Is John K. Samson Canada’s greatest songwriter? While many others could easily compete for this title (one of whichI will touch on tomorrow) Samson’s lyrics over the course of four albums with The Weakerthans, as well as his one solo album, are among the best to ever sit atop rock songs. Period.
The world has changed alot since Samson’s last batch of songs, but lucky for us he is releasing a new solo LP entitled Winter Wheat in late October. “Postdoc Blues” is the first taste of the new record and it’s a beauty. Written partly as a response to Uncle Neil’s 1974 classic On The Beach, the lyrics, as the best John K. Samson lyrics do, make us feel okay about feeling useless, with our eyes glued to numerous screens at a time, all while encouraging us to break out of that safety zone and see the bigger picture.
The end of the song feels especially comforting and it offers pointed directions on how to live a better life: “So take that laminate out of your wallet and read it and recommit yourself to the healing of the world and to the welfare of all creatures upon it, pursue a practice that will strengthen your heart.” Anything you say, John.
The best songwriters manage to acknowledge the darkness in the world while trying to see the light at the end of all the grief and inevitable despair; if they think we can make the world a better place, it’s okay for us to think that too. John K. Samson remains optimistic and politely suggests we do the same. But if you can’t, that’s alright. You’ll get it right tomorrow night.