I have been following Stephen Fearing's solo career for three decades now. I have the sense of knowing him intimately (which appeared to be the case when I greeted him with, 'Hey Steve!' as he climbed the stairs at the West End Cultural Centre on Thursday night..). After meeting a fiscal deadline by working a twenty hour marathon that day, I was more than ready to sit back and let myself be taken away by Stephen's melodies, his unique and gifted lyrics, and the life stories that always come between songs sung with such passion, I feel that I've personally been invited to share his home for the next two or three hours.
This girl was disappointed when she saw him joined on stage with another guitarist, another song-writer, another... But I want Stephen, I mumbled. I want his stories, the sound of his fingers on the acoustic guitar, I want to feel the passion of his solo vocals.
My niggling inner 'artist' voice was very much at odds that night with a feeling of disappointment at not being fed what I was hungry for. I mean, who am I to tell a creator what to create? It goes against all I believe in, and I understand that to ask an artist to stop in time is tantamount to asking him to stop growing as an artist. In essence, any one of us who chooses to sit in a stagnant pool of a something already created stops being a creator, doesn't he?
And so, I was glad to catch him on Breakfast Television the following morning where, as a songwriter, he compared choosing to stay in his own experience, to eternal navel-gazing.
"When you have a chance to work with another writer, suddenly it opens other doors. You get to use their metaphors, their chord choices, and it feels authentic. You're not just trying on a different hat. You're actually working with them and seeing it through their eyes. And that's one of the attractions in collaborating."
Thanks for reminding me how important it is to take those leaps, 'Steve', and how valuable it is for artists to share their creative space . . .