Welcome to the final installment of our look at Dark Little Ones, the new album by Canadian singer-songwriter Kieran West.

I’m going to tell you what the song means for me, and some of the backstory from my perspective. My son Kieran will have the last word on today’s post.

All the songs on this record have deep meaning and evoke many emotions. For me, the closing track of the album is the one I connect with most, personally. There is so much energy, spirit and passion in it.

“Grenadier” tells the story of Kieran’s grandad, my dad, who served with the British Army in the King’s Own Grenadier Guards from 1939 to 1946. My parents lived away by the time Kieran was born, so his visits with them were seldom. Kieran was only eight when Dad died, though his young age didn’t stop him from speaking at his grandad’s memorial service. (While speaking, which he did beautifully, he became upset, and later when he was ready to come back into the room, the funeral home staff wouldn’t let him. I wish I’d known about that at the time… funerals can be such complicated events to navigate.)

The story opens in Monte Cassino, Italy in 1944, the site of a fierce battle in the Second World War. Dad was 25, the age when most men are enjoying starting out in their lives, not continually faced with dying a violent, horrifying death.

The story then moves on to Dad’s friend, nicknamed “Shaky.” The two were an unlikely pairing as Dad was an infantryman while Shaky was an officer. Of their regiment of 600, only two or three returned from the war. The two men remained friends until death, though they only saw each other once or twice after my parents emigrated to Canada.

Musically, the song is dynamic rock, which one might question as the delivery of a tribute. But, hang on: a dramatic opening snare/bass drum note that sounds like an army drum instantly and brilliantly sets off a march tempo that I believe depicts soldiers marching through a city with bravery and bravado after liberating it from enemy occupation. The heavy bass drum beat sustains this mood throughout the song. All the while, we’re reminded the Grenadiers are in a place none wants to be; in a brutal war, away from family and friends, not knowing if they’ll ever see their loved ones again. The camaraderie is what keeps them going, despite the numbers of their mates continually dwindling from the loss of life in battle.

To me, the lead guitar plays a character in the song: that boisterous, full-of-life member of the battalion who inspired everyone to do better, and who was also the “brat” who had a lot of fun playing pranks and swaggering about; but he was also serious, precise, focused and dependable when the job and his mates required it, and he lamented deeply over each of the many losses they suffered as a regiment that was almost completely wiped out.

“Monte Cassino
Italy, 1944
I’m just 25
I’m fighting in the Second World War
Fighting for the king
I put my life on the line for you and me
I just want to say
This is not where I want to be

Shaky Williams
He was young and brave when going in
Side by side
Things were sure different then
When we were made of hundreds
And now it’s down to just is three
And I just want to say
This is not where I want to be

And it’s hard to be a man
In the world we’re living in
And it’s hard to understand
When world wars begin
And I’m here to do my duty
I’m here to serve the call
And I’m fighting for my country
I’m gonna do it all

I hope you’re proud
I hope you’re looking down on me
With all your love
It gives me something to believe
Hope you feel whole
I hope you feel free
I just want to say
I hope you’re where you want to be”

Kieran West: lead vocal and rhythm guitar
Matt Filopoulos: bass guitar
Dan Bertnick: drums
Micah Erenberg (The Secret Beach): lead guitar, backing vocal.

In the last verse, as the final cymbal from the chorus decays in an ethereal way (this happens a few times on the album in key places), a single, subtle guitar accompanies Kieran as he shifts from the past to now, singing to his grandad’s spirit in a very touching way, “I hope you’re proud / I hope you’re looking down on me / With all your love / It gives me something to believe / Hope you feel whole / I hope you feel free / I just want to say / I hope you’re where you want to be” and the band goes into a two-minute jam outro. Many emotions surface in this farewell section: grief, loss, gratitude, and pride. Kieran and the band members live in a peaceful country, partly because of sacrifices by those who came before them. They know they are fortunate not to be in any of a number of countries battered by war, and, in this song, they pay homage to Dad, Shaky, and all the faceless millions who served or witnessed, survived or perished.

Each time I listen to the song, I keep wanting the end jam/outro to last longer; it’s a bit like the memory of seeing my dad on his deathbed and knowing he could not survive, but wishing his song wouldn’t end yet.

