Lonely Is as Lonely Does

Today’s post came together a little earlier than usual, as we were disturbed by the phone at 6:40 am for the second time in as many days: one of those fraud calls from a masked number. Oh, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, when will you get your anti-fraud act together?

During a pre-Christmas holiday shopping spree in iTunes on December 23, 2013, I bought the tenth-anniversary album issued by the Canadian independent management company and record label, Arts & Crafts Productions, titled, X. It’s an eclectic collection of indie Canadian music collaborations by various artists from the firm’s roster. There are some brilliant songs on the album. Along with today’s song, other favourites are Snowblink & The Hidden Cameras covering Duran Duran’s “The Chauffeur,” and “Time Can Be Overcome,” by Ra Ra Riot & The Darcys.

I find the song “Lonely Is as Lonely Does” poignant and captivating. Like all the other tracks on X, it’s a union of two musicians or bands. This time, Jason Collett of Broken Social Scene, and Hayden (more on him in a bit). It’s a slow ballad about a musician on tour, describing the loneliness he’s experiencing touring, stuck in hotel rooms and missing his partner. 

There’s very little information available about this song online: it’s not on YouTube, and there are no lyrics services that post the words. Also, it’s a challenge to find anything on Hayden; an internet search returns results on the classical composer, Haydn. I did find with a little more digging that Hayden is a Canadian alternative country/grunge artist born Paul Hayden Desser. Other than what I read today, I know nothing about him and haven’t heard of him since his work on this song. It’s almost like he doesn’t want to be found; his website is called https://www.wasteyourdaysaway.com, and even that doesn’t immediately identify as being his site.

The one bit I could find on the song was this 2013 article on Huffington Post.

As an aside, I was interested to learn that the Canadian band Broken Social Scene operates with as few as six members but up to nineteen. Players have included Torquil Campbell (an actor who appeared in Winnipeg in a Prairie Theatre Exchange play a few years ago and is a lead singer with Stars), Emily Haines and James Shaw of Metric (Please see my post of February 25, 2020 for one of their songs), Amy Millan and many others.

I guess I was really chilling later on during time off at Christmas in 2013 as, frustrated by not finding the song’s lyrics, I listened to it, again and again to transcribe them myself, as I was so obsessed with the song:

“Oh no here I go changing channels
Missing you in every lonely motel room
Blowing smoke out of an inch of open window

Good morning, night 
It was a good night, morning
I didn’t see the light
But I heard the rooster crow and it’s all over now
Time and again

Lonely is as lonely does
But lonely is not what you ought to be

I can see it now nothing’s ever as it seems even so and now
And anyway I woke up from a dream and now I can’t get back to sleep
A wake-up call, maids in the hall, “do not disturb” — I turn over the words and leave
A taxi waits out in the street, for my suitcase to take me away
I’m living the dream

I know I’m only chasing shadows
Missing you, the way back home, and the review
Blowing smoke out of an inch of open window”

(“Lonely Is as Lonely Does,” by Jason Collett, with Hayden)

The song’s instrumentation is sparse but intricately arranged, with studio effects adding to the mood of desolate loneliness. As sad as that sounds, it’s a stunning piece of music. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it played anywhere, and am amazed at that. It’s a terrific song, one of my favourites. I’m drawn to all the lyrics, but one passage in particular is brilliantly done: “Good morning, night / It was a good night, morning / I didn’t see the light…”

Like in the lyrics, I awoke from a dream today… and wasn’t quite asleep when the phone rang this morning. It’s a stretch, but maybe that brought on the memory of this song to me today. But, more likely, it’s having a son and many friends who are or have been touring musicians. I send this post out thinking of all those who have spent or still spend lonely nights in places that aren’t theirs after the venue lights go down and the audience goes home.

Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here. 

Here’s the official audio from the Arts & Crafts SoundCloud page. I hope you enjoy this song — if you do, hit “Like” on SoundCloud, then go buy it: I found the CD/LP for sale on Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, iTunes and Apple Music (if you’re into streaming; it’s not my preference as musicians are paid peanuts for their work). I recommend the album; there’s only one or two songs I don’t like. I couldn’t find the album for sale on the A&C site.

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