Here I am, off topic again…and flogging a horse I thought was deceased. There’s still an occasional suggestion (one just yesterday) that I was unfair with my comments about Justin Beiber a couple of months ago. Apparently I should support him and be proud that the top act in the world right now is Canadian.


First…congratulations Justin and more power to ya kid. Live this for what it’s worth. Seize all the opportunities that this life has brought you and don’t let the naysayers grind you down. But I’m still not a fan.

But for me it isn’t all about Beiber…it’s the current state of the pop music industry.

We’re being served mush pie right now and it must be an acquired taste because I don’t get it. Yes I appreciate that it really isn’t about the music anymore. It’s the show, the image…it’s all about the glitz, the dessert without the dinner. Manufactured stars are a dime a dozen, throw them a synthesizer and a neat little app called autotune and voila! I’m not a Gaga fan either but I did watch a television show a year or so ago that made me realize that this woman does have a lot of talent. She sat at a piano and just sang. It was real and back to basics… no glitz, no glam, no fire-towers…and I enjoyed it. Can you see the Beibs doing the same thing? A ballad (no voice effects) backed by acoustic guitar, real drums, and a piano? Dare to dream! On the other hand maybe he could. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt…he’s earned that much.

There are some pretty great acts out there right now. My favorite is GPN (Grace Potter and the Nocturnals). A younger person asked me if Grace was like Katy Perry. That would be another “Yeah…no.” Grace Potter goes old time without augmentation and all the gimmicks. She’s pure in-your-face rock with one of the greatest true voices I’ve ever heard. She can sing anything from classic standards like “Fly Me to the Moon” to blues and country. I watched her on the CMAs in a duet with Kenny Chesney and…no lip sync! Of course country music thankfully hasn’t embraced supportive technology the way pop has.

I’ve also found myself listening to a lot of indie music lately, not necessarily for the rock but for the pure simplicity of it whether folk, rock, or country. Yes a few of these artists dive into the effect pool but many of them refreshingly offer up the real thing.

Then there was the “You dare compare Justin Beiber to the Beatles!!” response. No, I didn’t compare Beibs to the Beatles. What I said was that the Beatles attracted much the same audience when they burst on the scene but musically they quickly grew and took their audience with them. I would hope that Beiber will do the same thing. If he has the talent both he and his music should mature and evolve to gain a more sophisticated and wider audience base but that’s up to him or, dare I say, his handlers. Speaking of handlers…let’s give these new young male pop stars something to hold onto other than their crotch? Microphone in one hand and…I don’t know…cash in the other?

Simply, Justin Beiber was wrong for Grey Cup. I’d have preferred to see Lightfoot for the whole half-time show…maybe Neil Young, Tom Cochrane, Randy Bachman, Chilliwack, Shania…I don’t know…almost anyone else. It’s still no reason to boo the kid. He’s found his niche (perhaps temporarily) and he’s taking advantage of it. More importantly he handled the Grey Cup fiasco with a certain amount of class and maturity which is more than I can say for those low brows that voiced their opinion so enthusiastically.


I’m not a fan of Justin Beiber and I doubt I’ll ever be. It isn’t that he doesn’t have a certain amount of talent but he is akin to so many of today’s artists that are so technically enhanced it’s hard to dig beneath the effects to discover whatever abilities they might possess. Having said that…the kid didn’t deserve the reception he received at yesterday’s 100th Grey Cup Game in Toronto. I give him due credit…he handled it well.

I’m sure he won’t be appearing at the 156th Annual Grey Cup game when he’s seventy-four although I’m also pretty sure I won’t be there to say “told ya so…”

Gordon Lightfoot is Canadian music. He was there before the Canadian content regulations forced radio stations to play a certain amount of home-grown artists. He drove from town to town, probably hauling a trailer, promoting his music. He was selling records that were pure Canadian. Lightfoot made it work in his country without crossing the border, another thing Beiber has been criticized for. Hey, he went where the money is…and the fame. Most people would do the same.

Don’t boo Justin. They asked him to perform and he said yes. I assume he was honored by the invitation…I’m not sure. Instead we should boo the great minds behind that invitation. I can’t believe the same team of experts who thought (quite rightly) of having Lightfoot open the show also decided that an eighteen-year-old manufactured popper lip-syncing pre-pubescent drivel in front of a rag-tag mix of drunken Canadian football fans was a really good idea.

Okay that was a bit harsh but, as I said, I’m not a fan. The Beiber marketing machine is still in high gear and in his position I’d ride it for as long as I could. I’d also like to think that whoever is guiding this guy would take a page from the Beatles. They captured the teeny-bopper market then grew musically to establish themselves as the single most powerful influence the music business has ever witnessed. As they grew so did their audience.

Is Justin the next John or Paul? Hardly…and I doubt there’s anyone out there who would even entertain that notion in passing let alone seriously. But I do seem to recall watching a television newsman back in the sixties. He came off a clip of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and said, “Just goes to show…hand anyone a guitar and they can be a star these days.”

For Justin Beiber the 100th Annual Grey Cup was a learning experience…for Gordon Lightfoot it was a fitting showcase for a true Canadian icon.