Gordon Pinsent’s latest project makes something out of a lifetime of scribbling, including anecdotes, notes and lines of poetry he gathered over 60 years in the entertainment industry.
The Grand Falls, NL actor has collaborated with two of Canada’s best-known musicians — Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor and Sadies guitarist Travis Good – to create an album that sets his poetry to music.
Down and Out in Upalong – Upalong is a euphemism for Newfoundland – was released this week, and the 81-year-old actor is touring in support of the two-disc set.
Writing poetry satisfies a "romantic thread" in his nature, Pinsent said in an interview with Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC’s Q cultural affairs show.
The poem Easy Ridge was written after the death of his friend, TV character actor Wally Cox. Pinsent recalled hiking with Cox – and another actor who couldn’t keep up, Marlon Brando – in the California hills. Charm recalls his wife, Charmion King, who died in 2007 while many of the works take images from his native province.
Good, and later Keelor, were introduced to Pinsent through Mike Bolland who worked with the actor on the bio-pic Still Rowdy After All These Years,
Good said he was struck by the lyricism of the poetry, which Pinsent could be convinced to read after a drink or two. He and Keelor sat down together with guitars and a few of the poems and by the end of the evening, they had four songs.
On Down and Out in Upalong, Pinsent reads the works with musical accompaniment. But some works, such as Peter Eastern and Upalong are full-fledged songs, making Pinsent, at 81, a budding songwriter.