Why I Love John K. Samson
and The Weakerthans
(Enough to Get a Tattoo on my Arm)
by Dowsing’s Erik Hunter Czaja
It must have been 2004 when I was sitting with my high school best friend Tim, staring patiently as he cycled through his Winamp playlist with a pile of what would soon become burnt CD-Rs for our car rides through Suburban New Jersey. I remember the red marker he would use on each CD and the Shadows Fall decal on the side panel of his car’s back right window. I was 16 and constantly looking for new music, and Tim crucially aided my quest at a time when downloading music online was sketchy and scary to me.
In the middle of a queued playlist of Screamo/Emo/Hardcore jargon and such, “A New Name For Everything” by The Weakerthans came on. I remember that it was satisfying and distinctly different from anything we ever listened to at the time. I asked Tim about that song until I got home and took a further look into the band’s catalogue. I found their CDs, read about their concerts and immersed myself in their story, sparking my connection with their music.
I soon tumbled through normal teenage emotions. I found comfort in the lyrics of John K. when I was feeling low. I felt uplifted by his imagery and wordplay in describing everyday objects. I was inspired by his references to “obscure” literary components and to his lifestyle, creating lyrics that could only be penned by a landlocked Canadian.
Because the band toured sporadically and had only a limited catalogue to delve into, I waited eagerly for their next announcement. Any announcement really. With The Weakerthans, patience was key.