old B&W TV got one channel only. Paul Soles and Adrienne Clarkson (later to become Governor General) introduced a young firebrand by the name of Willie Dunn; and he sang his 'Ballad of Crowfoot' (made into Canada's first true music video in collaboration with the NFB). It literally tore the top of my head off; and suddenly playing the guitar and singing held possibilities far beyond my limited scope at the time. The song itself took many years t finally come about, and I had tracked Willie Dunn down in Ottawa when I was up that way attending college to learn the farrier's trade (horseshoeing). I don't recall much of that afternoon's visit; other than he was gracious and encouraging. I suppose I sang him a few of my songs, but this one was not yet birthed. Years later I put up sound for he and Willie Thrasher at Trent University's Wenjack Theatre ; a remarkable (if somewhat poorly attended) performance . (both Willie Thrasher and Willie Dunn can be found online) Willie Dunn first brought Charlie ('Chaney) Wenjack's story to the public in song long before Gord Downie lent his talents to the tale. Some time later, (the lyric more or less complete, ) I found Willie Dunn online and asked if he would like to have the as yet unrecorded lyric. He didn't get back to me, and I assumed he chose not to. It was some time after that his widow Liz Moore contacted me to say he had passed, and she was going through his emails, contacting folks he had not gotten back to.
    Since then , Liz and I have exchanged letters and email, and have had a visit or two when I was in her area. I was pleased to have her respond favourably to not just this song, but others as well. We have become friends, and I value her insight and opinion. I'm never sure how First Nations folks will react to my music or my interest in their issues, but hope that presenting as a sincere ally will stand me in good stead. As mentioned, I'm Irish/Canadian, through and through. But as such, I'm well aware of the historical impact of British Colonialism; the ethos upon which this land was built (stolen). This little song is written from the perspective of that young man, who got more history out of one fellow singing a song than he ever did in school. An 'epiphany', indeed; and the start of a lifelong avocation to try and make 'music that matters', however many wrong turns may have occurred to get to the point I am at today. I can only hope that there remains sufficient time to leave my mark. love to all, d.

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