The first time I heard the Canadian alternative-folk trio, Good Lovelies, was at the Stuart McLean (1948-2017) Vinyl Cafe Christmas tour show at Winnipeg, Canada’s Centennial Concert Hall. They were McLean’s musical guests and sang some beautiful pieces, including a cover of Sara Bareilles’ “Winter Song.”
The show was in November 2013. It became an annual holiday tradition for us to take our kids and their partners as part of their Christmas gifts. We were excitedly looking forward to the 2015 show when we heard that it was cancelled due to McLean’s melanoma diagnosis and treatment. That year we had a family dinner; one of my lads was working out of town at the time though we contacted him on FaceTime, and the other read from a McLean book, doing his best Stuart McLean imitation.
A little over a year later, McLean died from cancer. Our family tradition continued (well… at least until last year, and we’ll get back to it in 2021) with Christmas plays staged by the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre. These have been special, including It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play (in 2018, one of my favourite RMTC performances, ever), though the holiday seasons have just not been the same without our dear Stuart McLean’s show.
Hearing this song always reminds me of the version the Good Lovelies sang as part of that magical evening with McLean’s vibrant storytelling about Dave and the gang at the Vinyl Cafe (also the name of McLean’s radio show) record store. McLean was marvellous at his craft, which he shared through radio, books, CDs and his Christmas tours. Many people (including me) posted messages to the group, urging them to record the song. They released it as part of their Winter’s Calling EP in 2015.
And now that we’re firmly in winter here in the ‘Peg, with the winter solstice last night and a blizzard forecast for this evening, well, it seems about right.
“This is my winter song to you
The storm is coming soon
It rolls in from the sea
My voice, a beacon in the night
My words will be your light
To carry you to me
Is love alive?
Is love alive?
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the video for the song from Good Lovelies’ official YouTube channel: