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Carl Newman's Songwriting Genius

A.C. Newman
Sat June 26
Berbati's Pan
10 SW 3rd

Take a listen to any of Carl Newman's bands; from the defunct Zumpano to the New Pornographers to his new solo act, A. C. Newman, there is no question that he runs the show creatively, no matter how many musicians and singers accompany him.

Zumpano's final album, Goin' Through Changes, is a criminally unheard classic pop album, and the New Pornographers, with Newman and Neko Case singing side by side, have been given their fair and highly deserved acclaim from both critics and lovers of eclectic pop. Both of the New Pornographers' records, Mass Romantic and Electric Version, were exuberantly packed with the kind of songwriting that only a person with a great love and knowledge of '60s Brit pop, California's sun-inspired music, Burt Bacharach, and the gift to use them to inform his own compositions, could have created. With a slightly detectable air of pride, Newman says of The Slow Wonder, "Of course with my solo record, I removed the concept of any band whatsoever and did it all myself."

But he owes it all to Canada. "I ended up getting a grant, so I started to work. But all that's actually coming to an end soon," he explains. "The foundation that is giving me the money might be crushed by next year because I think the government is pulling the money out. It sucks and I'm trying to get in there and get as much as possible."

Newman says Canada supports its arts because of the United States; basically, Canada wants its own culture. "I think if not for economic reasons, it makes so much sense that we would watch American TV and read American books and magazines, and watch American movies," he admits, "so I think there's a conscious effort to try to make things that are Canadian or there won't be anything good. If there weren't the 30 percent Canadian content regulations as in radio and TV, I doubt there'd be any Canadian output."

In terms of music, Newman thinks the regulations are the key to success. "There are bands that owe their careers, their lives, to those Canadian content regulations. There are a lot of bands you have never heard in America that are really popular here because of the content law."

Jokingly, he continues, "We've created some of the greats--like Nickelback, Crash Test Dummies, and Barenaked Ladies."

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