The co-front man for one of Canada’s greatest bands, Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, says people are born into economic and social circumstances that either shows a wide horizon before them, or a small horizon – and when it’s small, it’s “suffocating.”
The singer was speaking to The Lindsay Advocate from St. John, New Brunswick, while on tour with the Jim Cuddy band to promote his recent solo album. Blue Rodeo will be performing in Lindsay on March 22 at the Academy Theatre in support of Women’s Resources.
In a wide-ranging discussion of social issues, he says he doesn’t buy the stereotype about low income people being lazy.
“People who are lower income often don’t know doctors and lawyers and other people who could make a difference in their lives. It’s so much about being able to look out your window and see the different possibilities…and when you lack that, it’s suffocating,” Cuddy says.
He recalls when he first started out in the service industry as a waiter, he couldn’t make a decent living.
“Luckily I just met the right people,” to get into the music business and do something different, he says, noting he has family members who come from a wide variety of economic circumstances.
When it comes to basic income and the Ontario pilots being tested in Thunder Bay area, Hamilton/Brant County, and Lindsay, Cuddy says he doesn’t know a lot about the program in detail, but he does believe in sharing the national wealth better.
“I think generally, that prosperity should be shared with those who are in need,” he says, in a country as wealthy as Canada.
“It just makes sense to me,” he says, noting that if basic income brings someone from about $720 a month to about $1,400 per month, “that money is 100 per cent recycled into the local economy.”
“I can’t see how that’s not a good idea. It’s a sane and humane idea, to bring a level of decency into their lives that can only have a positive effect,” Cuddy says.
The Canadian Music Hall of Fame band singer says their concert at Women’s Resources is “important” and “there’s a lot of need out there.”
“We’ve always been associated with women’s shelters in Toronto,” so this Lindsay concert made sense for the band, he says.
The Advocate pointed out that Blue Rodeo has a long tradition of speaking up for social or political causes. Stealin’ All My Dreams excoriated the previous federal Conservative government for a long list of things, much of it connected to environmental and indigenous issues.
Fools Like You, on the Lost Together album, took former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to task for his Meech Lake Accord that didn’t include indigenous input.
When asked how this federal government is doing overall, and in particular for indigenous people, Cuddy says he likes what he sees for the most part.
“I think this government is doing pretty well,” although he says he is “very confused with some of their economic policies.”
“Some of it I don’t agree with, like what they’re trying to do to small businesses,” with Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s small business tax changes.
But Cuddy says he thinks the “sense of urgency” this government is operating under to deal with indigenous issues gives him hope.
He believes the work of the late Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip has helped galvanize the issues, too, and brought more awareness to the Truth and Reconciliation report.
“I think some serious bridges are being built between indigenous Canada and the rest of Canada. It seems to me the prime minister is actually committed to doing something. I’m a believer in this government.”
Touring now to support Constellation, a solo album, Cuddy says he didn’t have a theme in mind when he wrote it, “but one did emerge.”
“And the theme that emerged is that because of my age, I’ve experienced a lot now. The loss of relationships and people, and some of the constancies in my life like love and friendships,” he says.
He says there isn’t “a lot of memory songs” on the album.
“This was more a reflection of a present state of mind.”
Cuddy says he has been given the winter and spring to do his own record.
He adds that Blue Rodeo is definitely going to “slow down” in the coming years.
“We’ll play the summer for sure, but we’re not going at this at breakneck pace anymore.”
Their last album as a band was 2016’s 1,000 Arms.