We were catching up with our longtime friend, Andy Conte, and had to share some exciting news: Andy, who has appeared on many a Joy Apparel T-shirt, is a finalist in a CBC radio song-writing competition! Listeners were challenged by CBC Radio’s All in a Day host Alan Neal to create a song using lyrics from 5 songs that popped up at random on his iPod. They were allowed to choose any line from each song and thread them together as they pleased. The winner will perform on stage at the Writers Festival’s Songwriters Circle (Ottawa) and share the stage with renowned Canadian artists like Measha Brueggergosman, Jim Bryson, Jenn Grant, Soul Jazz Orchestra, and the Acorn.
His song Ain’t No Spring Chicken is bound to be a crowd pleaser – so let’s find out more from Andy:
What is your musical background?
I started playing piano when I was 10 years old – after making out pretty well after 2 years I attempted to memorize Pachelbel’s Canon in D for a recital that didn’t go so well (just like Kevin Arnold in the Wonder Years). After that I dropped piano lessons, and for years, the only instrument I played was a harmonica that my 90 year old neighbour gave to me for cutting his grass.
Music came back into my life in University, where it resonated with me like never before as a form of self-discovery. I studied singer/songwriters Iike Dylan, Cohen, Springsteen and Simon – and taught myself how to play the harmonica, guitar and sing at that same time.
How did you go about writing this song?
I started with the theme of spring on a farm, mainly because we had a huge spring snow storm here in Ottawa last week. The first line I used was about a farmer waking up with the radio softly on, from Springsteen’s ‘Pittsburgh’. This line caught my attention because I usually have the radio on all the time in every room in the house.
I struggled with how to choose from the other 150 lines to fit the story. It wasn’t until I brainstormed with a friend over brunch that I figured out what my protagonist farmer was going to do with the rest of his day. The idea that he gets up every morning to fetch eggs from the hen house led to the line: ain’t no spring chicken. This reminded me of how my aunt complains that my uncle can’t do things around the house the way he used to…and the theme stuck.
If you could say one sentence to convince people to vote for you, what would it be?
People should vote for this song because it’ll get their toes tappin’ and their chops singing. (I’ve been told there’s a good chance the song will also bring them joy because it’ll be stuck in their head for the rest of the day.)
Describe Ain’t No Spring Chicken in three words.
Lower back pain.
What do the words ‘music’ and ‘joy’ make you think of?
How sometimes, music is able to evoke not just joy, but sadness, anger, heartache, and so many other things. And that’s great – otherwise joy wouldn’t feel so good.
Thanks Andy and congrats! Online voting will take place this Friday to Sunday – opening THIS FRIDAY AFTERNOON! Click here to vote for our friend Andy!