Miramichi musician Robbie Tucker continues to find comfort and creativity in the face of overwhelming odds with his latest release, The Way I Feel Vol. 1.
Next year, Miramichi musician Robbie Tucker will celebrate the 20th anniversary of his debut album, The Ledden Street Sessions, an album he recorded on his own at 167 Ledden Street in Miramichi. Inspired by Paul McCartney’s self-recorded debut, The Ledden Street Sessions set Tucker on a course of self-produced music making that continues to this day, seventeen years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Tucker was 28 years old when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but he has never stopped writing and recording. If anything, he has only doubled down on exploring his passion.
“It’s made me realize how deep my love for writing and creating melodies goes and has given me an outlet to vent my frustrations,” said Tucker. “It’s also something I have had to figure out how to work around in order to be able to still make new music. After 17 years with Parkinson’s, I’m incredibly grateful to still be doing what I love.”
With nine albums and a few EPs to his credit, Tucker’s love for creating music borders on the obsessive. Or maybe it’s just a deep respect for lyrics and melodies. When a new idea comes along, whether or not he should follow it through to the end is never a choice he wrestles with.
“I just love songwriting and if I get an idea for a song in my head I can’t get it out until I record it,” he said. “I also love the ever-evolving thought of, ‘What else could I do? Where else could I take this song? How unique is this chord change?’ I also love the challenge of trying to come up with something new that I haven’t already done.”
But don’t confuse his prolific writing and recording as an act of therapy. For Tucker, music has always been a part of who he is.
“I would consider riding my bike or going to the gym to be forms of therapy,” he says. “Making music is just who I am. When I sit down at my piano or pick up my guitar to write a song I know there are no rules, no guidelines that I need to follow and that’s incredibly exciting. I think what is most important is to have fun and be open to whatever ideas or melodies that come up during the session.”
Tucker recently released his ninth album, The Way I Feel Vol. 1, a collection that continues down the experimental folk-pop path he has been following for years. Between deeply personal lyrics and touches of humour, are bird calls, rings, dings, handclaps and found percussion, making his new album an exciting ride and a further testament to Tucker’s boundless creativity.
Every time shadows find me
I think I think I should run away
But lately I must tell
I don’t have the strength to run away anyway
– Only Had Been I, Robbie Tucker
Beyond the music, part of what makes each new release from Tucker a rewarding experience are his detailed essay-like liner notes. It would seem documenting the songwriting and creation process is as important to Tucker as sharing the songs in their final form.
“For this new project, I wrote six new songs and used four older songs I’d previously written,” writes Tucker in the extensive liner notes that accompany The Way I Feel Vol. 1. “These songs were either finished but never recorded or unfinished, in which case I finished them.
“I spent the next two weeks cross-legged in the middle of my living room floor, fully immersed in the writing process. The new songs came quickly, only requiring a pencil, writing tablet, and pencil sharpener. Within a week, I completed the chords, lyrics and vocal melodies for the new tunes. Six songs, ready to record! Then I placed them to the side and started finishing the old ones.”
Whether he is tracking demos in his home studio or forging out ideas on guitar, mandoline, dulcimer, organ, recorder, keyboards, or any number of percussive noisemakers, Tucker’s heart-driven need to create shape his every step. And as the 20th anniversary of his debut draws closer, he shows no signs of slowing down.
“I’ll continue to make music for as long as possible in whatever capacity is available to me because there isn’t anything I love more,” he said.
“I still have so many songs left to write.”