And in the same way as the first track, “Staying Home,” is a great show starter, “Grenadier” would make a terrific closer, as I can picture the band extending the jam the way groups often do at the end of a show, holding the melody and taking a break to introduce the band, thank the audience, all that kind of farewell stuff, then returning to a blazing, heartfelt finish.

I first heard this song played by a full band in a demo recording that Kieran gave me to distribute to our family a few years ago on the day my dad would have turned 100.

“Grenadier” is a powerful tribute from a loving grandson who had both his grandfathers taken from him by death when he was very young. It’s a song my dad would proudly savour hearing Kieran and the band playing. And I can picture Dad, as Kieran writes, looking down on him with all his love.

What a bold, honouring and unforgettable way to end an absolutely superb album; it is a life-affirming statement. I will be enjoying this album for a long time, and I can’t wait to hear what comes next from this gifted musician.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining us on this nine-day journey.

Now, here’s Kieran to close out his album and this series of posts:

“Grenadier. The big finisher. This song is about my paternal grandfather, Ernest Edward Rodney West. I have many memories of spending time on the phone with my grandparents who lived in Calgary. I had a strong connection with both of them, but unfortunately my grandfather passed away in 2001. I didn’t understand the concept of death then, and I remember conceiving these elaborate plans about how he was just in hiding and would somehow reappear one day. Then came the day of his funeral. It was an open casket. I still wasn’t able to fully grasp what was going on, but in a way I knew this would be the final time I saw his face. My dad, the orator that he is, was already speaking, and I asked to speak as well. I only managed to squeak out a few words before I broke down crying and had to leave the room.

“I went back to enter and say my last goodbye, but I was told that I wouldn’t be allowed back in.

“I was distraught by this, but I was comforted by my cousin Katherine. Katherine is my age and had just recently moved back to Winnipeg from Cleveland. She is one of my best friends in the world, and I believe our connection really began then. Katherine has been there for me throughout all of the ups and downs of my life. It’s truly amazing to have a family member who you feel so connected with, and that you feel you can fully rely on, no matter what.

“So with this we reach the end of the album. And a story which contains an ending. But for me, it also contains a beginning. A reminder that life is a series of cycles. Just like the ones I wrote about on this album. We will continue to live our lives, through self doubt, love, grief, hockey, hardship, adolescence, and perhaps even war. but we will always come to the end, which will also be some kind of a beginning. Those who have happened to listen to the album on repeat will know that the last note of Grenadier is resolved by the first note of Staying Home, so in a way the album depicts that quite nicely. The cycle of life is full of twists and turns, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to share my experience of it with you.”


Dad/Grandad in his Guards’ uniform, c1944.
Click to play “Grenadier” on the Kieran West YouTube topic channel.

PS: I hope that now we’ve finished the album, you’ll buy it for your digital collection or stream it often to support this incredible artist and young man.

With best wishes,


9 thoughts on “Grenadier

  1. I have really enjoyed this album, and your last nine posts. I am now looking forward to streaming the full album all at once, which I plan to do tomorrow. Thank you for sharing this. And thank you Kieran for this great music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for coming along on the journey, Stephen. I’m so pleased you’ve enjoyed it. I’ll make sure Kieran sees your kind words. Enjoy the album! Next time I play it I’ll be listening for that last note/first note thing he mentioned.


      1. I streamed the full album this morning and really enjoyed it. I let it loop so I could listen for the last note/first note thing. It would take a better tuned ear than mine to pick it up but knowing that it was coming I could hear it, then I let the whole album play again.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi, Stephen and thank you for reporting back about your full listen of the album! I’m so happy to hear you listened for the last/first note bit. I really appreciate your support, as does Kieran. Have a wonderful day.


  2. Really beautiful tribute to his grandfather and the life he lived. I will most certainly be streaming this album since I enjoyed so many of the songs you shared here. Kieran is very talented and I wish him the best on his musical journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bill, thanks so much for your support. I am glad you enjoyed this. And thank you for buying the album to support Kieran’s music. Blessings to you.


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