Montreal based John Cody has released his fourth and final album, ‘Hard Won: The Final Recordings’ today (May 26, 2017). The album is said to tell tales of Cody’s life when it comes to love, fame and mental illness. The album unfortunately comes after Cody being diagnosed with Larynx cancer, but despite doctors telling him it will have to be removed, he didn’t let it thwart his musical plans. The album features many big names including Tom Cochrane, Sharon Stone and Joey Landreth. We had the opportunity to ask John a few questions about this new album.
Firstly, can you introduce yourself to our readers that may not be familiar with your work?
Hey readers! Why so glum? Is someone not taking their vitamins??? I recommend Flintstones chewables! All the hip rock stars take them and the happenin’ youth folk too!! Just Kidding…
My name Is John Cody and I have made four albums of original material since 1993. Zelig Belmondo, Darkness Visible, Painful Righteous Bliss, and Hard Won: The Final Recordings.
My music relies heavily on lyrics and melody and from time to time complex harmonic movement. Sometimes it’s real simple too. Mostly I make it for people to enjoy and to find a reflection of themselves in. I have lived in Hamilton, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, and Los Angeles. My life is a journey and so is my music. Wanna take a ride?
What are some of the inspirations behind ‘Hard Won: The Final Recordings’?
Most of my music is inspired by the personal events of my life and the people in it. There are songs here of resignation and acceptance as well as songs based on what I see going on in the world we live in. I don’t pretend to understand or even have insight into much. I only have ideas about what I see and feel. I have questions. I don’t have answers. There’s a lot about love here too. Having it, not having it, wanting it, not wanting and so on.
Why did you decide to continue with this album after your diagnosis?
For me there was no choice. The choices of life are two, it seems to me; be strong or fold and folding is not an option. Besides that anything other than throwing myself into my work would have resembled something like self-pity. That doesn’t sound very interesting. It’s shallow as a response goes to a dire situation and that’s not brave or anything. It’s rather selfish really. What about my friends? What about all of those people that take solace and comfort in my music over the years? I felt that I owed a great debt to those folks and to my peers and collaborators too. In fact, what occurred to me was to furiously jump back in and complete as much as I could before I was no longer able would be my only recourse in light of my reality health wise. Death be not proud and all of that. Fuck(Screw) all of these illnesses and every inequity and proposed humiliation they demand of me and others too. So, you can see there was no other decision to make.
Can you give your fans a hint of what to expect?
My records are patch works stylistically. I go where the muse takes me, you dig? I like a lot of different music and I’m always in search of African blood, man. It’s often found in the way I finger pick my axes. Ultimately, I go where the songs want to go. The only thing required of me is to do it authentically. Whatever the musical style, I have to bring some acumen and competence to it. If it is not in my possession, I find someone who can facilitate my vision. It’s up to me to distill it though. I probably stretched out more on this record than any of my other ones because ole really allowed me all the creative control I desired. Danno (Dan Marnien, co-producer of Hard Won: The Final Recordings and engineer to Joni Mitchell since 1984) always says; there’s the record you WANT to make and the record you CAN make. This is the record we WANTED to make and Robert Ott was a bit of a visionary for me in that regard. He recognized my storied past and allowed me to pursue what I needed to creatively. He might not have even known that’s what he was doing but it was his stamp of approval that afforded me my artistic freedom on this album.
You’ve written with some big names in music and have big names featured on this album, how has it been working with some of the industry’s finest?
I think the validation has proven invaluable to me. It’s hard to explain what it feels like. These are a lot of people I grew up listening to. Some of the folks on the album are people I have admired for many years and having the chance to finally work together was beyond what I might have imagined. I have been very fortunate over the last several years to be invited in so to speak. It was never awkward either. It all felt natural I suppose because it was. The invitation is the highest compliment in many ways.
Is there anything you hope your fans take away after listening to ‘Hard Won: The Final Recordings’?
I hope that people take away an experience of something that they also recognize themselves in. If people see nothing of themselves in my music, then I haven’t done a very good job, I don’t think. I hope they feel a part of something and assuaged if they’re in pain. Not alone. Connected to each other and to me too. I hope they feel joy as a result of the songs.