Where I Belong
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From the lead singer of the band Great Big Sea comes a lyrical and captivating musical memoir about growing up in the tiny fishing village of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, and then taking to the world stage.
Singer-songwriter and front man of the great Canadian band Great Big Sea, Alan Doyle is also a lyrical storyteller and a creative force. In Where I Belong, Alan paints a vivid, raucous and heartwarming portrait of a curious young lad born into the small coastal fishing community of Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, and destined to become a renowned musician who carried the musical tradition of generations before him and brought his signature sound to the world. He tells of a childhood surrounded by larger-than-life characters who made an indelible impression on his music and work; of his first job on the wharf cutting out cod tongues for fishermen; of growing up in a family of five in a two-bedroom house with a beef-bucket as a toilet, yet lacking nothing; of learning at his father's knee how to sing the story of a song and learning from his mother how to simply "be good"; and finally, of how everything he ever learned as a kid prepared him for that pivotal moment when he became part of Great Big Sea and sailed away on what would be the greatest musical adventure of his life.
Filled with the lore and traditions of the East Coast and told in a voice that is at once captivating and refreshingly candid, this is a narrative journey about small-town life, curiosity and creative fulfillment, and finally, about leaving everything you know behind only to learn that no matter where you go, home will always be with you.
was not a fan of the Doyles, it was no fun going into her store. Once atop the concrete steps, you often found the door locked if Maureen was in the kitchen or washroom. There was sometimes a handwritten sign stuck with a dart into the thin-panelled door. It read: KNOCK HARD. But when you knocked hard, you’d be greeted a few moments later by Maureen, unlocking the door while shouting, “Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph, don’t beat the door in!” And when she saw me, she would roll her eyes. “I should
that. He’s been up since four in the morning. Far earlier than most, I learned that work does not do itself. What a lesson. The boys and I made some good dosh on the wharf, but it was not just the money that made me love cutting and selling tongues. Con O’Brien, from the Irish Descendants, grew up a couple of towns down from Petty Harbour, in Bay Bulls on the Southern Shore. A while back, we were talking about cutting tongues as kids. Con lamented the fall of the inshore fishery and the fact
ground on either side. Perry evaluated the situation. “This is crazy,” he said quietly. “Circus crazy.” I coiled the rope neatly in a circle as I had been taught to do by Jack on the wharf. It was still attached to the plank. I looked at Perry. “We are walking this plank. I’ll go first.” I took one step onto the plank and it bent ever so slightly. I kept my gaze straight ahead at the target of terra firma. A step or two later, I was past the point of no return. The plank was bowing quite a bit
we had arrived, safe upon the shore. And the treasure lay before us. The full bag of Simpson’s magazines was within arm’s reach. But instead of starting with that, Perry got caught up by the stray pages that had been cliff-battered and were now wet and clinging to the rocks. It didn’t matter to us that they were tattered and soaked, not if there was a naked lady somewhere on them. And that’s when Perry’s eyes went wide. He found a whole series of photos of a lady strewn across boulders on the
started counting us in by clicking his sticks instead of shouting, “One, two, three, four.” Our solos were starting and finishing at the right times. We were becoming a band. But we were a band without a name. We argued for a few days over what the band name could be. I think the only band all three of us liked was Van Halen, so we decided our band name should have three syllables and be two words. “What about ‘First Attempt’?” I asked. I figured we may as well let people know that we were new,