My Music: Jeffery Straker

Chris Graham

Jeffery is the reigning SaskMusic Awards Folk/Roots Artist of the Year. On May 7, he released the album Just Before Sunrise. To celebrate, he’s embarked on a virtual concert tour which concludes with shows on May 19, 26 and 27. Get the details at jefferystraker.com. /Gregory Beatty

“Everybody’s Talkin’”
Harry Nilsson | Single (1969) | YouTube

I moved to Belfast, Northern Ireland for part of my university studies and lived in a Georgian row house with some great singers. At late-night song and drink sessions, this song was a favorite for two harmony-singing gals named Carol and Loraine. Every time I hear it, I’m transported back to those nights standing in the kitchen listening to them.

“Fred Jones, Pt 2”
Ben Folds | Rockin’ the Suburbs (2001) | YouTube

After discovering Ben Folds through his hit “Brick”, I dug deeper and found this simple piano ballad accompanied by a cello, with Ben crooning about Mister Jones on his last day working at the newspaper (I think Fred has just been laid off). It’s about purpose, and makes me feel some deep feels.

“Sailor Song”
Regina Spektor | Soviet Kitsch (2003) | YouTube

The chorus is “Mary Anne’s a bitch” repeated six times. Sometimes for a song to have you love it, it doesn’t need profound poetry. It just needs truth, and to say something that songs don’t often say.

“Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk”
Rufus Wainwright | Poses (2001) | YouTube

I once ran into Rufus on a sidewalk in Toronto and almost peed my pants. He sings like nobody sings, he writes like nobody writes, in concert he sometimes forgets the words and… he doesn’t seem to give a shit. I love it. What genre is he? Who cares?! I just feel what he’s feeling when I listen.

“Both Sides Now”
Joni Mitchell | Clouds (1969) | YouTube

The original Clouds version always left me feeling like the tempo and the guitar strumming didn’t really suit the words. It was just a bit too ‘cheery’. BUT her re-recorded 2000 version with the benefit of all that life experience in her voice — it brings me to tears every time. 

“Into the Mystic”
Van Morrison | Moondance (1970) | YouTube

I just love this song though I’m not quite sure what it’s about. Is it someone returning to their lover? Is it about the inevitability of the end of life? No idea. But I love the vibe, and the vagueness of the poetry helps me lose myself for three minutes and 30 seconds. And the saxophone hook is groovy.