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This is the biography of Patrick Watson (based on things he told me.)
Once there was a boy named Patrick Watson who was born on a military base in the Mojave Desert. His father rode around in planes carrying bombs, waiting for a command to drop them that never came. He was the baby in a family of five, which would include a future figure skater, an engineer and an air force pilot, but he was seven years younger than his next older sibling. The trouble with being born this late into a family is they have all already gone mad, and they are engaged in domestic dramas, chasing each other around with knives. He was left to make too many assumptions about love and life on his own, and he still has the philosophy of a wise beyond their years wide-eyed child.
The family moved to Hudson Quebec when Patrick was four. He was asked by an old gentleman by the name of Frank Cobatt to sing in the church choir. Perhaps they met in the cough drop section of the local grocery store. And Patrick sang in the church and his little boy’s pretty, melancholic voice broke everyone’s heart. And the choir director had him sing at the foot of a grave at a funeral. Because there is something in his voice that captures all the lovely things in life we can only hold onto temporarily and how their transience is what makes them wonderful.
Patrick started playing piano when he was a child, of course. The piano used to belong to a boy named Gordon. The boy would appear as a ghost and teach Patrick how to play in the middle of the night. Even if Patrick played at three in the morning, his mother never interrupted these vital lessons. He showed me the photo of Gordon who looked, more or less, like a terrifying psychopath with tuberculosis who probably slit his whole family’s throats while they were sleeping. But I did not say so.
Patrick says he became a singer by accident. He thought he would compose scores for others to play, which seems like an odd thing to say because he is so clearly sprinkled with the pixie dust that causes a person to be transfixing on stage. And it’s now hard to imagine Montreal without the soundtrack of his songs.
But he met the artist Brigitte Henry who was taking surreal underwater photographs of people in their clothes to make a book. This seemed like very important business to Patrick, so he made music for her exhibition. They performed the show at the porno movie theatre Cinema L’Amour. It was sold out. Brigitte Henry still designs some of his album covers, including this one.
Patrick likes to hang on to people. He met his first guitar player Simon Angell playing guitar on the small streets of Hudson. In his first jazz class at college he walked in and Robbie Kuster and Mishka Stein were both sitting there. It was as though they were all waiting for each other. They would play together for the next twenty years.
While they were working on his first album, the band lived in an abandoned church. They were kicked out for ringing the church bells when homeless people came in to be married, waking all the neighbours up in the middle of the night, in a misguided attempt to let them know love existed.
The Regent Theater is located in DTLA at 448 S Main Street Los Angeles, CA 90013.