Frequently Asked Questions
(more than you ever wished you knew)
Q: Is that really your name?
A: What kind of a dumb@$$ question is that? Who makes these questions up?
Q: You've been playing for over 40 years. Why make a CD now?
A: I guess at least they're not going to accuse me of not being ready. Seriously, because I wrote a bunch of songs that I really like and I'd love to share them.
Q: Why "Satchel"?
A: For a year or two I've been telling my friends I was filling up a satchel with songs, and when it was full of good ones I'd make a CD. It's a fortuitous coincidence that "Satchel" is also the name of that other aging rookie whose story is something of an inspiration to me (Leroy "Satchel" Paige, late great baseball pitcher of the US Negro Leagues from the 1920s, who became a rookie in the major leagues at age 42. Satchel Paige is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.)
Q: So are you a baseball fan?
A: I've enjoyed and studied the game since I was very young; saw Jackie Robinson play on TV and I watched a rare victory by the then-laughable New York Mets in the old Polo Grounds in 1962 or 1963. But I don't think I'm a fanatic about it. It's just a pastime. Baseball stories, on the other hand, can be absolutely compelling.
Q: Are you really Colin Linden's brother?
A: I have been all his life. Comes from having common relatives, and neither he nor I had anything to do with it.
Q: But you're so different musically.
A: That wasn't a question. Next?
Q: Sorry. Why are you so different musically?
A: Because he's a superlative roots based musician who blends elements of blues, R&B, gospel and rock and I'm a folkie?
Q; But really. Are you brothers?
A: No. I'm Leonard Cohen's brother. David Blue was Colin's brother. Enough already.
Q: Will you really walk off the stage if an emcee introduces you as Colin's brother?
A: Probably. Wouldn't you? We're very close. And he's on my very short list of favourite artists, and would be even if we'd never met. But I haven't spent over half a century forging my own way in the world just to be referred to as somebody's brother.
Q: OK then. Tell us about the songs.
A: I started playing music again in 2001 after not playing much for the past 20 years or so. I'd quit smoking, and I guess I needed something to do with my hands. After a while, songs just started coming out. I rarely ever have any idea what I'm writing about until a song is about 3/4 finished. I guess it's a muse that guides me. Once I figure out what it is we're creating, I get to finish and polish it.
Q: What's with all the little things on all the other instruments?
A: When I started playing again, I also started collecting all these weird and not-so-weird instruments, mostly stringed and fretted things. I have some of most of the "usual" stuff, banjos and mandolins and dulcimers and autoharps and such. I also have everything from a cumbus saz to a cuatro, a tres, a bajo sexto, a Spanish laud and a tiple. For a couple of years, before I started writing songs again, I played them almost exclusively and rarely touched my guitar. I still enjoy playing them and thought it'd be fun to throw in a few samples.
Q: The harmonica has neither strings nor frets.
A: Right. And I'd only been playing it for a week or two when I recorded that version of "Wildwood Flower". I'm playing a lot more harp now, and writing a lot with harp and guitar. I'm guessing the next CD will feature it pretty prominently.
Q: Week or two, huh?
A: I thought it'd be fun for a guy in his 50s to buy his first harp, and have it be in the key of C# where a lot of my songs are. The store didn't have one that day, though, so I bought one in B and one in C. I now also own a C# harp.
Q: Bet that drives your cat up the walls!
A: Actually, the cat doesn't seem to mind it very much, and wonder of wonders, she actually enjoys it when I play the banjo, something I cannot say about any human.
Q: Back to the songs. Your songs are unusually literate and poetic.
A: At least they're not inordinately erudite. And I believe I can say that without fear of remuneration.
Q: Aw, c'mon. Don't be glib. They're wonderful, memorable songs.
A: Thanks. Coming from you, I really appreciate that.
Q: Your songs are sort of universal. Not very political. Do you have strong political leanings?
A: Sure. Doesn't everybody in today's world?
Q: What are they?
A: I don't discuss them. At least not here. Suffice to say, I have a strong sense that the health and well-being of people is very important, and I don't like the way most of the world is being run most of the time. Mostly I think we are placed here in this time and space, and our time here is a gift, and our mission is to honour that gift by respecting the time and space while we are here.
Q: Will you run for office?
A: No, but I may race for an appointment.
Q: Are you always such a smart@$$?
A: Actually I'm a wise@$$. But a smart one.
Q: OK then. Tell us a bad joke.
A: Ham sandwich walks into a bar. The bartender says "Sorry, we don't serve food here."
A: Don't blame me. I didn't make it up.
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