Bur­ton Cum­mings re­flects on five mem­o­rable songs from his solo ca­reer


Bur­ton Cum­mings will be in­ducted into the Cana­dian Mu­sic Hall of Fame on Fri­day in recog­ni­tion of his 40-year solo ca­reer.

The Win­nipeg-born mas­ter of in­fec­tious soft rock an­thems, and for­mer mem­ber of the Guess Who, be­comes the first artist to be added to the hall's new home at the Na­tional Mu­sic Cen­tre in Cal­gary. The Juno Awards will also pay trib­ute to him dur­ing Sun­day's tele­cast.

Cum­mings re­flected on his ca­reer and chose five songs from his solo era that he'll never for­get:

• “Stand Tall” (his de­but sin­gle as a solo act, a cer­ti­fied gold record)

“I knew it had a shot when we re­leased it, but we were all very pleas­antly sur­prised when it be­came so big. It eased some of my fears of be­ing a solo artist and kind of con­firmed in my head that I had made the right choice.”

• “I'm Scared” ( first track on his self-ti­tled 1976 de­but)

“I was in New York City and it was cold at Christ­mas­time and ... I was run­ning back to my ho­tel and I passed this church. I went in ba­si­cally to warm my hands and sat in the very back pew. There was not an­other hu­man be­ing in there, but I felt this pres­ence re­ally and truly - not to sound corny. I left a lit­tle bit up­set and ran back to the ho­tel, scrib­bled down some lyrics, and it ended up be­ing 'I'm Scared.' It's

not a love song, it's a song about won­der­ing and ques­tion­ing.”

•“Heav­enly Blue” ( from 1980's “Woman Love”)

“(The song is) one of my mother's favourite things ever. It's one of those pretty heart­break songs with a good vo­cal - one of the best vo­cals I ever did, I think.”

• “Is It Re­ally Right” ( from 1976's “Bur­ton Cum­mings”)

“That was sup­posed to be the ti­tle of the first solo al­bum, but Por­trait (Records) went all mid­dle-of-the-road and de­cided to put me in a stupid striped suit (on the al­bum cover). We had this bizarre Mad Mag­a­zine-type cover ... a setup in the back al­ley. We hired two mid­dle-aged twins, (pro­ducer) Richard Perry, my road man­ager Jim Martin ... and a cou­ple of sexy mod­els. We were all sit­ting around the big white grand pi­ano as if it were a pi­ano bar ... (that) orig­i­nal cover was fan­tas­tic.”

•“You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet” (a cover of es­tranged for­mer Guess Who band­mate Randy Bach­man's hit with Bach­man-Turner Over­drive)

“It was kind of meant to piss Randy off, but when the roy­al­ties started flow­ing in for him, he wasn't so pissed off any­more. Orig­i­nally I had planned to start that cut with the cash reg­is­ters chin­kling, but Richard (Perry) and I de­cided maybe that was go­ing a bit too far.”

Com­ments have been edited and con­densed.


Bur­ton Cum­mings poses for a pho­to­graph at Massey Hall in Toronto in 2012. The 68-year-old for­mer Guess Who front­man says he's lucky to still be around to wit­ness his in­duc­tion into the Cana­dian Mu­sic Hall of Fame on Fri­day in recog­ni­tion of his 40-year solo ca­reer.

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