Published Dec 11, 2020Bob Wiseman has been many things in his long career — founding member of Blue Rodeo, solo artist, experimental musician, sideman and teacher among them. In his latest career turn, Bob Wiseman, now author, throws all that life experience on paper, debuting the celebrated pianist's first ever book, Music Lessons.
On its face, Music Lessons is exactly that — advice for musicians from a lifer. Technically, it's a compilation of his blog posts —about 500 of them — culled from more than 5,000 entries. Yet, rather than simply repackaging old ideas, these posts form a portrait of Wiseman that is unlikely to have emerged for those simply reading his website.
Between grumbling about rejected grant applications, slagging his former band, sharing thoughts on music theory, the industry and his young daughter, Wiseman paints the kind of picture that one would expect from a standard memoir or autobiography.
Unhappy with their more commercial direction, Wiseman left Blue Rodeo for a solo career that has seen many twists and turns. He soundtracks film and TV, teaches at York University, tours the world and bemoans the lack of appreciation for improvisational and experimental music, while simultaneously acknowledging what a tough sell that might be for most audiences. Yet, like his music, freed from the structural confines of a straight autobiography, Wiseman is able to showcase his talent and experience as well as the doubts, anxieties and wry wit that were unlikely to come out in any other form. Best of all, he's able to show how each is connected.
Ultimately, Music Lessons achieves what so many books about music hope to achieve but rarely do — it invests you in an artist whose music you might not be that familiar with and gives you a greater appreciation for their creative process. (ECW Press)