Diehard Torontonian Jim Cuddy is standing firmly by his beleaguered metropolis as Toronto is once again named Canada’s most hated city.
Cuddy proclaims he’d never leave TO — “especially now that it’s the object of such ridicule.”
The chuckling singer, best known for fronting the seven-time Juno-Award-winning band Blue Rodeo, referred to a recent study that unsurprisingly showed Toronto was viewed most negatively by residents of Alberta, B.C. and Quebec.
Having toured this country umpteen times, Cuddy is used to fans offering their sympathies when they learn he’s from Hogtown. And he gets the reason for this: “For so long, Toronto was the blind leader of Canada, not paying enough attention or giving enough kudos to the rest of the country . . . like poor Vancouver. It seems no matter what it accomplishes, it never gets better known than Toronto.”
But Cuddy still pays homage to his hometown — warts and all — in one of his latest songs, Skyscraper Soul. It goes, “Looks are deceiving, there’s a heart beating, here in this battered town. . . . ”
“I guess I’m faithful to a flaw,” added the 56-year-old.
Skyscraper Soul is the title-track to his third solo country/rock album, which Cuddy is taking on the road early in the new year. The Jim Cuddy Band will perform on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre.
The singer’s most recent recording session — done during a break from touring with Blue Rodeo — actually began as a soundtrack project.
Last winter, he started writing songs to accompany his wife, Rena Polley’s, comedic short film Four Sisters. “It’s a pretty dark comedy,” said Cuddy, about four siblings who can’t wait to air their grievances after their mother dies.
As it happens, only Cuddy’s bluesy tune Water’s Running High — about a mother’s inability to protect her children — made it onto the film’s closing credits. “I wanted my wife to have a punctuation mark at the end,” he explained.
Cuddy rolled the rest of his new songs into his solo album, including Everyone Watched the Wedding, about Prince William and Kate Middleton’s nuptials last spring.
The London celebration that attracted a staggering two billion global viewers “was the biggest event of all time,” said Cuddy, who was one of those mesmerized by the young couple, particularly their “self-sacrifice.”
He contrasted their fairy-tale wedding with the hard-scrabble lives many other people lead in his song lyrics. “Of course the magic didn’t last. England blew up a few months later,” said Cuddy, referring to the street riots carried out by disaffected youth.
Whether the Royal marriage survives the many challenges the couple will face remains to be seen. Cuddy has witnessed a lot of marriages breaking up in middle age.
His tune With You, is about a man who’s leaving his partner, not out of anger but because he “can’t watch the damage we do.”
“There’s a lot of precedence all around me for that,” said the singer, who debated whether to include this “downer” of a song on the album. A friend convinced him to keep it in because it reflects reality for a lot of people. “All love affairs don’t work out.”
Cuddy feels fortunate to be spending Christmas with his large family, including his wife and their grown-up kids, before heading out on tour in January.
“I have lots of family (and) everybody will be home, praying for snow. It’ll be great. . . . As long as you’re willing to pay their way, all of the kids are willing to come home!”