David Deacon decries our endless summer of superficiality with his new single and video California Has No Winter — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
We live in a world that increasingly celebrates youth and beauty and doctors reality to taste, all while ignoring the value to be found in people and things with age, history and experience — but Guelph blues and roots singer-songwriter Deacon eschews instant aesthetics with the provocative new single from his album Four.
Soaking in the sunshiny tropes of the Golden State and delivering knowingly dark, spoken verses a la Leonard Cohen, Deacon points a poetic finger at the see-through superficiality of today’s youth culture — and with authority. After five decades of creating poetry, music and visual art, careers as a race car driver, an advertising executive and a businessman and almost losing his life in a terrible motorcycle accident, turning a critical eye on our societal state of affairs is Deacon’s hard-won right.
“California Has No Winter is an observation about the thinness of the veneer of American youth culture, which stresses the beauty of the moment and has so little charity for the long term, the historic, the aging, the difficult,” explains Deacon. “It is my soft, non-belligerent, and very short version of Ginsberg’s Howl.”
While Allen Ginsberg’s magnum opus is a voluminous hallmark of beat poetry, Deacon’s artistic observations are delivered in a tidier, four-and-a-half-minute song that packs a slow-burn punch. Deacon’s softly commanding, world-weary baritone — juxtaposed with an octave-higher female vocal — rises into a crescendo in the outro, insistently asking “without seasons, without signs, how do we know when it’s over?” A very good question we should all ask ourselves from time to time.
“You won’t see the leaves fall, there’s no snow at all
Time is only a clock, no need to take stock
You’re in the summer of life, you’ve got a California wife
California has no winter.”
While it certainly looks perfect on the surface, there’s a dark side to that shiny coin. “It seemed to me that images of nature are perhaps the best possible way to contrast the idea of an eternal summer of life and the consequences of actually living that way both culturally and politically,” notes Deacon.
The third single from Four, California Has No Winter is the album’s smoothly cynical cornerstone. As with all 10 tracks on the album, it was co-written by Deacon and guitarist Andy Ryan. They also co-produced the album, which was recorded by Grammy-nominated, Juno-winning producer Eddie Bullen and mastered by Lacquer Channel’s Noah Mintz. Rounding out Deacon’s musical quartet are Etric Lyons on bass guitar and Aaron Spinks on drums.
An album that marks a re-invigorated return to music making after a long hiatus, Deacon describes Four as “a ride that starts out on a freeway, takes a long stretch down a winding road, makes a few off-road excursions, and ultimately has faith that just keeping on will get you somewhere interesting.” After years of writing, recording, and performing in decades past and detours into periods without music over the years, it’s the creative road ahead that excites Deacon now.
A chronicle of thoughtful and soulful reflections on life paths, relationships, and the state of the world around us, Four is a comprehensive example of Deacon’s two-pronged approach to songwriting. “I think the main starting point about writing songs for me is sorting out whether in my mind the song is a story or whether it’s a poem,” notes Deacon. “For example, the song Poetry is a poem… (while) Hard Time is the story that happened after the poem. They are both about the same woman, the same relationship but they were from different times and different points of view.”
That mastery of perspective is something only an artist with Deacon’s history and experience can gather and turn into the poetry of his latest album. With renewed vigor and creative spirit, the fourth time is the charm for this blues and roots journeyman.