Something about tough guys singing sad songs just gets to me.
—Katherena Vermette, author
Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer of poetry and fiction. In her new book North End Love Songs, she sees Winnipeg's North End as a neighbourhood filled with birds, great big elm trees and winding rivers.
It is where a brother's disappearance is trivialized by media and police because he is Aboriginal. It is also where young girls share secrets, cigarettes and stories of love--where a young mother full of doubt and joy watches her small daughters as they play in the park.
The majority of my book takes place around 1991, so the influential music includes a whole lotta R.O.C.K! The North End in the late '80s/early '90s was all about heavy metal head banging. It was the last place on earth you could find a decent mullet and a good pair of bubble gum jeans (sometimes even on the same person).
While writing this book, I listened to a lot of Gunz, Crue and the like. People got worried, but it was my process.
Just listening to the old music put me back in that place. Music does that. I still love heavy metal ballads. Something about tough guys singing sad songs just gets to me.
Here's Katherena Vermette's Playlist:
"18 and Life" by Skid Row
Or you can pick "I Remember You," or if you really need to rock out, "Youth Gone Wild" is always good. In 1990, Skid Row was great. In 1992, not so much. Not only was there the whole hateful, homophobe thing, but there was just a whole lotta better music out there.
"Patience" by G n R
Man, that man could whistle! I can't whistle at all. I sound like I'm dying. So jealous.
Black Album. Yes. Just the look of it makes me feel 15, naive, excited, energetic, inadequate, angry.
"What You Give" by Tesla
Tesla is one of the most underrated bands of the era, but their stuff actually holds up rather well. Plus, they tried so hard to make science cool. Gotta love that!
"Don't Know What You Got ('Til Its Gone)" by Cinderella
Sigh...Cinderella. Also, underrated and pretty awesome, though the only thing they tried to make cool was really bad hair!Katherena Vermette's North End Love Songs launches Wed. Sept. 12 at 7 p.m., McNally Robinson Grant Park.