As punk rock icon and Airdrie resident Art Bergmann preps for a re-release of his eponymous third album later this year, the 63-year-old songwriter has much to reflect on – especially as the release coincides with the 25th wedding anniversary of Bergmann and his wife, Sherri.
The couple married in 1991, prompting Bergmann to pen the track Faithlessly Yours. Bergmann said lyrics such as “ God hid an answer in her body / I’ve been in the wrong room for so long / I found no question in her body / I’m in the room where I belong” spoke to him being “ gobsmacked” with love at the time.
“ It was a romantic time in our eyes. We got to go to Spain to shoot videos for that song and a couple others on that record,” Bergmann said. “ It was a pretty magical time.”
In the 25 years since the album’s release, Bergmann has released six others, including 2016’s The Apostate. Though the couple traded life in Toronto for rural Alberta, Bergmann’s music and outlook hasn’t become any less pointed.
“ (It’s about) critical thinking, to find out the truth. Don’t believe half of what you see and hear. Find out for yourself,” he said.
Although Bergmann said age has made him feel more empathetic, he said the world faces “ immense and even more complex problems” than ever before, citing the Canadian residential school system as among those issues.
On The Apostate, Bergmann sings, “ The story of Bobby Bird / he was ni’hio, ten years old / one of those who never returned / from those schools where souls were burned.”
“ The revelations about residential school and what we did, that situation, it’ll take many generations,” he said. “ We put these people through seven generations of oppression and imprisonment.”
Bergmann said his songwriting has evolved, incorporating country sounds with his punk rock background. His lyrics have continued to focus in on the political and cultural, while growing “ more universal.”
“ It’s changed immensely. The first big change is getting older and watching decades slip away like years. The clock goes faster,” he said. “ It’s kind of got me back to wanting to write and record again, to get a few thoughts down before my sell-by date is up.”
Bergmann’s lyrics have frequently cast skepticism on the ruling class while propping up the oppressed and the afflicted. At 63-years-old, that inclination appears to be growing even still.
“ Each one of us has the same universe of thoughts inside him and her,” he said. “ We need to look at each other with more empathy.”
The Apostate is available for purchase at weewerk.com