It’s all coffee and catcuses from where I sit
Olive and Ruby is the tale of a song that almost never was. I wrote the song during the dark days of the pandemic after an annual visit to Vancouver.
At around Broadway and MacDonald in Vancouver there used to be a little coffee shop. The walls were covered in cacti and succulents with the opposite covered in a mural of a thousand colours. The chai lattes were served in obscenely large cups and the banana bread was worth selling your soul for.
However, this shop – like many – did not survive the pandemic. It shut down and I was devastated. It was still early days and I felt like COVID-19 had taken so much from me at the time. After months of lockdown I felt nostalgic for any sense of normal, so I wrote Olive and Ruby, named after the very place that inspired it.
I still remember the smells and the music
When I was pitching songs to a producer to, well…produce, I never pitched them Olive and Ruby. I saw it as a thought exercise more than anything, not something to be mass produced. However, my younger sister was furious the Olive and Ruby didn’t make the short list of songs and I explained to her I never shared it.
She had me send it to my producer and his note back to me was: “You should listen to your sister more.”
You and I watched the rain mark the windows as people went on with their days
But, Olive and Ruby continued to be a labour of love. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote (and rewrote) the chorus. Draft after draft of choruses (chori?) that would simply be pulled from thin air and left to the cutting room floor.
And the verses were dense. They were wordy and long. I cut 4 sections out of the verses otherwise I would’ve ended up with lyric after lyric after lyric until I tired my audience out beyond belief. As we narrowed our short list down to a shorter list, I cut Olive and Ruby from the list. After all that work, I scrapped it.
I feel a tap on the shoulder behind me
Summer of 2021 (yes, this project has taken me 2 years), I sat down with my family to play the final shortlist of songs I was set to record. Olive and Ruby had been replaced by a song about a boy. I played through the tracklist on my guitar only for my family to vehemently dislike the replacement song. I ended up replacing that song with Olive and Ruby, finally settling on a track list after 4 months of song selection.
Something so simple and perfect and beautiful gone
And it continues to belabour me. Olive and Ruby is being released at a time when my life is fairly upside down. And I think sometimes that’s what it’s meant to be. Because I hear it and the world feels more simple, more manageable. It’s about reflecting on a time when life moved slower and trying to grab onto the memories and keep the tangible.
I love this song, despite the hairs that have turned grey trying to get it done. I love the people who worked on it with me. Thank you to Stu Weinberg, Dan Hosh, Tom Hammerton, Kirk Starkey, and Meg Contini for working on this project. And thank you to you for reading this far. This is Olive and Ruby.
From me, with love, to you,
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