Norm and Ben
(1988) liner notes
A LETTER TO BENJAMIN EDWARD CHASE HACKING
As I write this, you are a truly delightful 6 year old boy, about
to turn 7 on Canada Day. Since your arrival here on Planet Earth, you
have been remarkably patient and kind and open and giving with your
mother and I, and the lessons I've learned from you are undoubtedly
reflected in some of the songs I have written for STUBBORN GHOST.
I enclose this note with the album in the hope that should you rediscover
this record in later years, that you would know a bit about some of
the people who made it possible. With luck, of course, we will all still
be together, and the names I now mention may in fact have become wonderful
friends to you also.
Graeme Adams was the first to help us get back into the studio, and
John Hamilton's tremendous support kept us there ‘til the project was
complete. We of course chose Comfort Sound Studios which meant once
again working with my wonderful friend Doug McClement. In the 18 years
that I (and several of musical friends) have been paying for the privilege
of being independent artists in this country, no one has given me greater
support, encouragement and friendship than Doug. It would be impossible
to begin to repay him adequately for his help with NORM HACKING LIVE;
CUT ROSES; and now STUBBORN GHOST. Doug plays bass on several cuts including
Old Things in Love, a special song written for your mother.
There are also songs dedicated to your Grandma, Kathy O.; to your
Great Grandma, Ella, who taught me about Christmas; to a wonderful singer-songwriter
named Steve Goodman; and there is one dedicated to you.
I soon found out it is still a great thrill to work with consumate
artists and professionals, like John Arpin and Kirk Elliott. They're
two of the finest, and their performances on STUBBORN GHOST make this
record very special for me, because they are also very special friends.
Likewise it was great to finally sing with Ron Nigrini. Ron and I
met in university and he was a real influence on me. I remember seeing
him perform in now extinct clubs like The Butcher's Arms. I was just
starting then, and Ron would let me play his old Martin between his
sets, as we sat at a table by the stage drinking draft beer.
STUBBORN GHOST was also my first chance to record with old friends
Dyan Maracle, Jim Layeux, Tim Harrison and Kid Carson as well as newer
friends David Woodhead and John Sheard (who mixed the final album).
It was a welcome chance, again, to work with Matt Zimbel, John Adames,
Paul Corby, Chris Whiteley, and my friend Michael Smith (who is my nominee
as the finest songwriter in the English language).
Lastly, or course, there is Kevin Bell. Kevin came along just in time
to remind me that there is nothing I enjoy more than writing and playing
music. He is my friend, and most treasured musical companion, and with
luck I will have the privilege of working with him for many years to
I hope, Ben, that you do not mind that STUBBORN GHOST does not make
you the son of a wealthy musician. I've always written songs for people,
not "markets", and that makes my work hard to slot in these days of
rigid commercial categorization. I don't mind if you don't.
Of course, by the time you unearth a dusty copy of this album years
from now, there may no longer be appropriate machinery on which to play
a vinyl "record". You and your friends may find yourselves staring mystified
at this oversized black disk, wondering whether the ancients used it
to serve up snacks, or perhaps flung it about in backyard recreational
sport. If need be, try the local museum and perhaps they may let you
give it a spin. I hope you like it.
Webmaster's update: The Stubborn
Ghost LP is out of print, but ten of the twelve tracks are
included on the recently reissued CD Skysongs...
A Writer's Collection. Six of the songs were recorded by other
artists for One Voice: A Tribute to Norm
Hacking, Volume 1, now available.
For more of Norm's prose (all on this site), see the index to Norm's
lyrics, poetry and prose (including "Race
Track Hack" columns and "Looking
for Christmas" feature article) on this website.