Just a Thought... What's the greater risk? Letting go of what people think - or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am? [Brene Brown]
A girls' weekend! I can hardly believe it, but I'm spending a few days in the company of two women who've held my heart in their hands the past nearly 18 months and have been my friends long before that. More on Monday, if I can even get off the massage table.
I don't know if I can put into words the night we shared with 300 audience members on Wednesday. You saw the pictures from the event "Nobody But Bublé" at the historic Berkeley Church yesterday; if you didn't, please take a look at Thursday's journal, but let me tell you about what happened behind the scenes as well as onstage between Michael and me. (All of the photos in today's journal are courtesy of Sam Santos/George Pimentel Photography).
We began with a quiet chat in his dressing room. He asked how I was, all things considered, and was making a reference to our losing Lauren. I got the chance to thank him for tweeting us back in May 2015 and how much I appreciated his gesture. He remarked that there aren't any words...and I agreed. But just the fact he found a few meant a lot.
I couldn't help but sense there's been a change in Michael Bublé, now a 41-year-old father of two young boys and husband of five years to Luisana. There's a vulnerability - what feels like a humbling, and I can't explain it.
Perhaps it has to do with being in this place of deep bounty in his life; maybe it's the throat surgery that sidelined him (although he'll tell you that it's commonplace among singers - far more so than we even know). But there's the business side of his life that has taken him to a place of risk.
When you are a singer, there are a lot of people who are pulling the strings - from your agent to your manager, your producer and arranger to even your songwriter. Imagine, then, deciding that your next album, you're going to take more control of the reins. That's what Michael has done with Nobody But Me, which drops today.
Both times I listened to it, I was struck by the lushness - the artfully perfect arrangements of standards like "I Wanna Be Around" and "The Very Thought of You" - and the variety of tempos and styles. One cut, "Someday", features Meghan Trainor and is co-written by One Direction's Harry Styles; another, "Today is Yesterday's Tomorrow" was penned by hitmaker Ross Golan.
When we talked about producing, Michael told me that the courage to put it all on the line, as he has done with NBM, came from an article in Time that quoted TED Talk-er extraordinaire Brene Brown. It was about success and the fear of failure. (Trust me, she's worth looking up. I'm going to search out the book from which she quotes for some vacation reading next month.) One of her pearls of wisdom: there is no innovation and creativity without failure. Love that. How much strength we could all have if we'd take that to heart!
Against the advice of almost everyone close to him (they called him crazy) he decided to go ahead and do this. And it's with some trepidation, that humility that I sensed with the usually cocksure singer with the sparkle in his eye, and a great deal of dedication, that he has approached this new album. He said that while it wasn't on par with the birth of his sons, it was not a dissimilar experience.
His sense of humour intact, Michael had an already enthralled audience laughing as he thanked everyone for coming to watch him through their phones. He wasn't wrong. The four songs he performed - three from the album, and the career-making favourite "Home" - were pitch perfect and showed no signs of any vocal distress. A full band of at least 10 pieces, including horns and strings, joined Michael and looked to be having the time of their lives, just as the audience did.
While my chat with Michael had its share of laughs, we also connected on the importance of love being that cushion, that armour from fear of failure. We discussed his noticeable weight loss, a pursuit of better physical fitness and how he hates sharing a hotel gym (self-consciousness) even with Fergie of Black Eyed Peas, as he did recently!
He talked about his roots and how his favourite singer of the whole Rat Pack was not Frank Sinatra, but Dean Martin. That's how one of Dean's songs, "On An Evening in Roma" came to be on the new album.
But it's the last song that will always remind me of Wednesday night, and more importantly, our daughter. As Rob and I were going through some boxes and sorting pictures on the weekend, the songs of this new album kept us great company. As we did our chores, I was thinking of the questions I'd ask; it was a great combination of work and pleasure. At the end of the album, a reprise of the title song (a bonus track) played and I thought that was it.
And then...then the strings of the most gorgeous arrangement of a pop song came wafting through the house. It was the Beach Boys' ballad "God Only Knows". I can't even begin to describe to you the melancholy beauty of this incredible arrangement and what it did to me; not until later did I learn that Michael turned off the lights in the studio to record it and looked only at his phone and a picture of his family as he sang.
The emotion that comes through in his voice, in that achingly sweet arrangement, is quite likely one of the most beautiful pop renditions you will ever hear. I stood at a window as it played and let the tears stream down my face, dampening my shirt and soaking me in my own sorrow. It was, I guess you could say, a good cry. And one of the reasons I will love that song, this album and Michael Bublé, always.
I'm so grateful to have been offered the chance to act as host for a night that was truly a combined effort by so many. Thank you, Michael and his management, for choosing CHFI and Rogers as the only launching pad in Toronto for this very special album of his. As he put it when we met backstage, "I couldn't launch it without you!" I know he was being kind, but I'd like to think our station's been a bit of a good luck charm. 'Cause like most everyone else, we wish Michael only the best. That's what he's given us in Nobody But Me.
Have a beautiful weekend. Thanks for sharing in these adventures - they really are more fun when you come along.