“The more I read about Macdonald, the more fascinating he becomes,” says Ford. “And it becomes a vivid truth that without him, Canada would not exist. For all his missteps, misdeeds, misalliances and mischief, our gratitude deservedly flows to Sir John A.”
Mike Ford is writing an 8-song album on the life and times of Sir John for the bicentennial in 2015
Ford, a leading member of the now defunct band Moxy Früvous (along with Jian Ghomeshi) and an occasional member of The Arrogant Worms, currently works in Toronto with middle and high school students and with the Canada Needs You School Tours. He is researching and writing an eight-song work exploring Sir John A.’s life, times and accomplishments to be ready for 2015, the bicentennial year of Macdonald’s birth.
Ford says he is also hoping to create an interactive project with students to build a collection of songs about Confederation and Macdonald in a multitude of languages. Ford has already written one song, recorded in 2005, a ‘garage-rock’ tribute to Macdonald entitled “Sir John A (You’re OK)”.
Ford says he thinks students appreciate Macdonald’s tenacity. “When I talk and sing about Macdonald, I find students appreciate how he was a complicated person, an imperfect leader, but one they enjoy cheering,” he says. “In my concerts after the ‘garage-rock anthem’ students usually pump fists and shout the chorus.”
Ford says with the new songs, he will explore other facets of Macdonald’s life beyond the satirical approach he has used in the past. He plans to take a “more introspective approach, perhaps presented sonically as if at a parlour piano.”
Ford’s album “Canada Needs You” contains the song “Sir John A. (You’re O.K.)” among other tracks about Canada’s history
“Amidst the tales of constitution-making and nation-building, I find that the one image of him I always return to is that of the multi-tasking, afflicted and world-burdened Prime Minister, but one who always made time every day to hold his dear daughter Mary in his arms, regaling her with jokes, games and anecdotes of his day. What a guy!”
Ford thinks the growing interest in Macdonald provides great opportunity to “further slake the curiosity he arouses and for people to see beyond the simple caricatures and celebrity of the man.
“It is remarkable to learn about a man who so improbably twinned daring with patience, experiences of vision and bluster with charm and who used all his traits and talent to seize the larger dream and not rest until Canada was set in motion,” says Ford. “Today, we can look to his substance and look at the challenges he and his colleagues faced.
Incidentally, Ford is not he first musician to honour Sir John A. Macdonald. In Library and Archives Canada, there are many examples of sheet music written with a Sir John A. theme.
There is the “The Premier’s National Policy Galop” (sic) written for piano by A.Koeber and published in 1879 by H.M.Wells of Toronto. Elaborately illustrated it also showed Sirs Samuel Leonard Tilley and Charles Tupper.