Reading of Séan McCann’s One Good Reason–PART 2

Not talking about something when sober then constantly bringing it up when you’re drunk means it’s an issue
Headshot by Megan Vincent

This Part 2 (likely of 3) of my “live blogging” my experience reading One Good Reason: A Memoir of Addiction and Recovery, Music and Love by Séan McCann and Andrea Aragon. 

Premise: We’ve reached the musical stage of things. I mean the whole thing is musical but this section really hones in on McCann’s rise as a prominent musician on the St. John’s and then Canadian scene, as par of the legendary band Great Big Sea. He meets Aragon in Colorado, they fall in love, start a family, but things go awry.

Reading Speed: Still finding this a quick and clear read, straightforward and enjoyable storytelling.

Format: Pdf on my laptop.

Accompanying Music: Anything by Great Big Sea obviously, but those first three albums, Great Big Sea, Up and Play are a straight infusion of nostalgia.

Show-stopping quotations:

From McCann

Our first band was called NRA. Not the ‘take this rifle from my cold dead hands’ crowd but the Newfoundland Republican Army.

and

I don’t remember a single thing about the gig other than it was jammed full (about fifty people). Since then I’ve had at least five hundred people tell me they were at that pivotal performance, and by all accounts we were absolutely fantastic.

and

I mean it’s just a baby, not a bomb, right…so how bad could it be…?

From Aragon:

While I was standing there with my tongue hanging out, staring like a fool, my friends started calling him ‘Mr. Yellow Shirt,’ because he was wearing a loose, faded yellow sweatshirt-type pullover. I honestly couldn’t take my eyes off of him.

and

Not talking about something when sober then constantly bringing it up when you’re drunk means it’s an issue.

Insights:

McCann does a great job showing us the drudgery of touring. Very little glamour here, when he talks of eating gas-station burritos, arguing over poo-and-smoke schedules and the endless hours staring over monotonous (my word, not his) prairies. Aragon later adds that it would take him days after a tour to re-enter normal life and stop being a rock star.

Here we see some of the fallout from early-life trauma. McCann parties harder than anyone, exactly what you’d expect from a member of Canada’s most successful party band, but the drugs don’t sound that fun, more a means to numb a very deep pain. During this phase, McCann shares a second damning story involving a priest, an old friend. Eventually, meeting Aragon, and having children, gives him the motivation to at least try to quit drinking.

As expected, Aragon’s voice becomes more prominent once they meet, giving us another perspective, first lovestruck and then frustrated with the realities of loving an alcoholic–his anger and unfair verbal jabs he won’t remember when sober, and the hints of childhood abuse McCann dropped when he was drunk. Unsurprisingly, it all gets that much harder when the children are born. But Aragon notes that she was good at keeping a drunk happy; she’d learned how looking after her father.

Written By

Chris Benjamin is the managing editor of Atlantic Books Today. He is also the author of Boy With A Problem; Indian School Road; Eco-Innovators and Drive-by Saviours; as well as several short stories in anthologies and journals.

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