Hammering out harmonies

David Francey riding the rails to success

Musician David Francey is at Upstairs Cabaret April 10.

David Francey writes about life’s little moments. From a friend’s wedding to a chance meeting on a plane, the three-time Juno award-winning singer/songwriter finds soulful stories in everyday events.

The 61-year-old began writing poetry as a way to “understand life.”

“When I was a teenager, I started listening to the really great singer/songwriters we’ve produced and I was really inspired by that,” he says. “Rather than just writing the words down I would get a melody in my head and then sing the words. Then over time they came out as songs instead of poems.”

The songs were like journal writing, he says, never intended for public consumption.

“I was a construction worker. I literally wrote every single song for myself. I never had any intention – I never even entertained the thought of anybody else listening to them. Not that I didn’t like them or anything I just thought, ‘that’s nothing I’ll be doing.’”

It was his wife, artist Beth Girdler, who urged him to share his talent.

“I had a stack of songs I never played for a soul. I wrote them for me,” he says. “They helped me sort out my world and the world around me and everything else. They were just part of what I did and I’d feel the compulsion to write but I never felt any compulsion whatsoever to perform them or share them. It was Beth, my wife, that’s insisted on that. She was right.”

Born in Ayrshire, Scotland, Francey immigrated to Canada with his family at age 12 and discovered wanderlust as a teen.

“I always really liked (adventure). I love travel. I hitchhiked across the country umpteen times. The first time I was 16, hopped a freight and all that stuff I read about in John Steinbeck novels and was so taken with. Everybody at school that year was going to ‘hitchhike to Van man,’ so I said, ‘yeah I’m going to go.’ Came back that year and not one of them had gone. I was the only one who’d done it, so that was a good lesson learned. Just keep your mouth shut and do it instead of just talking about it.”

After high school he briefly flirted with post secondary education. “That was just a disaster,” he says with a laugh. “I had no business being there because I didn’t know what I was doing, so I just started lifting heavy objects because I could do that.”

Francey worked in construction until age 45 when he recorded his first album Torn Screen Door which was followed by 2001’s End of Summer, which earned him his first Juno award.

“After I won the Juno I went full time into music,” he says, though if music ever fails him he’s happy to pick up a hammer again.

“I was not an unhappy construction worker. When you’re used to the job, you work at a certain pace, it does leave your mind free to wander off. If you’re roofing, no one’s coming up to bother you when you’re on a plank 40 feet off the ground. You’ve got all the time in the world to think.”

His latest album, released in February, is a collection of songs that he’s written over the years. “I wrote a love song for Beth called Big Texas Moon and had John Showman play fiddle on that,” he says. “There’s a song about the porn industry – that doesn’t get done very often. It’s a song called Blue Girl that came out of an NFB film called Give Me Your Soul. It’s a heavy duty bit of film. I watched that and then just penned the song immediately afterwards.”

The title track, Empty Train, was written in Ashcroft BC. “Those big empty ore trains going up and down the valley there … I just remember them rattling and I remember thinking, ‘man, that’s the emptiest, most lonely sound I’ve ever heard rattling off these hills around me.’”

David Francey is at Upstairs Cabaret April 10.

 

Just Posted

Juxtaposition key to art in The Lines Between at Gage in Oak Bay

The artist will be on hand for the opening reception on Sunday, April 29

FILM REVIEW: Violent vigilanteism helps cast disquieting spell

Robert Moyes offers his take on Joaquin Phoenix and You Were Never Here

Tickets go quickly for Tom Cochrane show at Elements Casino

Multi Juno Award-winner rejoins Red Rider bandmates for grand opening concert

Rockin’ steady with Phonosonics

Victoria roots reggae band looks to attract wider audience with appearance on Rise Up TV show

Sooke man pursues music for a lifetime

Al Pease has been playing music for over 65 years

Shania Twain visits Canadian Armed Forces base in B.C.

Canadian country icon thanks members of CFB Esquimalt for their service

Royal baby: It’s a boy for Kate and William

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to her third child, a boy weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces.

Ballet Victoria soirée fundraiser a prelude to final show of season

Company winds up its 15th season in the city with Peter Pan next month

Dinosaurs taking centre stage at National Geographic event

NatGeo Live series finale May 2 at the Royal features renowned paleontologist

Celebrate Earth Day with guided walks through Beacon Hill Park

Local naturalists explore Garry oak ecosystem on Camas Day

Shania Twain set to visit CFB Esquimalt

Country music star is meeting members of the Canadian Armed Forces

Blue Bridge Theatre kicks off it 10th season with fun Russian farce

Unique spin on Chekov classic promises surprises

Cochrane alters lyrics to honour Humboldt Broncos

Rock singer, performing at the Elements Casino grand reopening May 5, changes up ‘Big League’

Who’s afraid of Friday the 13th?

Is friggatriskaidekaphobia harmless fun, or should we be proceeding with caution today?

Most Read