with Justin Rutledge

Justin is a Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter from Toronto. In recent years, he’s branched out into acting, including collaborating with Michael Ondaatje on a stage adaptation of his acclaimed 2007 novel Divisadero. On March 26, Justin released his ninth studio album, Islands. /Gregory Beatty

“Famous Blue Raincoat”
Leonard Cohen | Songs of Love and Hate (1971) | YouTube

I have yet to hear a song so devastatingly forlorn as this. It was the first song that made me feel transported into the music. When I listen to it I am on Clinton Street in New York, and it is late and cold.

Pearl Jam | Ten (1991) | YouTube

One of the greatest songs to come out of the Grunge era. I was in grade nine when I heard it, and really into hip hop. I borrowed my friend’s copy of Ten so I could ‘high speed dub’ it at home. After that day, gave up rap for rock.

“Let Down”
Radiohead | OK Computer (1997) | YouTube

I think the ’90s gave us some of the greatest albums of the modern age and Radiohead’s OK Computer is my generation’s Dark Side of the Moon. It’s hard to know what song to pick, but hearing “Let Down” never let me down.

“Return of the Grievous Angel”
Gram Parsons | Grievous Angel (1974) | YouTube

This was the song that transitioned me from rock to country. Before I heard it, I thought country music was big hats and boots. I didn’t know there was a cooler, underground side. “Return of the Grievous Angel” is Gram at his best, both lyrically and musically. A fun ride.

“Desolation Row”
Bob Dylan | Highway 61 Revisited (1965) | YouTube

This is the final song on the album, and in my opinion it’s the best closing song of any album I’ve heard. My aim as a songwriter is to write ONElyric as good as any of the lines in this tune. I haven’t succeeded thus far. Dylan is certainly flexing his muscles in this tune.

“Into My Arms”
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds The Boatman’s Call (1997) | YouTube

When my wife and I were planning our wedding, the subject of ‘first dances’ came up. This was the first song that came to my mind, and my wife had never heard it. I played it for her at the piano and we both cried out of love for one another. “Into My Arms” is heartbreakingly simple in its intent and execution, and it was our first dance as husband and wife.