A VERSION OF THIS APPEARED IN THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR, MARCH 31, 1998

 

 

BY NICK KREWEN

 

A track on the new BONNIE RAITT album has given a Hamilton songwriter something to talk about.

JOHN CODY, a singer, songwriter and former Spectator paper boy, has co-written the lead-off track of the multiple Grammy winning Raitt's latest album Fundamental, in stores today.

Called "The Fundamental Things," the uptempo tune has a funky beat and a sliding horn riff that sets the tone for the album, as the Burbank-born Raitt implores "Let's run naked through these city streets/ Let's wear madness like a crucifix."

"It's just a thrilling thing for me, especially coming where I come from," said Cody, reached at his $500-a-month Hollywood apartment late Friday afternoon.

"I'm really far from home, and not really making a lot of money, but Bonnie's going to change my world in way that I'm not quite sure I can grasp. I'm still overwhelmed by it. Everytime I listen to the song, it still blows me away that she loves it as well."

Cody, who co-wrote the tune two years ago with DAVID BATTEAU and LARRY KLEIN -- the latter a person whose three claims to fame are as a tasteful producer, respected bassist and the ex-husband who is still on friendly terms with former wife JONI MITCHELL -- says he's known about Raitt's interest in the song for almost a year.

"Klein's publishing company got it to Bonnie, and at a party some months after the song was submitted, Larry asked her what she thought of the song," Cody recalls.

"She didn't remember it, told him to send it again, and she recorded it last June."

There was one stipulation. Cody says he received a phone call last October from Raitt's management requesting that the song not be commercially exploited in the future.

"There were concerns that other songs she's recorded have been taken to Sprint or Kentucky Fried Chicken," Cody explains. "She's not really cool with that because -- as her manager puts it -- `Bonnie tends to make records that make Grammys.'

"I told him that I have an exploitation cause in my contract that allows me creative control over my songs, and to reassure Bonnie that that will never happen. They called me back a few weeks later and told me it was not only on the album, but it was the title cut."

For Cody, 29, it's a sweet payoff for a risk he took three-and-a-half years ago when he liquidated his assets and relocated from Toronto to Los Angeles at the invitation of Larry Klein.

At the time, Cody was at a personal crossroads. Two critically received albums on Duke Street , Zelig Belmondo  and Darkness Visible, the latter produced by Klein, had stiffed from what Cody perceives was a lack of commitment from the label's distributor, MCA Records (now Universal).

So his Raitt success offers some worthy vindication.

"It's very, very exciting," Cody responds. "Especially during a period where I had a record come out that MCA really didn't have that much faith in, that they thought would be in their words, `a critical success but a challenge to market.'"

"I placed `Hold On,' one of the songs from Darkness Visible  on HOLLY COLE's latest album Dark, Dear Heart, which is platinum in Canada. So much for `challenge to market.'

"I'm not out to make enemies, but I question highly the cowardice of Canadian record companies and the state of the music industry. I don't want to single out MCA or Duke Street because I don't think it's only them. Joni calls it the Canadian chip -- the idea that we have to apologize for what we do, whereas the rest of the world just doesn't give a s---.

"The currency of an artist is their talent. It doesn't matter where you come from. This idea that we as Canadians have an inferior or a harder time at bat, is mostly Canadian."

This isn't Cody's first taste of success. He co-wrote "The Secret Is To Know When To Stop" with Oakville resident TOM COCHRANE and sang backing vocals on his Diamond selling album Mad Mad World, including his million-selling hit "Life Is A Highway."

But since his arrival in L.A., his fortunes have changed. Both Klein and Joni Mitchell have taken him under their wing, to the point where he and Klein have formed a band that jams every Thursday at a trendy club called Le Deux Cafe.

"You can't smoke in bars in L.A. anymore, so you really have to scope out a place to hang," says Cody. "Klein and I have a band at this cafe. It's this kind of place where MADONNA goes and ROBBIE ROBERTSON, DENNIS HOPPER, DON HENLEY and CHLOE WEBB hang out.

"It's kind of like a jazz band. I sing some songs, and Joni Mitchell sits in for a few songs."

Cody just can't say enough about Mitchell.

"She's very gracious and very generous," says Cody. "She's been talking about me to a lot of people who are calling me for work, and helped get me a great manager. She's also played an important role in helping me get a record deal, so it looks like Darkness Visible  is going to be coming out again in the near future."

Although Cody is in thick with California's musical elite, he admits that Hamilton is never very far from his heart.

"I still remember my phone number and my postal code when I was five years old," he says before promptly reciting his old address. "I lived on Inchlee. 48 Inchlee Drive, L9A 1P5, 385-9506.

"I remember Linden Park and Burkholder, where I went to school.

"I still have relatives there. It's really a lovely town, too. People call it a steel town, but than they forget how beautiful it is, especially when you go around Stoney Creek and the Ancaster Heights."

Cody even remembers his days as a Spectator paper carrier.

"When I think about the Spectator, I used to deliver it, when I was 8 years old on the Mountain," he says.

"It's funny. You start out delivering a paper and you end up being in it. That's the only thing I wanted in life. I wanted to be someone people maybe read about, and have a life worth reading about."

You can bet a lot more people will be reading about John Cody's future accomplishments.

DISCOGRAPHY

1993 -- Zelig Belmondo -- Duke Street

1996 -- In Darkness Visible

PRODUCER

1998 -- Lynn Miles, Night In A Strange Town  (with Larry Klein)

 

COLLABORATIONS

 

1992 -- Various Artists, Back To The Garden -- A Tribute To Joni Mitchell (with Marti Jones)

CONTRIBUTIONS

1995 -- Tom Cochrane, Mad Mad World

1998 -- Lynn Miles, Night In A Strange Town

 

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©1998, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink.

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