You think you know Jann Arden: she’s Canada’s cranky songbird, but still comes across as everyone’s best friend. Writer, singer, songwriter, actress, comedian, animal rights activist - Jann’s all that, but still maintains that failure is an integral part of personal success. We talk about mothers, addiction, and the importance of friends. Oh, and Wendy drops the F-bomb. Again.
This highly anticipated convo with Jann may not be what you expect: of course she’s funny and foul-mouthed, but also deeply kind and perceptive. Come sit by Jann’s crackling fire and for a laugh and a couple of dives into all the things that matter.
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Jann Arden 00:00:02
The Women of Ill Repute, with your hosts, Wendy Mesley and Maureen Holloway.
Wendy Mesley 00:00:07
So, Maureen, have you ever thought of having a life coach? Have you ever had one?
Maureen Holloway 00:00:11
A life coach? Like, one of those people that tell you what what to do and have your best interests at heart. I don't know. I picture a life coach as being somebody who sits on the sidelines and goes, come on, kids, let's go, let's go, let's go. No, I've not had a life coach, but I have had therapist. My mother put me in therapy, I think, when I was ten. Not not for any particular reason, but it was the 70's, and it was all that sort of self help, I'm okay, you're okay kind of stuff going on. Not to jump down a rabbit hole. My family was like the Royal Tenenbaums. Do you know who they are?
Wendy Mesley 00:00:43
Well, you've teased me as being a pop culture alien, which I am, but I have heard of them. There was a movie, right? Tell me about them.
Maureen Holloway 00:00:50
There's a movie. Wes Andersen. Gene Hackman played the father. Angelica Houston was the mother. Three children, Gwyneth Paltrow and Owen Wilson, I can't remember the third. And they were all like child prodigies or child actors. And I had- my siblings were all super bright and all that, and then they all grew up and experienced crushing disappointment and failure as adults. What about you?
Wendy Mesley 00:01:12
Well, I came close to going to therapy because right after I met my- sounds weird, but I met my dad at 18, so my parents split when I was a baby. And after meeting him, he'd briefly been a journalist. And I said, all of a sudden I've had a job at CFRB. I said, or actually at CHUM. And I said, I want to be a journalist. And my mom was, oh, no, it's the influence of the father. So we'll have to go and see a psychiatrist. You have to go into therapy. And he basically put me through all of these IQ and aptitude and whatever tests, and said, she can do whatever she wants, don't worry about it. So I went to Ryerson.
Maureen Holloway 00:01:43
Well, listen, most people would probably consider us to be successful, like, hugely successful in a very difficult profession, but we have and may yet experience moments of intense failure.
Wendy Mesley 00:01:57
Well, yeah, I had a pretty intense moment. My career of 40 plus years, nearly all of it at the CBC, sort of came to a crashing halt in what I refer to as The Incident.
Maureen Holloway 00:02:10
The Incident. Well, okay, so more on that. But the reason why we're here today is why Jann Arden is such an inspiration. And you know what? She is our guest, and it amazes me that anybody, including Jann herself, would have any sense of having been a failure. She's so talented, she's funny, she's empathetic, she's released 15 albums, she's written four books, she's got a huge hit TV series, she's got a podcast, by the way, and everybody loves her. She has the voice of an angel and she's completely down to earth.
Wendy Mesley 00:02:39
And yet she's a failure. Somehow I don't think so. But what about a life coach? Could she do us?
Maureen Holloway 00:02:44
Yes. Jann Arden joins us next to be our new life coach. Come on, kid, let's go, let's go. So, just on how busy you are, I just want to point out that you've got your new album, you've got a new tour, you have a hit television show, you have a bunch of best selling books, you get the Order of Canada, on, and on and on. So we thought we'd start by talking about failure.
Jann Arden 00:03:05
Yeah, well, no, I fail at a lot of stuff.
Wendy Mesley 00:03:10
Yeah. I don't know whether I've ever met you. I feel like I know you, but there you be.
Jann Arden 00:03:13
Well, samesies. People that are doing stuff repetitively on the airwaves or on television or- it's just kind of like through default. Everyone feels like they went to junior high school with you. So that's kind of cool. People are usually very nice to me. There's been a few incidences, but the failure thing is I have failed a lot. I have certainly failed a lot personally, and failed a lot in relationships, and failed a lot in my work. I'm not afraid of it. I don't think I ever was. But I was very naive when I was younger. I didn't even realize that I was just failing constantly and just kind of intrepid and just naive. And I would just get myself up and dust myself off. And I had everybody telling me, someone that looks like you coming from where you come from. You can't do this. Why bother even trying? I just want everyone to know that there's a fire going in the background. It's just on its last dregs. It's not flatulence. I'm not sitting here farting.
