Vue Weekly

VUE WEEKLY, JUNE 5, 2008

Music - TIM HUS

TIM HUS TIPS HIS BIG BLACK HAT TO ALL THE BUSH PILOT BUCKAROOS

By Eden Munro
VUE WEEKLY, JUNE 5, 2008

Music - TIM HUS

TIM HUS TIPS HIS BIG BLACK HAT TO ALL THE BUSH PILOT BUCKAROOS


By Eden Munro
Truck drivers, pioneer aviators and coal miners are all there on Bush Pilot Buckaroo, the fourth album from Tim Hus, who answers the phone with a gentle and enthusiastic, “Hello, this is Tim Hus, the cowboy singer.”

And, like the best of the cowboy singers—think Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Ian Tyson or Corb Lund—Hus demonstrates an impressive ability to inhabit characters of all sorts in his songs.

“They’re all things that interest me personally,” he explains of the subject matter on the new album. “That’s kind of been my thing, whether good or bad, but I’ve never tried to write a commercial song right from the start. I don’t really even know how to do that—I just write songs that interest me personally about things that I’ve done or personally experienced, or things that interest me that I’ve researched or stories from people I hang around with.”

Now, anyone who’s ever written something can tell you that there are few things that strangers like more than sharing some idea that they think would make a good story, and Hus is well-aquainted with those vicarious storytelling types.

“Nowadays I gather a lot of stories from going down the road,” he laughs. “Once people clue into the types of songs that I’m writing there’s rarely a night that goes by when somebody doesn’t come up and share some story that they feel would make a great song.”

The songwriter isn’t averse to taking a little inspiration from those stories—the title track on the new record began when an airplane enthusiast gave Hus a hard time for not already having a song about flying—but he also admits that there are plenty of stories that just wouldn’t work in a song. As Hus has developed as a songwriter, he’s gotten a good feel for what makes a good song—or, more specifically, what makes a good Tim Hus song.

“I try to write songs that work on several levels, the first being, if you’re just a drunk in the bar, that they’ve got a good rhythm, you can tap your foot to it and you can drink beer to it, and its got kind of a catchy melody or a catchy hook,” he says. “And then I like ... to research my songs quite keenly so that if you want to listen deeper into them there’s a whole kind of underbelly of specifics. A lot of songs are historical in nature or they have particular settings in place or time and kind of chronicle a certain part of, you could almost say, contemporary rural Canadiana. And then the third level would be ... that they’re about specific time and place but have a universal appeal, and hopefully it will be able to inform people.”

Considering the value that Hus places on strong songwriting—along with his healthy interest in decidedly off-the-beaten-path subjects—it’s not all that surprising to hear him say that he’s not much of a fan of the music streaming over the airwaves today.

“We all know that there are an abundance of songs in popular culture where once the song is done you’ve forgotten it, or you might as well forget it, and that song only last on the charts for as long as it takes for the next one to come along,” he says about the disposability of the Hit Parade, before adding that the opposite problem exists as well. “There’s also that thing where people write songs that are, I’m gonna say, almost too meaningful—the song almost reads just like a newspaper story. Usually the heart is there, it’s just the execution. You sort of tell a long-winded story about something that in the end just isn’t very interesting, or perhaps only interesting to very limited people.
“I guess I kind of try to sit in the middle, which is to make songs that are possibly good for beer drinking, foot stomping, good melodies, good hooks, but you can definitely go deeper into them as well ... If I can write songs that entertain and inform, I think that’s important.”

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