Friday Fun Link – Spirit of the West’s John Mann Dancing

I recently wrote about the sad news that Spirit of the West lead singer, John Mann, has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Without being too hyperbolic, I have to say there aren’t many bands that have played as big of a role in my life as Spirit of the West – everything from the many fond (and forgotten!) memories at bars, parties and pubs in University to recording the song I used to soundtrack my first ever promo video for Ryan Meili’s 2009 campaign for the Sask NDP Leadership to the ring tone that plays every time I get a call from my wife – Spirit of the West has provided a soundtrack to many of the best moments of my life.

As soon as I heard the news, I booked tickets to the upcoming show in Regina and last night, Shea and I went to Casino Regina to see them, not sure what to expect.  (And if you want a good indicator that you’re not a 20-something college student anymore, seeing SotW at a Casino instead of in some grungy, dim-lit bar is a good clue!  As is the fact that when they called “Sociable!”, you had a sip of Diet Pepsi instead of beer!) 😉

The first song of the concert (“Canadian Skye”) had a vocal that was a bit rocky and I couldn’t help think “Oh my god.  What if the whole show is like this?” but by the second song, John’s voice was crystal clear, sounding just as it has in concerts and on CD for the over 20 years I’ve been a fan.  Honestly, except for the semi-conspicuous iPad attached to his mic stand and lack of guitar-playing/storytelling, you would not know anything about his medical condition from the performance last night.

I’m not sure what song it was but at one point, early in the show, my eyes welled up with tears – simply from watching him dance, as he always does, with gleeful abandon, and so many thoughts hit me – how we’re all getting older, we’re all dealing with different serious issues – our own health, the health of our loved ones and everything else that life throws at us – and yet, here was a man who’s just past 50, facing a serious medical diagnosis that will make his brain and memories wilt away and yet, he’s still dancing as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

I searched YouTube long and hard for a video that captures the joy of John Mann’s dancing – there’s nothing up from the Regina show yet but I found this one which is a great illustration of what I’m talking about.  (You may have to forward to the 4:04 minute mark if my embed doesn’t work properly)

But then, in researching this post, I also came across this video for a song John recently wrote about his diagnosis.  Although labeled as “Untitled”, I think “The Power to Forget” is a fitting title.

And my eyes welled up with tears again…

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  1. From Head Tale - 2014 End of Year Memes: Union Activist Achievement Unlocked, Spirit of the West Rediscovered, RV Camper Purchased on 30 Nov 2016 at 12:38 pm

    […] 25. What was your greatest musical discovery? Re-discovery.  Spirit of the West by a long shot.   […]

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