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Ron Sexsmith
The Mellifluous King

I just spent an enjoyable morning cleaning the house and listening to the first three Ron Sexsmith CDs in order. Hey man, I don't even like to listen to three Beatles records in a row. (Brings up too many memories, for one thing, too complicated.) But Ron is an eminently listenable artist. Why? Melody, my friend. That's what really makes songs listenable, and memorable. And Ron Sexsmith is the mellifluous king. I was talking to Steve Earle about him the other day (Steve seemed admirably glad to talk about someone other than himself), and he said, "Ron writes lyrics better than most people do. But when it comes to melody...well, he's hard to beat."

His songs are also free of self-congratulation and narcissism, in my view. They are humble and introspective windows into the soul of a lovely person. Sometimes he catches a little flack for being morose, but it's undeserved. He's got lots of up songs, and his darker songs are a joy, and are almost always about love, which is a mixed bag at best.

If you count his early Grand Opera Lane, Ron's released 4 CDs, each better than the last. (Grand Opera Lane is now available from Canadian online retailer Maplemusic.com. I'm hot for my en route copy at this writing.) They're all on Interscope Records, in this order: Ron Sexsmith (1995), Other Songs (1997), and Whereabouts (1999). By all appearances, Interscope has balked on a fourth recording done in Nashville and produced by partners Steve Earle and Ray Kennedy. When I spoke with Steve about it, he was looking at the idea of releasing it on his own E-Squared label.

Perhaps you know that some of today's greatest stars have heaped enthusiastic praise over the body of Sexmith's music. His hugest champion is Elvis Costello, who was photographed for the cover of the great English music magazine MOJO, clutching the first Sexsmith disc. But the list goes on and on, breakfast jam with McCartney, Rod Stewart cover version of "Secret Heart," and that's only the beginning of his fame among the famous. It's we, the listening public, who have been slow to catch on. Worldwide acclaim has not led to impressive sales, and that's a shame, but let's change it. If ever there was a quintessential artist for the elusive market called pop for adults, it's Ron Sexsmith.     continue to interview

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