Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted on Sep 11, 2014

Two New Songs and The Story Behind The Music

Two New Songs and The Story Behind The Music

Howard Gladstone releases two new songs : “Gridlock City” and “Runaway Train”.  Both are available for free download from his website

“Gridlock City” takes a humorous and satiric look at a big city’s traffic and transit woes, and the political gridlock that can’t find an effective way to deal with it.  It has a fun, 1950’s feel with a nifty horn arrangement.  Take a listen next time you are stuck in traffic.

“Runaway Train” was inspired by the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail disaster.  Beyond the human tragedy, the song points to systemic and individual negligence behind the disaster, as well as the likely potential for further tragedies.  “Runaway Train” is a contribution to the vast canon of train songs.  The songs rocks with a slappin’ bass line and incisive, tasteful electric guitar.

Download WAV. Files

These are large files, about 50 Meg each.




The Story Behind The Recordings

In late February 2014, I scheduled a “test” session at Don Kerr’s Toronto recording studio. I wanted to work with “high resolution”recording (24 bit, 192 kHz sampling rate), which theoretically offers better sound quality to “golden ears” than the sound available from CDs and infinitely better than MP3 and most downloads.

Tony Quarrington played guitar (with an always deft,  melodic, imaginative, and fluid touch) and acted as producer. Last minute arrangements brought in Tony LaViola on stand-up bass.  Kerr jumped in on drums after he hit the red “record” button.

We played live, close to each other in one room,  with minimal partitioning and separation.  It felt and maybe looked like an early Sun Studios session (Sam Phillip’s famed Memphis studio from the 1950’s).  The three tunes were arranged and charted on the spot.  After a run-through or two, we did a couple of takes.   Listening back later, the sound was every bit as clean, open, detailed, nuanced and transparent as I hoped. Perhaps most surprising was that I was happy with my vocal performance and “sound”  – a rare happening.

Seeing all this as a fortuitous sign, we decided to move ahead, but could not find open dates on everybody’s calendar.  We finally settled on late April, after my return from a long-planned trip to Galapagos and Peru.

On April 6 and 7, 2014 I visited Machu Picchu, and climbed the steep steps to the spectacular views from Huayna Picchu.  It was a highlight of a wonderful trip.

Life, however, is full of surprises.  On returning to Canada on April 8, I suddenly experienced severe numbness in both arm.  On April 9, I went to the Emergency Room where I was given an MRI.  On April 10, I had major emergency spinal surgery performed at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

It was shocking and sudden.  After 10 days in hospital I was transferred to Lyndhurst Rehabilitation Centre where I spent 3 months progressing  from almost total paralysis to what the neurosurgeon later termed a “remarkable neurological recovery.”  I thank God everyday, as well as the medical and rehabilitation teams who do such amazing work.  I have a long way to go to full recovery, and  hard work to do.  I have learned lessons in patience and humility and gratitude that I hope to remember.  I will be blogging about this in more detail.

But I’m also a songwriter, and that matters to me.  I wanted to complete and release two of the songs we started at the session.  Since it will be a while until I’m able to perform or record, I wanted to put these songs out there.

Finally on September 10, 2014, Tony Q, Don and I re-convened.  Tony had written a 4-part horn session for one of the songs, “Gridlock City”.  Tom Skublics came and played all 4-parts (alto sax, tenor x 2, baritone) and that was mixed down into our horn section.  On the other tune, “Runaway Train”, it was a straightforward mix of our live performance.

I’m releasing those two songs now.  Both are somewhat topical, but I’m hoping they can pass the test of time, such as Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, and the Kingston Trio’s “MTA.”


“Gridlock City” and “Runaway Train”

Words and music by Howard Gladstone, SOCAN
Howard Gladstone, vocal and acoustic guitar
Tony Quarrington, acoustic and electric guitar, bg vocal
Tony LaViola, stand-up bass
Don Kerr, drums

Tom Skublics, horn “section” on “Gridlock City”
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Don Kerr
Horn arrangement on “Gridlock City” by Tony Quarrington

Share This