Ode to Randy Bachman

You know that age-old question about who you would invite to a fictional Totally Awesome Dinner Party, living or dead? I’d invite Ken Jennings, Roger Ebert, Carrie Fisher, Joan Fontaine, and Randy Bachman.

Randy Bachman is a Canadian musical legend, one-time songwriter and guitarist for The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. I have to admit I didn’t really know anything about him until I started listening to his radio show on Saturday nights on CBC Radio. He strums along on his guitar, plays old tunes that follow some sort of theme, and tells THE BEST stories about his rock and roll days. He seriously has an endless supply of fascinating anecdotes and would make the best dinner partner ever. I could listen to him talk all day long.

Last night he was appearing downtown, part of a tour to promote his new book of stories from his radio show. He played some snippets of tunes but mostly shared anecdotes about how his most famous songs came to be. I almost didn’t go – I was tired, it was downtown, I didn’t have anyone to go with. But Sir Monkeypants encouraged me and I’m so glad I went – it was hugely entertaining and if I closed my eyes, I could imagine we were at the dinner table. Feel free to chime in, KenJen! Pass the potatoes, Carrie!

The thing about Randy is that he’s a Storyteller, with a capital S. He has oodles of charisma and a story isn’t just the facts – it’s full colour commentary, told with good humour and phenomenal name dropping and inviting you to feel as though you were right there with him. When I came home I tried to share some of his stories with Sir Monkeypants, but my just-the-facts approach just didn’t do it justice.

Sometimes when I’m driving to ladies’ poker on a Saturday night, I can’t even get out of the car because Randy’s show is that good. It’s called Vinyl Tap, and if you live in Canada, have a listen.

Then let me know if you want to be put on the dinner party list.

19 thoughts on “Ode to Randy Bachman

  1. CapnPlanet

    Great post, not least because it was so unexpected. You a fan of Randy Bachman? Who knew? (Joan Fontaine, now that I expected.)

    1. I know! I can’t say I ever really liked his music before. But now that I know all the background dish, I’m totally into it. Next time you’re in Canada you should make it a point to check out his show. I’m not sure if his stories translate to the written word but his new book (called Stories from Vinyl Tap, I think) is worth checking out just in case.

      Remember that time we saw Burton Cummings buying old 45s at a record store in Toronto? I tried to work that into this piece but it wouldn’t fit. But between Burton and Randy, I’m totally IN with the Winnipeg 4 Horsemen (those two plus Neil Young and the Turner guy from BTO).

      1. CapnPlanet

        Wow, I’d forgotten about bumping into Burton Cummings. I also didn’t remember that you were there. What were we all doing in Toronto together?

        As I remember it, he was actually buying some Guess Who rarities. Kind of funny to think that artists sometimes obsess about their own stuff the same way that superfans do.

  2. smothermother

    i would have totally gone with you to that! i only found out about it last night. it sounded like it was amazing! love vinyl tap!

    1. It was amazing! He is apparently coming back for a much longer concert/chat as part of a book tour in a couple of months. If I hear about it I will let you know and we can go and invite him to dinner!

    1. He said he is about to undertake a country-wide promotional tour for the book where he will do concerts/chats/interviews across the nation. So he will probably be somewhere near you, somewhere soon!

  3. Thanks to your great writing abilities and storytelling too, I will start tuning into Randy Bachman’s radio show. Now I will give my awesome hypothetical dinner party some thought…

  4. He *is* an amazing storyteller! Like you, I didn’t really know anything beyond being familiar with some of the bigger hits before Vinyl Tap. Another CBC storyteller (and with a vinyl link to boot) that I’d have at my table is Stuart McLean, that’s a voice I could listen to for hours – although perhaps curled up in front of a big bonfire rather than at the dinner table.

    1. Well, aside from the fact that she is widely traveled, has an Academy Award, and is one half of the most legendary case of sibling rivalry ever (her sister is Olivia de Havilland), she’s also a licensed pilot, champion balloonist, expert horseback rider, prize-winning tuna fisherman, a hole-in-one golfer, Cordon Bleu chef and licensed interior decorator. She’s the ultimate in Getting Stuff Done. She’s my inspiration!

      1. CapnPlanet

        I saw Fame Throwa’s reply and I was going to immediately smack it down with a link to JF’s Wikipedia article, but surprisingly it doesn’t mention any of that, though I know I’ve read it elsewhere. (It does mention that she’s still alive and living as a recluse in Carmel, which is interesting in itself.) I didn’t look into the edits to see if it had just been removed at some point – I can’t imagine there was never anything there about all of that.

        1. I also noticed that there’s no mention of her many talents in the wiki article. Now I’m concerned – is it all internet myth?

          I’ve put a book about Olivia and Joan on reserve at the library so I can check it out, but it seems to be much more about the sisters’ ongoing rivalry than any details of their actual lives. There’s a new book coming out next month along the same vein – focusing on the feud, not on the actual lives of the sisters. Other than that, there doesn’t seem to be any biographies of Joan around – I’ll see what I can find out.

        2. She has an out of print autobiography! It’s called No Bed Of Roses. I just bought it on Amazon for 50 cents. Will report back soon!

          1. Well there you go: another project!

            You can’t be the only one wanting to learn more about this interesting person, so perhaps you should write a biography! Heck, who knows? Maybe she’d even be willing to speak with you. (Some recluses make exceptions, I’m sure.)

            I read “The 4-Hour Work Week”, and it has a part that talks about how to get famous people to talk to you.

  5. smokingtoaster

    I can’t believe you even know who Randy Bachman is. His show sounds fascinating and I’ll try to check it out. I totally remember the Burton Cummings incident (being a big fan of him myself). I saw him coming down the stairs at the record store and thought to myself “That guy looks just like BC, but 50 pounds heavier”. What a voice!

    (Btw, that’s great that you went to check out his tour by yourself.)

    1. I know, I totally earned major street cred there, didn’t I?

      Just don’t ask me who anyone is who started making music after 1995. Its a black hole!

Comments are closed.