Every musician dreams of writing a song that will last forever.
Campbell River musician Rick Benn, however, has written and recorded one he hopes won’t be relevant after this Friday.
Benn is a long-time local musician who works part-time throughout the year at the local casino. Earlier this year, both of his jobs went away.
Most years he’d have taken time off from the casino in the summer to go touring with his music, and then head back to work for a while before he had to start booking gigs for the holiday season.
“This year I’ve been off since March,” he says, “which is an awfully long time for me to not be working, and when I saw COVID creeping up on Christmas I knew I had to write something.”
It came about kind of organically, he says, though not in the way most of his songs happen.
“I don’t usually purposely sit down to write a song,” he says. “They usually just pop into my head, and this one I actually had to work through with little bits of inspiration from here and there. It actually took a while this time,” he says with a chuckle.
“Does COVID know it’s Christmas?” was the result of his work.
“It’s sort of a rhetorical question,” he says. “Like, the nerve of it to interrupt what’s supposed to be a time of happiness with everybody getting together and kicking back, not working for a few days, forgetting about our life and just having some fun. We’re not exactly able to do that this year.”
It’s not what anyone would call a “happy song,” but it’s certainly honest.
“So many people have commented and private messaged me that they were crying when they listened to it,” he says. “I guess that’s what you want as a musician: to evoke emotion of some kind.”
But while it’s not a Christmas song that is full of joy and merriment, it’s also not bereft of hope.
“I mean, there’s the line where I say that I hope the carollers are going to still sing even though the doors are going to be closed to them,” he says, “and that’s really me saying that people can still have fun with their loved ones even though it’s not going to be the same.”
But that’s as bright as it gets. That’s another departure from his usual writing style.
“I don’t think I’ve ever written a song that wasn’t at least half-way happy,” he says. “I mean, I’ve written songs about lost love and that kind of stuff, like anybody else, but I’ve never written a song this dark. I mean, maybe it’s not dark, necessarily, but it’s certainly not bright, either.
“It’s a message for people to just hold on,” he continues. “We’ll get through this. It’s not a happy song, and I kind of apologized when I put it out there for people, but everyone seemed to appreciate its honesty.”
And he hopes people won’t have to appreciate its honesty for much longer, which is kind of a strange thing for a musician to say.
“It’s really weird to purposely write a song that you hope will go away,” he says. “Normally that’s the exact opposite of what you want to do. But hopefully this one is only going to be relevant for another three or four days and we’ll never hear it again.”