DiscoverThe Art of LongevityThe Art of Longevity Season 7, Episode 6: Ron Sexsmith
The Art of Longevity Season 7, Episode 6: Ron Sexsmith

The Art of Longevity Season 7, Episode 6: Ron Sexsmith

Update: 2023-07-09
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After he “couldn’t get arrested” in the 80s, post-grunge opened a window through which a then 30-year old Ron Sexsmith could climb. With his sincere, low-key ballads and simple songs straight from the heart, as was his 1995 self-titled debut. Produced by legend Mitchell Froom, it was a stripped back affair but also with the signature sounds of Froom and his engineer collaborator Tchad Blake (favourites of the crew here at The Art of Longevity). Those songs came as an antidote to the loudness of grunge and the hubris of Britpop. Sexsmith was a pioneer of a style that paved the way for a wave of troubadours including Teddy Thompson, Josh Ritter, Rufus Wainwright and many more. Of all places he was signed to Interscope - then one of the world’s biggest major labels.

“They didn't really know what to do with me. They called me a ‘cred artist’. Someone who had good good reviews and they could point to and say - 'we’re not just pop' - so they could attract other real artists.”

“I coasted on that for a while, but then around my third album (Whereabouts, 1999) I saw that it didn’t mean anything to them any more. To have an artist that was just good to have around”.

And so that early run came to an inevitable end as Ron was slammed into the wall of the ‘dropped artist’. By then though, he was into stride as a songwriter. No longer an apprentice to those amazing producers he has worked with, he was on his way to mastering the craft. Indeed, these days he describes himself as more of a problem solver than a songwriter.

This songcraft is what connects Sexsmith to the greats. When I mention to him that Spotify pays him a compliment when its continuously play/radio function will follow one of his songs with Nick Lowe, Nick Drake or some other legend, his response is modest yet enlightening.

“Well I didn’t know that but one of the nicest things anyone ever said about me was what Randy Newman told Mitchell (Froom) that “I like Ron because he does the work”. And I thought, yeah that’s true, I do do the work. That’s what I try to do and for the most part. There’s not a song I could play you where I’d think the song is terrible”.

That's because none of them are. May I strongly suggest you sit back and enjoy the fruits of Ron Sexsmith’s labour.

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The Art of Longevity Season 7, Episode 6: Ron Sexsmith

The Art of Longevity Season 7, Episode 6: Ron Sexsmith

The Song Sommelier