Great Big Sea – Road Stories

A Newfoundlander in Canada by Alan Doyle

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book by the lead singer of Great Big Sea. I was hoping to get a glimpse into the iconic Canadian band. It would have been nice to see how they grew into the juggernaut that they became. Unfortunately, this book just gives us tales from the road. And while there are some great stories there, I wanted a little bit more.

I loved the part about them having to open up for Barney the Dinosaur. They had no idea that they were supposed to do the early morning show after headlining a festival the night before. Needless to say, the show was a bit of a disaster. Kids waiting for Barney are not the easiest audience to please.

As they came off stage, Doyle bumped into the big man, the one inside the costume, back stage. He hadn’t put on the the dinosaur head yet.

“Well done up there, man,” he said with a bright smile. “The kids can make for a tough crowd. You did better than most in the pre-dinosaur slot. They come for the big purple fella and have a hard time waiting for him. Don’t let it get you down.” 

Doyle did though. He was angry and thought about punching the beloved children’s entertainer. But he walked about without getting prehistoric.

“I closed the trailer door behind me and looked around the old wood-panelled walls with leak marks and rot in the corners. Through the fog I could hear a few hundred fans calling for Barney. That purple dinosaur rocked the place, by the way. And to this day, I swear by two things. One: There is no gig in the world harder than opening for Barney on a wet Sunday morning. And two: For every pat on the back, there’s ten boots in the arse.”

Life on the road has its ups and downs and Great Big Sea has seen their share of both.

Here’s another passage of the book that is interesting.

“Not too long after that I was in a taxi in Toronto when a Great Big Sea song came on the radio, just after a tune by Our Lady Peace and just before a classic from Céline Dion and a percussive track from Susan Aglukark. I turned to the record label rep accompanying me. “One of the biggest radio stations in the country just played, back to back to back to back, an urban rock band, a traditional Celtic group, a French pop diva, and an Inuk singer-songwriter. What a place. I doubt there is another country in the world where that is even remotely possible.”

We need balance like this and I miss the days of radio where not everything sounded the same. I remember it having a variety of genres and styles back in the day. Now we don’t even get that much variety in playlists online. There are great songs we are missing when we have a narrow focus. I bet you didn’t even know I liked this band prior to reading this review.

I wonder if his prior book, mentioned on the cover, gets more into the musical journey and songwriting the band did. If so, I might have to read that one too.

My Yearly Reading Log – coming soon!