By Mark Clairmont | Apr. 7, 2019
GRAVENHURST — Both Sides is the perfect metaphor for Marc Jordan’s latest CD and concert tour to launch it.
It encapsulates not only the contrasting nine tracks and Jordan’s two act show, but also his life as a song writer and singer.
Saturday night at the Opera House both sides were presented with equal ease.
And an older audience enjoyed him sitting relaxed on a stool in the first half, playing and talking to them as if they were listening to his radio show. Then tossing the stool aside after the intermission he actually used his guitar as more than a good-looking prop on his lap.
His dry wit and deadpan delivery were appreciated, as when he said Bob Dylan was “an amazing songwriter,” but not that great of a singer.
The same could be said of Jordan, whose solo career and international writing credits for top stars speak for themselves.
While his deep, muted, smoky FM voice suits radio to a T, it’s a lot like the wine often he refers to in his patter — it can be an acquired taste. It grows from dark to brilliant through sit-down and stand-up sets.
Not unlike most singers, including the aforementioned Dylan.
But the parallels run deeper with the contrasting songs he wished he had written — along with a couple he co-wrote or penning himself.
He told the Gravenhurst audience, of more than 200, that one of his earliest musical experiences was stealing his brother’s transistor radio, which was an invention of incredible interest to him.
“You didn’t have to plug it in.”
He was five and he took it to school and “buried it.” At recess he and his friend, Michael, dug it up.
And when he turned it on, he heard Patsy Cline sing Willie Nelson’s Crazy.
So began a life of music that led to a pleasant two-and-half hours, including the CD’s signature track.
He called Canada’s Joni Mitchell, who soared to stardom with Both Sides Now, “one of the greatest song writers of the twentieth century.
“No doubt about it.”
He recalled first hearing her sing Both Sides Now, with her sweet young, high-pitched voice “in the Village in Toronto, at the Riverboat.”
The 1969 hit talks about looking at clouds “from both sides now,” her metaphor for life.
And how, said Jordan, it still resonates in her voice that has become husky after a long, well-lived life.
Jordan after the show, he can relate to that.
At 71 he’s still busy writing and performing, but says now he prefers the mature, successful lifestyle he’s built for himself.
Not to say he is resting on his laurels — which he can with his name on 35 million record sales — because he certainly exhibited his own joie de vivre on his return to the stage.
After a little trouble warming up with the Nearness of You, he and his band, led by co-producer and arranger Lou Pomanti, Jordan reverted to his roots, away from the earlier softball delivery, with some uptempo tunes.
While admittedly not a great guitar player, he did look as if he enjoyed playing it – and was a least credible with some riffs.
Not as much as Pomanti on the piano, but he held his own with a good band, that was too loud on bass and drums.
And while Both Sides Now was arguably his best song of the night, and he did a good job on the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses, it was his cover of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side that really stood out for many.
No doubt, because Jordan is a fan of the late singer and super song writer, whose groundbreaking hit tackled taboo topics and proved a contrast to the simplicity of Hoagy Carmichael’s Nearness.
Other standouts on the night included Livin’ In Marino Del Rey, for which Jordan had his own solo hit; and two more of his own songs, I Saw Your Smile (co-written by Pomanti); and Jordan’s When Rita Takes the A Train.
All good songs the Brooklyn-born, Toronto transplant and Lake of Bays cottager wishes he had written and has now sung.
And which were better live than on his Wednesday night (10-11 p.m.) and Saturday night (6-7 p.m.) radio show on CJRT, a station he loves.
A bonus was the auction of one of his paintings, a muted sepia-toned view of a lake with shadowy pine trees, no doubt inspired by the cottage he and his singer/songwriter wife Amy Sky own near Baysville.
The Cartwright family drove the bidding up to $1,500.
Both Sides Now, his 16h album, which was out Friday, April 5, from Linus Entertainment, is available on his website at www.marcjordan.com