Robin Hood’s Bay
Written after performing in this beautiful seaside town in Yorkshire, England, it’s a wish for finding the same peace and contentment in everyday life that you can find there.
That Old Cedar Strip
Allan Shaw, president of James’ American record label Folk Era, has a beautiful red cedar strip canoe from the Eaton’s Catalogue c. 1955 in his garage near Chicago. James wrote this song about it after wondering how many other symbols of nature and freedom are strapped to suburban garage ceilings all across North America.
If You Hear the River Call
This ballad about being drawn to the water is the only song James ever wrote that does not rhyme!
Recorded on “prepared piano,” this personifies James’ lifetime of insomnia as a temptress in the night.
Jumbo’s Last Ride
Jumbo the Elephant was killed by a train in St. Thomas, Ontario. Some say it was planned by P.T. Barnum because the old pacadyrm was getting too old and cranky…some say Jumbo committed suicide because he was tired of being on the road, and some say he was saving his young elephant friend Tom Thumb.
Far From Our Sheiling
Written by the founder of Guelph, John Galt, and adapted by James. It talks of the loneliness of the first Scots settlers who arrived in the Guelph area after being evicted in the Highland Clearances.
Did you Already Know
A song about a young person dealing with the onset of a mental illness by running away from it.
Lamas On The Road
James went to hear the Tibetan Lamas when they came through town on tour. It was quite a cultural shock for them to be in a tour bus far from the peace of their monastery. This song speculates about what that road trip might have been like!
The Uneeda Rest — lyrics
A wartime love song set at an old resort hotel on Sparrow Lake in Ontario.
Too Canadian These Days
“Kind of empty in the middle, far away as Hudson Bay — you know I’m feeling just a little too Canadian these days.”
James did a regular feature on CBC radio’s Ontario Morning programme called “Hometown Tunes,” where people would write in with stories from their home towns that they thought might be songworthy. James wrote over fifty songs for the series, and this was one of the favourites from the community of Hamilton Beach just outside hamilton Ontario…mostly lost when the Burlington Skyway was constructed.
Isn’t It Time To Go Home
About a tour that went on just a little too long