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James Gordon Highlights Growing Gaps in Humanity with New “The Great Divide” Single

Guelph-based singer-songwriter James Gordon examines takes a deeper look into social inequity on his new single, “The Great Divide.”

“There’s a railroad track near my house that divides the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots,’” he said. “It’s the same in many towns.

“It got me thinking about all the different ‘divisions’ we’ve created in our society, economic, racial, class, etc… The song ‘The Great Divide’ came from this observation.”

Like a freight train blowing its attention-grabbing horn, “The Great Divide” chugs along, calling out social injustices that keep surfacing in our boiling melting pot. The wail of the harmonica in the song’s intro and extro echoes the growing chorus of discord we’re hearing more often around the globe.

In the key folk music tradition of turning a mirror on ourselves and our human condition, James reflects an image that is uncomfortably true and impossible to turn away from.

It’s not just the tracks that split this town
It’s a system built to keep you down
If you don’t have the money and your skin is brown
Then slavery’s alive
All along the great divide

“The Great Divide” is the second single and lead track from James’ 40th (yes, 40th) album, When I Stayed Home — a self-produced, pandemic-born project released in July 2021—although James admits he’s “lost track,” and there could actually be more than 40 albums under his belt now. Over his enduring 40-year career, James has released music both as a longtime, successful solo artist, and as a founding member of the groundbreaking Canadian folk group, Tamarack.

“I can’t seem to stop writing songs,” he said. “Mostly, they write themselves — I just hold up a net, and catch them as they flutter past.”

Written and recorded at home during the extended periods of pandemic-imposed isolation that we’ve all experienced since early 2020, the album is just one of a number of projects James dove into during lockdown. A legendary ‘gig pig’ who has toured relentlessly around the world since he was 20 years old, James, like many musicians, found it difficult at first to adjust to staying home. But then, he got busy, really busy.

From his tiny home studio, James finished a novel that is accompanied by a 36-song recording; he did a virtual tour of his one-man show “James Gordon’s Emergency Climate Musical”; he kicked cancer’s butt, dealt with the overwhelm of his side hustle as a Guelph city councilor during Covid, and perhaps most significantly, wrote and recorded his 40th album. He may have been staying home but he was anything but standing still.

During a time when all of humanity has been threatened by a microscopic foe, James had a lot of personal time to focus on songwriting and sharpening his recording skills to bring those new songs to life. The new songs are current and they are socially conscious, with the album’s first single “We’ll Bring You Home” written in response to the shocking news that unfolded around Canada’s Indian Residential Schools this year.

In addition to “The Great Divide,” and its commentary on the income gap and racism, the songs on When I Stayed Home examine climate change, empathy, social justice, our natural environment and ‘love in a challenging time.’

“These are songs that demanded to be written,” said James. “And I’m excited about sharing them with the opening-up world.”

“The Great Divide” and When I Stayed Home are available now.

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