J.P. Cormier performs in Red Deer Wednesday April 15.

J.P. Cormier performs in Red Deer Wednesday April 15.

Making sense of life through music

Juno-nominated singer/songwriter J.P. Cormier has heard from “hundreds of thousands,” of emotionally scarred soldiers since writing the song Hometown Battlefield about post-traumatic stress disorder. “Some of them told me, ‘I heard your song and decided not to shoot myself.’ That’s huge ... I have to try to be worthy of all that,” said Cormier, who performs on Wednesday, April 15, at Fratters Speakeasy in Red Deer.

Juno-nominated singer/songwriter J.P. Cormier has heard from “hundreds of thousands,” of emotionally scarred soldiers since writing the song Hometown Battlefield about post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Some of them told me, ‘I heard your song and decided not to shoot myself.’ That’s huge … I have to try to be worthy of all that,” said Cormier, who performs on Wednesday, April 15, at Fratters Speakeasy in Red Deer.

The Nova Scotia-based multi-instrumentalist maintains he never had advocacy in mind when he wrote Hometown Battlefield. The lyrics came to him after hearing a radio report about three Canadian soldiers committing suicide in one month.

“It was preying on me,” said Cormier.

The 46-year-old went through his own life-changing experience while entertaining troops in Afghanistan in 2007.

The plane carrying him came under enemy fire while flying over mountains toward the Canada Forces base in Kandahar. Cormier recalled Taliban fighters were also firing rockets and grenades at the base during his performance for the troops.

“You hoped for the best but they were actually shooting things over the walls.”

A military photographer who Cormier had flown in with, Master Corporal Darrell Priede, 30, did not live to board the return flight home. He was killed with six others on May 30, 2007, when a Chinook helicopter was shot down by the Taliban.

Priede’s camera was found among the debris. His digital images were later aired by the CBC, “and the last three pictures were of me,” said Cormier.

“It was not a real pleasant time,” responded the singer when asked how he coped with this experience.

“Suffice it to say I saw a lot of stuff I was not prepared for. .. ”

He wrote the song Afghanistan after his return to Canada, but its poetic lyrics didn’t resonate as strongly with soldiers as those of Hometown Battlefield, a song about not staying silent about PTSD symptoms.

About 20 per cent of the messages Cormier receives about the tune are from Canadian soldiers. But the bulk, by far, he said are from U.S. Vietnam vets. “They got (tossed aside) pretty bad.”

Not only did these veterans have to deal with political fallout from being on the losing side of an unpopular war, they also returned with symptoms no one had any names for. “People thought they were nuts,” said Cormier.

“They went 40 years before anyone had a name for what they had, and before they realized there were people they could talk to about this.”

Although Hometown Battlefield was recorded last year and gained an international following after being posted on his Facebook page, it is included in the singer’s just-released album, The Chance.

The title pays homage to the first song Cormier ever wrote at the age of 13, when his formidable musical talents were recognized and he became a regular on the East Coast TV show Up Home Tonight. “It’s the idea I’ve come full circle,” he said, but also summarizes new songs he’s written about the randomness of life.

For instance, lyrics of The Unfinished Song were taken from a chance encounter that Cormier had with the father of an old flame.

The man had a few regretful things to say to him “about the way things went down,” said Cormier. Although the father wasn’t a poet, the words he chose were so heartfelt and true, the singer practically transcribed them for the song.

So does he think turning life experiences into music is a good way to make sense of things?

“I think art may be the only way to make sense of life,” said Cormier, who played with country music legends Waylon Jennings, Marty Stuart, Earl Scruggs and Bill Monroe while living in Nashville in the early 1990s.

“When you think about it, even people who aren’t artists turn to art, books or music — especially music — to make sense of life,” he added. “We use music as a crutch, or for healing, or as an expression of our own emotions. … We’d be lost without it. People don’t realize how much they (need) music every single day.”

Show time is 8:30 p.m. A $10 entertainment charge will be added to bills if you stay for the show. Phone 403-356-0033 for reservations.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Patrons practice on a putting green as the Whitestone Bridge looms in the distance at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx borough of New York on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. Former President Donald Trump has a rich history of fighting back when he’s down and making others pay, and that’s exactly how he intends to deal with New York City over its plans to fire his company from running the city golf course. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Dump Trump? Kicking him off NYC golf course may not be easy

Trump Organization has been reeling after the Capitol riots

A photo illustration made December 14, 2012 in Montreal shows a computer in chains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Irish health system says it’s targeted in ransomware attack

Health care systems have been a target before

A woman wearing a mask talks on her phone near an exhibition depicting a rover in Mars in Beijing on Friday, May 14, 2021. China says its Mars probe and accompanying rover are to land on the red planet sometime between early Saturday morning and Wednesday Beijing time. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
China Mars rover to land between Saturday and Wednesday

Only the United States has successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Weary Palestinians are somberly marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas and Israel traded more rockets and airstrikes and Jewish-Arab violence raged across Israel. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians flee as Israeli artillery pounds northern Gaza

Israel called up 9,000 reservists as fighting intensifies

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Team Canada’s head coach Troy Ryan talks with players before the start of the of the Rivalry Series at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, February 3, 2020. Ryan of Spryfield, N.S., has been named head coach of Canada’s women’s hockey team for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Troy Ryan to coach Canadian women’s hockey team in 2022 Winter Olympics

Ryan was Canada’s assistant coach from 2016 to 2019

FILE- In this April 19, 2021, file photo, people wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus wait to test for COVID-19 at a hospital in Hyderabad, India. Misinformation about the coronavirus is surging in India as the death toll from COVID-19 rises. Fueled by anguish, distrust and political polarization, the claims are further compounding India’s crisis. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A, File)
Misinformation surges amid India’s COVID-19 calamity

Distrust of Western vaccines and health care also driving misinformation

FILE - In this Friday March 6, 2020, file photo, Britain’s Prince Harry visits the Silverstone Circuit, in Towcester, England. In an episode of the “Armchair Expert” podcast broadcast Thursday, May 13, 2021, Prince Harry compared his royal experience to being on “The Truman Show” and “living in a zoo.” (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Prince Harry thought about quitting royal life in his 20s

Feared his family would have to deal with the same spotlight that was on his late mother

Opinion
Mental health: Gossiping, backbiting and forming factions is unhealthy

We all know of dysfunctional organizations, which can be as troublesome as… Continue reading

Family practice physician Christina Tuomi, D.O., (right) gets Homer's first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from Emergency Department nurse Steve Hughes (left) on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska. Tuomi has been the hospital's medical lead throughout the pandemic. (Photo courtesy Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
Alberta physicians: Vaccines are our path forward

As the AMA representatives for Alberta’s family physicians, we were immensely relieved… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

Most Read