I’m a cover story? Say what?

It’s true. Grab a copy of the year-end issue of WAMM and you’ll see this on the cover.

I’m a little sad Stephen didn’t use the shot of me pretending to rip open my shirt with a ridiculous grimace on my face. But only a little. I like how the way my hair is tied back has the unexpected side effect of giving you a pretty good idea of what I would look like if I chopped off my mane. Not that you should expect to see that happen anytime soon. Or ever.

To say I was not expecting this is a bit of an understatement. I know this is the time of year when people write things in print media about what they think the best albums of the year were. Last year CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN seemed to get a lot of attention, and suddenly I had something you might call a visible fan base. Before that, if you asked someone in Windsor what they thought about Johnny West they probably would have said, “What — you mean the sex toy in that American Pie movie?”

This year I put out three albums, and they were all well-received — some more then I expected them to be. So I figured with the nice things people have been saying, and with CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN making appearances on a few local “best of 2008” lists, I would probably see one or two of my 2009 releases end up on a “best of 2009” list somewhere. And I would be flattered. And then I would say something about it here like, “Look at me, there I am, drink some rice, eat some ham.” And that would be that.

But no. Apparently I have more supporters than I thought I did. I was told so many people wrote in to WAMM voting for my albums, the decision was made to ditch the whole “best-of” theme and just make me “artist of the year”. So there I am on the cover, and there I am again inside. Here I was assuming a few things being touted recently as the best things ever to come out of our border town would kind of blot everything else out, including me. I guess not.

So here we are. Craziness.

Turns out this stirred up a bit of criticism in some quarters. I heard through the vine of grapes that some people — I have no idea who — feel it isn’t right or fair for me to be deemed “artist of the year” when I never play live.

Read that last sentence again, and laugh along with me.

This kind of logic cracks me up. It’s like saying someone isn’t a good actor because they don’t do a lot of press junkets and have found a way to keep their private life private, or a successful tennis player shouldn’t be on the cover of a sports magazine because they only do a major interview every few years.

I could say a lot of things in response. Instead I think you should check out the segment of Not in My Backyard from this afternoon that addresses the whole bag of potatoes and hear what Adam, Tom, and Stephen have to say about it all.

Not in My Backyard segment (12/8/09)

Anyway. It’s a little weird to be criticized in the article for being “self-indulgent” and a “reluctant editor” when I’m supposedly the artist of the year. And I’m not sure I would have taken the “addressing some of the hype without telling you anything meaningful about the artist” approach if it were me writing the thing. But putting that stuff aside, thanks to everyone and anyone who wrote to WAMM extolling the virtues of my noise. You’re all crazy. I don’t know if I’m really all that worthy of being deemed “Windsor artist of the year”, but you went and made me a year-end cover dude, and for that I will be eternally purple. Now you know the truth — I really am a figment of someone else’s imagination, my name is Bongo, and I live in the broom closet of a bowling alley.

I’ll try to have at least another few albums for you all to frighten your neighbours with in 2010. You can probably expect a new one in January if I don’t manage to get it done by the end of this month. I’ve been toying with the idea of paying someone else to master the music for a change, but I’ll probably just squash that and do it myself as usual.

I don’t know about that live business. I know for a fact I never said anything like that last thing I’m quoted as saying in the article. I’m not sure why or how that got printed when it never came out of my mouth. As it stands right now there isn’t any scheduled live show on the horizon, in spite of what you might have read. But I guess anything’s possible. Maybe an evening of Lady Gaga covers is in the cards for sometime in the New Year.

There are some other things a-brewing that weren’t mentioned in the article, but for now my lips are sealed with some sort of generic silly putty. All will be revealed when the time is right.

One thing I gotta say — while it’s flattering to be called a creative genius, that just ain’t possible. Or, as Ralph Wiggum would say if he were in my shoes, “Me pass music? That’s unpossible!” A genius I am most decidedly not. Anyone unfortunate enough to hear the song I wrote for a girl I was infatuated with in grade eight could tell you that. Luckily I’ve kept that horrid cassette well-guarded through the years.

I’m just a hairy guy who makes music. And I’m only going to get hairier in the days ahead. So you’d best brace yourselves.


  1. after listening to the comments on CJAM and reading the article in WAMM, one of the many things that makes me proud to know Johnny is that he makes the music he wants to make and does not need to play live to prove anything to anybody. he is light years ahead of most simple minded dolts and does not need to conform to their simplistic imposed rules. his music gets better with time and we should all be thankful that he decided to let us into his world of music.

    I salute you Mr. West and say that you should never change doing what you are doing as it is incredible, absolutely incredible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Wow, congratulations!

    Re: “inappropriate for me to be “artist of the year” when i never play live.” What a load of bollocks! It seems to me like saying that a painter is no good because he doesn’t paint in the middle of the city for everyone to see. I suppose it would be different if they called it “live performer of the year”, but they didn’t so there!

      1. I knew I should have. I did a version of “The Blower’s Daughter” that was 20 minutes long, complete with a very long bassoon solo that had the audience in tears. I’m still not sure if they were weeping at the beauty on display, or because they wanted the pain to end. But next time I’ll make sure to record the show for posterity, and I’ll post it up here.

  3. 🙂 that makes me very happy. you deserve it!! and as for the morons saying it’s inappropriate for you to receive it because of that live crap, well… need I say more?

    1. Yes! You need to say more! You need to say something about a purple butterfly floating in the sky. Because one day that song will be on a CD, and then everyone will hear about you, multiplied by 3.

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