Séan McCann was a member of the Newfoundland folk-rock band, Great Big Sea for 20 years. Lending his vocals, as well as playing the bodhrán, guitar and tin whistle, McCann and the band toured the world to become the biggest little band out of the maritime province. Playing to large rambunctious audiences across Canada, the band became known for a good time on and offstage. For McCann, the hard-drinking behaviour came from a secret, dark side and served to anesthetize the trauma of teenage sexual abuse suffered at the hand of his community’s priest.
Released on April 14 and available at Indigo, One Good Reason: A Memoir of Addiction and Recovery, Music and Love is a shared endeavour of personal pain and understanding. In addition to being written from McCann’s perspective, the story is interspersed with the parallel life of his wife and co-author, Andrea Aragon. The book begins with a focus on McCann’s pre-Sea family life in St. John’s and details the abuse and how it stemmed from and wove into his life as a devout Catholic. The story veers into the formation and the eventual rock-star life of GBS but continually comes back to McCann’s alcohol abuse and how it tore at his relationship with his wife. The chance meeting between McCann and Aragon leads the two on a separate but twisting path together. That path eventually led McCann to understand the depths and truths behind his life of alcohol dependence and mental health.
ONE GOOD REASON – A Memoir of Addiction and Recovery, Music and Love is a raw retelling of a frankly more common story than most would imagine. It’s a reminder that abusive behaviour is almost always rooted in pain. The triumphant conclusion to the autobiography is how the couple recovers together and strengthens their lives and relationship. With a move from rock star to advocate of those living with mental health and addiction issues, this book is a cornerstone of McCann’s work.
Below is a TEDx talk where McCann sums up his past in word and in his song, Help Your Self.
Photo by Dave Howells