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Zen and the Art of Life on the Road: An Interview with Fred Eaglesmith

FJE: I've done this all my life. I had a friend who grew flowers in the late '80s. I needed a job. So I took a truck and took these flowers to town and started selling them. And then I just went crazy. I became the best of the best. Florists said, "Ask that guy, he knows everything." I'll do it with anything in the world. If I have an interest in it, I'll buy every book until I know it, know it...and then I'll put it on the shelf with the other things.

JP: Your last record, Tinderbox, had yet again a distinctly different vibe. Are you surprised by how people reacted to it?

FJE: No, it's the same thing. If I get into it, I'm dead meat. I can't stop until it's done. People say that all the time; that it's a departure from what I've done. They say it about every record. I've got letters about almost every record I've put out telling about how awful it is. And then an apology letter four months later. Now I don't really care.

JP: Is that because you're making the record for you?

FJE: No, I'm making it because it's interesting to me. So I'm not making it for me. After it's done, I'll finish this record and I won't listen to it...for five years or 10 years. I'm not interested in it anymore.

JP: But you'll still perform the songs.

FJE: Yeah, yeah. But I'm not the Tinderbox preacher guy anymore. That was a fun thing. And I really explored what it would be to be that guy. And how much fun it was. And then I went, "Oh yeah." The trouble with a lot of people is that they think they have to stay in that box. So I explore the box that they're in and go, "Hey, now would be a good time to get out of this box. Right now." But I guess people think that they have to stay, so I don't. I don't. So I explore the world and jump. It's good to be somebody else sometimes.

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