Interview with My Entertainment World

27 MAY 2017

Exclusive Interview: Singer/Songwriter John Cody

By // Music

Montreal-based singer-songwriter John Cody released his fourth and final album, Hard Won: The Final Recordings on May 26, 2017. To tell the truth, no truth to tell… he laments on “The Devil’s Radio”. When did life become a public address? In a way, this album is John’s form of public address, but with plenty of truth to tell.

Cody’s lyrics are thoughtful and observant, telling stories that touch on love and loss, and fame, and the album boasts an impressive list of guest contributors, including the likes of JUNO Award-nominee Damnhait Doyle, multiple GRAMMY Award-winner Jennifer Warnes, The Landreth Brothers’ Joey Landreth, acclaimed actress Sharon Stone and JUNO Award-winner Tom Cochrane. John is one of those artists whose work writing for and with artists like Keith Urban, Christopher Ward (“Black Velvet”), John Capek (“Rhythm of My Heart”), and co-authoring GRAMMY-winner Bonnie Raitt’s Fundamental and Holly Cole’s Dark, Dear Heart, is more famous than his solo work. But, when it comes to his own music, John has always considered himself a singer first.

That’s why the news he got about a year ago in May 2016 was so devastating. Or potentially, at least. Cody was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx, and was informed that the larynx would have to be removed. With a little support from his friends, including Slaight Music, and some successful crowdfunding, he was able to finish his last album of 13 original songs and three covers before the surgery last summer. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s an upbeat collection of tracks ranging from pop rock to jazzy tunes, with honest, insightful lyrics.

In your music, I hear different styles from melodic 1970s pop-rock to contemporary jazz – I’m wondering what you listen to, and what your influences are/were?

Boy, that is a LONG list. Joni Mitchell asked me that question once over dinner and my response was: Miles Davis, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and you! She said: Good shit, kid! I could add a great many names to that list but, in a nutshell, that’s still the best answer! Those are the key players for sure.

It’s a thoughtful and essentially upbeat album – was that a difficult focus to keep under the circumstances?

The interesting thing is that, despite ill health, I found it essential to revel in my circumstance. In fact, it allowed me to some degree, to gather the best of the many people I’ve worked with over what I refer to as the arc of my career. Which is what you want in the studio. Emotional honesty and high spirits on the part of all the players as well as myself. I was NOT feeling sorry for myself. Sure, it was hard at times and painful because of the physical limitations but, I had a gas making this music with some of my dearest friends and some new ones too. You dig? Ha ha Oh boy. The focus was the songs. It was relatively effortless to keep it although there were SOME musical passages that I forgot and had to relearn for example. A difficult thing to do on the fly when the clock is ticking and time is money I might add.