Posted by: J.V. | August 6, 2010

Music and Chisasibi

There is music that always reminds me of my first time in Chisasibi. Not necessarily because I really like it but because it played while something was going on here. For example, I was watching TV with my host’s daughter the first time I heard the song Viva Forever by the Spice Girls. Not exactly my style but something funny happened in the video and started a conversation between us, giving my first sense of how people around here need a reason to talk. Idle conversation as in asking a person 20 million questions just to kill the silence isn’t as commonplace as in southern Canada. It was this same person that introduced me to Savage Garden. Now the funny thing there is that I hardly ever heard either of the two songs that I heard with her outside of Chisasibi. Maybe once or twice in the past 12 years. Now, I’ve heard them both within the 4 full days that I’ve been here.

Then, of course, there are Fernando and SOS by ABBA. Fernando played almost every time I visited the now-non existant pool hall and then I had it in my head during the canoe trip up to a friend’s camp during my first stay here in town. And when we went out for long drives around town, he had this ABBA tape that just played over and over in his car.

Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson reminds me of Chisasibi sometimes because it seemed to play a lot at the fitness centre when I walked by (never in . . .*sigh*).

Then there was the anecdote when I wound up in a bootlegger’s van listening to country music . . . and the other one where I got a ride from a sober guy driving drunk people home. Hawaii 5-0 came on and all the kids started trashing around. It was great!

Finally, there is Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. I actually quote this song in my M.A. thesis. I was hanging around with a couple of guys one night and at one point, they expressed their rage at the loss of their land because of “the white man’s actions.” They would keep telling me they weren’t mad at me, just at the whole situation. Then, later, when we were playing pool, this song played and me and one of them were singing along, both loving the song. And, as I discuss in my thesis, it brought me right back to the earlier conversation about what they had and long. “What you had and what you lost.”

Anyway, now that I’m back, I’m making it a point to listen to the community radio a lot so that I can keep abreast of what is going on in town. And I’m finding it interesting to hear what plays on there. During the day, there is a lot of country-sounding music, much of it with Christian content. Things about finding the lord and so on. This is not surprising. But last night, I was tripping out to 80s music ranging from Madonna to John Cougar Melloncamp!

All that to say that music had a big role in my interactions with people the first time I was here. It helped me develop friendly relations with other youth (I was 25 at the time) and it marked many events that were significant to me, either in relation to what I was studying or just my own emotional relationships to the people and place. I suspect that music will have a role to play here again, one way or another.


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