Do you ever do that thing where you are certain that you've written a post and then you go back through your archives and discover you didn't? And then you go to wherever it is that you keep your drafts because if it's not live on your blog it must be in there? And then you find it's not? Well, there's a little nugget of a post that's really more of a thought of a post than an actual post. Yeah, well that is exactly what happened with Jann Arden's Falling Backwards.
The fine people at Random House of Canada sent me this book back when it was cold and wintery, though not all that snowy because we had an odd duck winter in which there was barely any snow. I read the book in February, became convinced that I wrote a blog post about it and went looking for it and low and behold, I hadn't. Oops! I read it! I swear! And then I passed the book to my mother-in-law.
If you are Canadian, you probably need no introduction to Jann Arden. You are probably like me and grew up slow dancing to "Will You Remember Me" at your high school dances. (Ours were in the cafeteria. Mmmm slow dancing while inhaling Eau du French Fries.) You probably did your hair in the mornings singing along to "Could I Be Your Girl" while thinking of that hot guy that later turned out to be a ginormous doofus. (I just watched the video and now I'm having brown lipstick flashbacks. I tell you, I ROCKED the brown lipstick. I miss the '90s) And we all had someone in mind when sang along with "Insensitive" because we were all that girl at some point.
But what you may not have known is that music wasn't a sure fire bet for Jann. In fact, until her high school graduation her own family didn't know that she could play the guitar, let alone that she has been writing songs for years. That was probably the most surprising fact for me in Falling Backwards.
Is there a typical Canadian childhood? There are parts of Jann's childhood that remind me so much of my own at times. Ok, there was none of that whole hanging out with boys that shot animals thing (we didn't really have animals big enough to shoot in PEI) but that running wild, only coming home when it was time for dinner, playing in the woods for hours, doing all kinds of things that would make parents freak the heck out today thing? Totally there.
Jann's childhood wasn't always an easy one. Her father drank and her parents split for awhile. Her older brother was what we'd call today a "troubled youth". Jann doesn't shy away from that and try to paint a false picture of a perfect childhood. Her childhood was plenty messed up, as was many of ours, but what her family did have was love and they supported Jann, even when she had crazy dreams of becoming a music star.
Jann's memoir really isn't a classic "this is how I became a musician" memoir. Music is always there, but it's more a coming of age story. In many ways, it's a uniquely Canadian story. Girl grows up in the prairies, moves to a big city, moves back home, gets discovered and makes you laugh a heck of a lot along the way. In case you didn't know, Jann is damned funny and if you aren't already following Jann on Twitter you must. (If you are not on Twitter I just simply don't understand. Where do you get your news?) She makes me snort-laugh at least once a day, and from someone who was accused of not having a sense of humour on more than one occasion, that's high praise. Jann brings the funny.
But not everything in life is funny and Jann doesn't hold back on those topics. From being date raped, to being punched in the head while busking, to her brother's arrest and subsequent incarceration for murder, Jann doesn't just tell us the happy, funny stories. That's important and so is knowing that she didn't always make the right decisions. She shares what turned her around and put her back on the right path and keeps her grounded. One of those things was a stint as a deckhand on a salmon fishing boat. Who would have expected that Jann Arden was a deckhand before she started putting our heartbreaks to music?
That's what appeals about Jann Arden -- whether you are listening to her music, reading her books, or following her in social media -- you just never know what she's going to say next. That's what makes reading her such a pleasure.
And a bonus for those of us who spend our days in social media: Jann Arden doesn't just get social media, she gets the people that use it. The paperback edition of her book was given a new cover with brand new blurbs from Canadian book bloggers. That, my friends, is truly special.
Disclosure: Book supplied by Random House of Canada but all opinions -- including the love for 1990s brown lipstick -- are my own.