By Nicole Kobie
"You wake up and you have a dream and you want to go back and finish it, but something woke you up, and you can’t go and pick up the pieces and finish the dream and it drives me nuts," explains Canadian music god Randy Bachman. "Well, this summer I was able to go back and finish the dream."
The dream Bachman speaks of is a reunion tour with his first band, The Guess Who–a dream that began when he was in his twenties, living in Winnipeg’s North end. The tour fulfilled a dream for the former Guess Who and Bachman-Turner-Overdrive musician.
Especially thrilling for Bachman was seeing the fans who grew up with the Guess Who bring their kids and in some cases, grandchildren to the shows. Even the younger generations knew all the words.
"There’d be two or three generations come and wait backstage for us," says Bachman. "It was almost a phenomenon this summer… this is the soundtrack to Canada over the last 30 years. Everyone who went to school, fell in love, broke up, went to high school… some people got engaged to those songs, they played them at football games, they went to war playing some of those songs. It was just incredible the feedback we had from just average Joe Canadian."
The fulfillment of this dream is the topic of Takin’ Care of Business, by John Anderson. This book is the reason Bachman is coming to Calgary for this year’s WordFest.
Anderson, also of Winnipeg, wrote books about the Guess Who and Neil Young. After hearing about two other Bachman bios already in production, the writer called up Bachman and asked to collaborate.
At first, Bachman said no because he’s "in the middle of [his] book; it’s not over yet." But once he heard other authors were writing it third hand, he signed up for the project, hoping to avoid perpetuating the misquotes and misinformation that come with third-hand biographies.
"I kind of worked with him but he did most of the work," says Bachman of the writing process with Anderson. "I just told him the stories."
Even though just over half of the stories Bachman wanted to tell are included, the book is still massive. Every few weeks of his life there’s a story to tell about how songs were written, who called him and about projects he worked on. With such a volume of memories, Bachman hasn’t been able to choose a favourite.
"It’s like a song. I’ve written so many songs, people ask me which is my favourite song but it kind of changes from day to day," explains Bachman. "You know how when you have kids, one day one’s your favourite, the next day they’re not ’cause they’re being ornery or something. It just changes."
One of his kids, Tal Bachman, is not just dad’s favourite but a Canadian radio favourite lately. Currently working on his second album, the younger Bachman is described as directional and positive by his dad. He started playing when he was young and essentially studied all his father’s records.
"I’d buy them any CD they wanted because I figured I don’t care who it is they like… it’s somebody expressing feelings through music and they’ll learn something," says the elder Bachman. "It is, in fact, an education."
Tal was pursuing a formal education but Bachman intervened. When Tal was in school studying philosophy, business law and literature, his father called him constantly to tell him to drop out. Bachman figured his son could make more in music than with a "real" job. And what good is philosophy to a musician?
"When he was studying philosophy he read either Plato or Socrates who said that man’s life… is fulfilled when he finally realizes what God gave him to be his destiny," describes Bachman. "I knew his destiny, he didn’t."
Bachman realized his own future while quite young, beginning formal violin lessons when he was five. Despite selling more records in five years with the Guess Who than the entire Canadian music industry did at the same time, he is still involved in the process today.
"My whole life, since I’ve been a kid, has been playing music in a band," reflects Bachman.