I sometimes find my best conversations take place in taxi cabs late at night. In the space of a 20-minute ride across town, I can connect in the rear view mirror with a stranger about the economy, winter in Ottawa and family. On a few occasions, I remember riding with a driver called William Hawkins. He was engaging and polite. We talked politics. Years later, I discovered he was a poet and singer-songwriter who played in Ottawa bands in the 1960’s.
Last week, a friend loaned me a copy of Dancing Alone, Songs of William Hawkins. The 22 songs on this two-CD collection produced by Ian Tamblyn are interpreted by artists such as Lynn Miles, Bruce Cockburn, Sneezy Waters, Ana Miura and Murray McLauchlan.
The last cut of the second CD ends with Hawkins reciting a short, stark poem called “Memories“. In the 47-second reading he compares his former rock ‘and roll days to his life now… “I am old, I am fat, I am poor and all of that.”
I recently read that Hawkins is still driving a Blueline taxi. If that’s true, I would like to meet up with him again. This time I’d like to talk about his music.