“Has he ever written you a love song?” friends sometimes ask when I tell them my husband is a singer/songwriter.
“Yes, several!” is my excited response.
“You’re in all of my songs” is what Michael would explain.
But this song – John Coffey – is made of particularly special magic and meaning. It’s a song with history and reference to a specific time in our lives. It’s the song Michael sings to me when I’m sick or feeling sad. It’s the song he performed on our wedding day and it’s the first song we’re launching for our creative collaborative project. We couldn’t think of a better way to introduce our newest art adventure as a couple. This song is essentially the soul of who we are and what we wish to share with you.
Who is John Coffey? Simply put, he’s the big dude from the movie, “The Green Mile” that sucks all the bad stuff out of people. Played by Michael Clarke Duncan, the character sacrifices himself for the betterment of others. He’s a gentle giant; a healer; a bundle of kindness. From my experience, my husband is my very own John Coffey.
The first house Michael and I lived in was a bungalow on Barrington Street, Halifax. It was simple and small but felt like home and had a beautiful view of the Halifax harbour. We enjoyed watching the boats pass by and the odd sea bird make a dive for food in the questionable waters. This live entertainment lasted just a few weeks before the Irving shipyards hyper-constructed the world’s largest parking garage and maintenance buildings. Just like that, our view of nature was replaced with block-letter-font: “IRVING”.
“We used to stare at the water here but they’re blocking out our view
That concrete wall needs a wrecking ball and a demolition crew.”
During that construction phase, there was a great deal of blasting that happened across the street. Our house already shook on its wobbly, leaking foundation when transport trucks went by, so the blasting was really not all that alarming. What was alarming was the rodent aftermath that resulted from habitat disruption. Every rat that was within a mile radius, disturbed by the Irving shockwaves, ran from the harbour and into our backyard.
I’ll spare you the details of what the management of that rat-party looked like. Safe to say, Michael took care of it. He “John Coffey’d” the shit out of those rats, making my life much easier and less terrifying. The very extensive version of this story was shared on our wedding day before Michael sang the song. Every bride dreams of rat infestation stories being the ones that are shared on their special day (wink) but somehow it seemed to fit!
“I hope you know that I’m there for you, no matter what they put us through…”
These challenges in the early stages of our relationship were indicators that life and love will continue to throw us curve balls. How we accept and overcome them would define the strength of our relationship. Since that day, I have known that no matter what, I have the confidence and trust of partnership – be it against things like illness, heartache, career changes, or even rats – I would never be alone again.
We’ve known for a long time that we wanted to create a project together. It’s a natural fit, as we’ve been subconsciously collaborating on art projects for years. Our *new* house, “Magicland” (sans rodents!) is now outfitted with both a recording studio and a painting studio. Though at opposite ends of the floor plan, we’re often influenced by the other’s creations that are happening just up the hallway. Blips of sound and singing will trickle into my space and aura, often translating to images and movement on my canvasses. Like dandelion puffs drifting into new spaces to plant their seeds, Michael’s music is found in most of my artworks, just as I am found in many of his songs.
For our collaborative project, I will be creating a painting reflective of each one of the songs on Michael’s new album. John Coffey had a particular energy that I wanted to capture. Green light, energy, bold statements, with nuanced lightness and play. I had actually painted another version of John Coffey a few years ago but sadly left it in a cold room and the paint cracked. Maybe there’s some symbolism in there? Don’t leave the things you love out in the cold! None the less, it’s still a piece I adore and despite the imperfections is still perfect to me. I have yoga mats with the original print too! Some are still available and will be offered for sale as part of our “John Coffey month.” Of course, I have a new painting too! One that captures the multitude of emotion that can only be uniquely captured in a love song…
I want to write a song that could hold you if I die
Tell you all the things I used to say when I was alive
Maybe I could build a boat and sail with you to sea
Float free in the water while I whisper pleasantries
These particular lines usually hit me the hardest. An instant well of tears, like a melting popsicle on a hot day. It suggests the timeless nature of our love and the unrelenting effort of showing affection through all of our days together. I feel lucky each day knowing that I have a life partner to share these moments with. Travel, creating, collaborating, rat killing …. We’re in it together.
We wish to share some of these experiences with the world and hope some of the words, images and experiences will resonate in a whimsical way. We promise to bring you authentic and original content, with hopes of offering these backstory highlights. Our first song and painting collaboration piece was launched launched on May 31, with new items and posts throughout the month of June. Please let us know what you think!
You can listen to John Coffey here: http://hyperurl.co/x8x2y6