Jian Ghomeshi may be adored as a Canadian broadcaster, musician and producer, but now the host and co-creator of CBC’s national daily talk program Q can add author to his list of accolades.
Ghomeshi released his autobiography, 1982, this fall and will thrill Victoria fans with a stop at Alix Goolden Performance Hall on Nov. 20 to share his stories. The book chronicles a 14-year-old Ghomeshi’s desire to be David Bowie, much to the confusion and alarm of his Iranian parents. Intent on becoming a New Waver to capture the heart of his ideal (older) woman, Wendy, Ghomeshi’s coming-of-age story also serves as a cultural and musical history of the early ’80s.
“There is a beautiful sense of abandonment you have as an early teenager, where the most important thing in the world is camping out, waiting for heroes to appear . . . music was such a trigger for me and pop culture was a big part of my education,” says Ghomeshi. “One thing I did take from that is I always followed my passion, even when it wasn’t the smart thing to do or what my parents wanted me to do.”
1982 exposes the lengths Ghomeshi would go to in order to watch his musical heroes — like camping out in front of a recording studio in Thornhill every day for three weeks with his best friend, just hoping to hear Rush’s new recording and maybe meet an idol. Yet the book also reflects how that strength of will translated into Ghomeshi’s adult life.
“There is a kind of passion you can have as a teenager, for anything, particularly music,” he says. “As adults, we don’t allow ourselves the same time to explore and really throw ourselves into passions the way we do as kids, and we are prevented by practical realities like ‘I have to go to work or pick up the groceries’ or whatever it is.”
Ghomeshi says, in 1982, he was at a place in his life that could have gone in two possible directions.
“If my parents had their say, this book would have been called, How I Became Successful in Medicine and Engineering,” he says. “But they showed enough latitude for me to really follow what I loved and what I loved was theatre, political science and history in university, and then music, playing in a band, media and broadcasting.”
The book is filled with stories showcasing how deeply music and art impacted Ghomeshi’s life, including his ability to be creative through clothing (and, at times, makeup), and participating in his own theatrical and musical scene — down to becoming a member of the Thornlea School Association, and organizing dance events.
“Arts and theatre education are fundamental and can play an important role in fostering critical thinking,” Ghomeshi says. “It really was in theatre that I learned to question things and have a critical mind — I wasn’t just absorbing, in a top-down way, what the teacher was saying; it was a dialogue.” M