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Dallas Green of 'City and Colour' talks faith, grief, and art on the new album

City and Colour's lead singer Dallas Green.
All Eyes Media
All Eyes Media
City and Colour's lead singer Dallas Green.

Tragedy and loss permeate the new record by Canadian band City and Colour. But there is also hope that with good friends, family, some good songs, and maybe a little faith you can get through it.

Dallas Green is the man behind the songs on City and Colour's seventh studio album "The Love Still Holds Me Near."

Welcome, Dallas. You suffered the death of both your cousin and a longtime friend in 2019. You've said that this record isn't about those specific events, but you do sing about coping with and getting through some pretty tough times. Does performing these songs pull you back to that time and place?

You know, it hasn't so far, I was a little bit sort of suspicious of how I was going to feel singing these specific songs. And we just did a tour in Australia, and I was playing a few songs off the record. And I felt very joyful while I was singing.

Like when I listened to the record after I finished it. I think I had made something filled with joy, and not so much sorrow, as much as I was singing about and writing about some pretty traumatic experiences and times in my life, you know? But I kind of feel like playing the songs will just be an extension of that. I'm sure some days though, you know, the emotions will rush in. But I always look at playing live as this. It's that moment where I can go to the other place. You know, it's like the moment I'm most thankful for.

On "Meant To Be" you seem to be struggling with how faith can be a balm for some people, but that doesn't seem to ring true for you when you sing I don't believe this is how it's meant to be. Are you at odds with your faith or the faith of others?

Well, I'm born and raised Catholic and I went to Catholic school my whole life and can't help but sort of be swayed certain ways just because of what I've been taught. Now I'm not a practicing Catholic, I haven't been since I left school and whether you believe or not, you can still sort of be observational when looking at these things.

And so when I knew I was going to write about sort of my experience with grief, and what I was going through meant to be was a way for me to eulogize my friend, but also ask a bigger question.

That leads me to "A Little Mercy" where the chorus says we don't need this pain and this suffering and you also ask if wounds ever heal. How did making this record help your healing process?

I think there are songs that I write that sometimes I just really need to get something off my chest. And that is one of them, where I found two chords in the melody that I felt like ruminating over for six and a half minutes. But that came from a conversation I was having one night with Kitt King who's the artist who painted the cover of the record. And we were sort of messaging back and forth about art and process - because she's like an just an unbelievable visual artist. And you know, she works through a lot of her pain that she's experienced in her art and sort of led to a bigger conversation about what I was writing about.

Again, another big question: Do we really have to suffer so much in order to experience the other side of it, you know, like, you can't have light without the darkness and pain without joy and all of these things we've been taught in our lives? It's just, yeah, again, another place for me just to work on a big question and to a nice melody. But really, truly making the record and writing the songs and sort of falling back in love with, with the joy of creating and making it with the band. It was a real sort of therapeutic process.

Dallas Green is in the band City and Colour. The new record is called "The Love Still Holds Me Near" and it's out now.

Eric Hodge hosts WUNC’s broadcast of Morning Edition, and files reports for the North Carolina news segments of the broadcast. He started at the station in 2004 doing fill-in work on weekends and All Things Considered.
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