The Only Sin

by Smokin' Joe Wiseman

Released 2013
Wolf Publishing
Released 2013
Wolf Publishing
Folk-rock music featuring Canadian themes including First Nations issues, traditional Newfoundland culture and, of course, love.
Smokin Joe radiates the soul of Johnny Cash, the sensuality of the Grateful Dead and the style of Woody Guthrie wrapped up in a folk/roots package! Smokin Joe’s somewhere between "Ringo Starr and the Grateful Dead" His songs are “real life gritty”, not “Nashville pretty”!

I am a member of the Nashville Songwriters International Association (NSAI). I am also a member and Branch Co-ordinator (Bay Sy. George) for the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC). I am an online student at SongU. I also participate annually in SongStudio - hosted by Rik Emmit and Blair Packham. I am a member of Music Newfoundland and Labrador (MusicNL). I can honestly say that each and every one of these organizations has helped me to continually hone the craft of songwriting and I thank them!

Songs are the main vehicle by which a songwriter communicates with listeners. I will be sharing my songs, and stories about how they were written, in my newsletter. I will also be sharing additional folk art and personal interests.

What's Happening

My 4th CD, "The Only Sin" is currently being shipped from the replicator, Blu Monster Media, in Kingston, Ontario. I expect to have copies in hand by the time of this newsletter. All, who have worked on the project, agree, that it has been the best of the 4 projects. I have also begun a Production arrangement with Allister Bradley for my 5th Project. The songs are pretty well selected for that project and I am now re-writing and editing the songs for that Project. I usually cover 2 favorite songs for each Project and Project 5 will feature the blues standard "Midnight Special".

To date I have recorded 4 CD's; A Field By The Sea, Blue Smoke, Life is Good and The Only Sin. You can sample songs from these CD's on my CD Baby web page store. As well, some of the songs appear in the audio player on the top of each page on my website. Songs from The Only Sin will be available as soon as I am able to send CD Baby a copy.

I will miss Juan Albarran in a production role as he has been with me for 4 Projects. I am indeed happy that he will continue in a musician's role as our rhythm guy. A band without solid bass and drums is like a house with no foundation. I look forward to Juan's continued contributions to my musical efforts. Juan is pursuing his interests in the field of photography. Check him out on facebook.

What I'm Reading

I have just finished Ami McKay's "Virgin Cure". The book is a period novel based in 1871 in Lower Manhatten. It explores the life of a young girl who is sold by her mother to a brothel for training as a prostitute. The morals and amazingly deviant medical beliefs surrounding venereal disease are hurdles for a young Moth to overcome while maintaining her dignity, and finding a way to survive and earn a living. Cruelty, ambition, beauty, greed and malevolence all conspire to make life a challenge for Moth. Kindness and a well placed and unexpected mentor or two help her find her way. A well written exploration of deviance and survival.

Best Leonard Cohen Songs

I am a great fan of Leonard Cohen and have often pondered which of his songs were the greatest. The question is; which are the 3 best Leonard Cohen songs of all time?

I suggest that the top 3 are:

- Hallelujah

Without a doubt, this is his greatest song. In fact, it has been called the greatest song of all time. Released in 1984 it took a while to catch on with the music loving public. The greatest testament to the popularity of this song is that in recent years, more than 20 years after its release, 3 versions, including Cohen's original, all appeared in the charts in England at the same time. The most popular version was recorded by Jeff Buckley but did not achieve chart success until years after Buckley's death when it finally, in March of 2008, topped the Billboard's Top Digital Songs list. The song eventually achieved both Gold and Platinum status, more than 25 years after its original release.

- Suzanne

Written about Suzanne Verdal, the wife of a friend of Cohen, in the early 1960's, in Montreal, this song has become one of the most covered of Cohen's catalogue of great songs. First recorded by Judy Collins in 1966, the song was later released by Cohen on his first album "Songs of Leonard Cohen" in 1967. Pitchfork Media listed the song in their Top Songs of the 1960's. Although many suggest that Suzanne and Leonard had sexual relation, both deny this is so, and the lyrics speak of infatuation rather than a relationship.

- Bird On a Wire

Released on Cohen's 1969 album "Songs From a Room," once again, Judy Collins was the first to release a recording of the song in 1968. The liner notes refer to the song as both a prayer and an anthem. At the time of writing Cohen was depressed and living with his girl friend Marianne on a Greek island. The song was likely somewhat biographical in nature and was responsible for turning him around and on the path to writing once again. Johnny Cash covered the song on the first album of his American Recordings series. As a vocalist, Johnny brought a spirituality and essence of ownership that was never present in Cohen's delivery. It was as if Johnny was that man who was "like a drunk in a midnight choir." Two of the best in traditional folk music combined on this one - Leonard Cohen as the songwriter and Johnny Cash as the artist. Job well done!

Whether or not you agree with my picks, there can be no argument that these are some of the best Leonard Cohen songs of all time

The CD Exchange

If you are an artist, indie or otherwise and would like to build your collection of Indie music by exchanging CDs, please e-mail me at I would be pleased to exchange music with you.

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