I caught an interview on NPR yesterday of Cam Penner, a singer/songwriter from Manitoba that caught my attention because he describes so exactly my own experience. Penner, raised as a Mennonite, went to Chicago and lived with the Jesus people there, working with the homeless.
He speaks about the raw honesty he found there, and about how their ghosts live inside him telling their stories through his songs.
That’s what it was like for me, also. That raw honesty is so unaffected, so real, it strips through all the bullshit like a cold rush of white water through a mountainside. And leaves ghosts inside. Painted Black is filled with the ghosts of some of those people whose raw honesty made such a big difference in my life.
PENNER: Well, the thing about it is it’s raw honesty, which is sometimes the most beautiful thing. And I never saw it as working with the homeless. I just I was just hanging out with these people who had something to say and they lived it out. And it brought me direction to my life listening to these people. And I think that’s what it was for me – you were listening and you responded. And it’s like I have 10,000 stories inside me ’cause I’ve met so many people that got these ghosts living inside me. And now it comes out in my songs and my lyrics