Jean on DNTO

Jean on DNTO

Aired: Saturday, 7/20/96 at about 2-3 PM

Subject: Jean on DNTO [transcript as promised!]
Date: Mon, 22 Jul 1996 14:20:01 -0700
From: Sharilyn (


I'm sure by now y'all have read my somewhat frantic post from yesterday (I can never find a blank tape when I need one) regarding Jean on Definitely Not The Opera (better known as just DNTO). I did promise to transcribe it for everyone, cuz I'm guessing there are about 6 people who actually heard it. But first, a little bit about DNTO...DNTO is a national radio show, originating in Winnipeg. It airs on the CBC, and if you're a true Frufan I don't have to explain that part. If the show name sounds familiar, you've likely been to Bill Bowen's Fruvous Supplement. The guys did an hour-long piece in November whereby they picked and played all their personal fave tunes. To see what they picked, go to

Okay, so here's what was said:

Intro from host, Nora...

Nora: ...and this week, Jean Ghomeshi from Moxy Fruvous tells us about his favorite summer album. He joins me now from Hogtown. Hi, Jean.

Jean: Hi Nora. Live in Hogtown.

Nora: Yep. What's up with the hardest working band in show biz these days?

Jean: Well, the hardest working band in show business is, uh, currently doing a summer tour. We've been in England, and...mostly in England and the United States, and meeting wonderful response. Doing some great festivals; we did WOMAD in London, England and some big folk festivals in the states and having a fun summer.

Nora: Festivals are what summer's all about and we did ask you to come up with your favorite summer album. Any trouble narrowing things down?

Jean: Well, I was going to say, before I got to my favorite summer album, if it had been my 1996 favorite summer album, I would pick the Ben Folds Five, a group that just put out their debut CD. They're from North Carolina, and they are great. So a plug for the Ben Folds Five before I get to my main plug [laughing].

Nora: Okay, well, what is your main plug?

Jean: Well, here it goes. When I was first asked to participate in this segment I was thrilled, Nora, to be given the chance to spin my choice of a disc I love on national radio. And being the unfortunate pragmatist that I am, I thought I would develop a criterion to determine my favorite all-time summer album. Then I realized that I don't really ascribe seasonal identities or delineations to the music that I love. So I realized that I was looking for my favorite all-time album. Period. That I listen to in the summer...and the fall, and the spring, and the winter. And I thought the best criterion was to select an album that I've probably listened to over a thousand times, but that I never, ever, ever, get tired of. And the disc that best fits that description for me is Stevie Wonder's 1976 double album "Songs In The Key Of Life" volumes 1 and 2. I've been a long-time fan of almost all of Stevie Wonder's material, but I chose "Songs In The Key Of Life" because I think it's an album that represents Stevie at his best in writing passionate, personal, and socially conscious lyrics. And the first cut I've picked to play here is a well-known song that I think keeps getting better with time. This is the classic Stevie Wonder piece called "I Wish".

Jean: That was "I Wish" from "Songs In The Key Of Life" by Stevie Wonder. This is Jean from Moxy Fruvous and my all-time favorite summer pick album "Songs In The Key Of Life". I actually do have an embarassing little tale about my first real awakening to Stevie Wonder. Ironically, I didn't really have a clue about "Songs In The Key Of Life" volumes 1 and 2 when it first came out. I mean, I was 9 years old and though I'd probably heard a couple of hits on the radio, I think I remember being transfixed by the fledgeling Andy Gibb phenomenon at the time. It wasn't until five years later, in the summer of 1982 that I first clued in, albeit straying from my British new wave music that dominated my record collection at the time. At the end of my grade 9 year I was selected from my high school vocal choir to sing in a duet at the Summertime Toronto Harbourfront Concert Stage, by far the biggest gig I had ever been involved in. And funnily, the song I was to sing half of and that would lead me to a lifelong love of Stevie Wonder I think in retrospect was argueably Stevie's WORST musical effort, that being the irritable hit song he shared with Paul McCartney called "Ebony and Ivory". And there were some pathetic and comic elements to what transpired at Harbourfront. First, the person selected to sing the duet with me was my friend and schoolmate Kim Richardson, who would of course go on to become another famous member of Toronto's singing Richardson family and win a couple of Juno Awards for her vocals. So here I was on stage with someone who should have been singing both parts and winning the standing ovation she deserved rather than being dragged down by me and my post-pubescent voice. But secondly, Kim is black, and therefore was deemed the appropriate choice for the "Ebony" Stevie Wonder part, by our music teacher. So in the ultimate assimilationist juxtaposition you had me, this little brown Persian kid, singing Paul McCartney's "Ivory" part. And while I resented the quote on quote "ivory" I remember the worst part was that [shouting] I really wanted to sing the Stevie Wonder part! I realized then and I've said ever since that if I could wave a magic wand and be given any one singing voice in the whole world, I would pick Stevie Wonder's. I think what I like best about "Songs In The Key Of Life" 1 and 2 is that it's a one-package testament to the magnitude of Stevie Wonder's musical talent, prolific songwriting, and undeniable influence upon contemporary pop, R & B, soul, rap, and folk music. The 21 songs on this 2-disc album are like a greatest hits package; it amazes me that Stevie wrote all of these songs in such in such a short peroid, after his 1970s classic albums like "Fulfilliingess' First Finale". Musically, "Songs In The Key Of Life" is a masterpiece, and it's a songwriter's dream: infectious melodies, brilliant grooves and jams, sophisticated arrangements, and of course, Stevie's trademark unparalelled vocals. Sonically, much of the album sounds as though it could have been produced in the 1990s rather than 20 years ago. And the songs, almost all of the songs, are truly classics. Whether you think you know this Stevie Wonder album or not, unless you're 6 years old or you've been stuck in an elevator with no music for the last 2 decades, it will sound familiar to you. Not withstanding some of its huge hits like "Sir Duke" or [singing] "Isn't She Lovely" or "I Wish" or "Love Is In Need Of Love Today", you may realize that you recognize this record for tunes that you don't exactly know, but that have so often been copied, emulated, and downright directly lifted by other artists, in the periods since its release. By way of example, if there's anyone who actually believes that there's anything original about the 1995 mega-hit "Gangsta's Paradise" that rocketed Dangerous Mind rapper Coolio to fame, the song becomes noteable as simply an inferior cover version once you've heard Stevie Wonder's original "Pasttime Paradise", which is the second song I want to play from "Songs In The Key Of Life" volumes 1 and 2. For Definitely Not The Opera, I'm Jean Ghomeshi, from Moxy Fruvous.

Sigh, pant pant pant. Y'know how long that took me? ["how long, Sharilyn?"] Almost 2 hours. See, being as dim-witted as I have been lately, I didn't realize when I promised a transcript that this segment would be done by GIVING JEAN A MIC AND LETTING HIM SPEAK UNINTERUPTED! Geez, that boy loves to talk. I can't type no more....



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