Maureen Holloway 00:04:13
Now that we know what it is, it's okay.
Jann Arden 00:04:15
Now that you know it's a fire going, it's just sort of charming and you can picture me in the trees. I fail a lot and had a lot of people telling me, you can't do that. But I had a really great mum and both my parents were great. My dad had his issues, but my mum went, why not? What could possibly- What's the worst that could happen? You just keep trying. She just was that person, and it builds character. She would always say any kind of opposition you face in your life, or any kind of things that don't go your way, that's how you become a person. So I was fully prepared to- I wanted to become a person.
Maureen Holloway 00:04:50
I was going to say you became a person. You said you didn't really become a real person till you were 45, which is very specific.
Jann Arden 00:04:56
Easily, I would probably even say 50 now, as time goes by. Because as each year kind of goes by, it takes a long time to be a person. It takes a long time to- when you're 20, you have problems. You're drawing from a very small pool of experiences in order to solve those problems and to comfort yourself and to be emotionally responsible. And you think you know everything, right? And then when you're 30, you're like, Holy God, Jesus, then you have more experiences. And so when I was 45, I thought I had all these experiences, but I would even venture to go even further than that because when I got sober, when I finally quit drinking in my life, that's when I feel like I actually became the person that I always wanted to be. I cannot believe it took me that long. And I consider myself quite reasonable, but I could not get past alcohol. It was a very hard thing for me.
Wendy Mesley 00:05:48
So many things to talk about. Like, my mom had Alzheimer's and Maureen and I both love a glass of wine, so we got so much to talk about. But I'm really struck by, like, you've done all of these things and you've got a podcast, you've got all these books, plus you're a songwriter, you're a successful musician.
Maureen Holloway 00:06:05
Wendy Mesley 00:06:06
Yeah, a TV show and all of this.
Maureen Holloway 00:06:09
Wendy, no offense, Wendy doesn't watch anything or read anything. She's got an amazing show. It's hilarious. You have to watch it. Anyway. Go on, Wendy.
Wendy Mesley 00:06:18
Well, we have that fight. I try and tell Maureen that I'm the smart one and the pretty one because I was on TV and she can be the funny one. We're still arguing about this, by the way.
Jann Arden 00:06:28
You're both very smart and very beautiful and very knowledgeable, and you've woven yourselves through the community of Canada.
Maureen Holloway 00:06:36
Well, thank you. But back to failure.
Wendy Mesley 00:06:39
Yeah. It's kind of made me think of, like I don't know, I always thought that- I was raised by a single mom to sort of fight the fight, and I always felt like an outsider or an underdog, and I always felt like I was fighting for good things. And then I was seen by some people as not fighting for good things. I didn't stand up for myself. And you do. Like, I go on your Twitter account. And you're like...
Maureen Holloway 00:06:39
You take on the trolls.
Wendy Mesley 00:07:02
Here's my thoughts on this. Here's my thoughts on that. And you're free and you're open and you take on the trolls. I didn't and I don't know, I think there's sort of like, different levels of bravery and different levels of growing old and becoming wise, and I don't know, I think you're wise and funny in yourself, and getting there is quite the journey.
Jann Arden 00:07:21
I think as you get older, you're a little easier on yourself. But just to have those golden days where you don't have any worries and you've got a few bucks in your pocket. And that's the nice part about getting older. The Twitter thing. You have to really find perspective. And I talk to people about Twitter a lot. I'm trying to do better myself. Personally, I told someone to fuck their eye socket a while ago, and I had my production people from the company going, Jann, you need to remove that comment, because, you know, we're trying to sell the show in Europe, and, you know, they go through social media, and I'm like, I don't care. That's why I have a TV show to begin with. I did remove the comments. The people that attack you in a personal way when they don't even touch the issue, when they're just basically going after you, like calling you a whore or C-word or whatever, it goes on. It's absolutely gobsmacking, what people will say to you on that forum. They have no leverage other than most of them have 7, 20, 40 followers. They really have no voice in their lives. They are powerless, and they're only heard if they attach themselves to somebody. And the way to do that is attacking. I mean, even if they get blocked, they feel, she saw me, and I was noticed. And that's difficult. There's something like less than 1% of the people on this planet that have a platform to be heard in a social construct. So that would be you and you and me, and especially as women. It's amazing. So 99% of the people in the world that walk this planet, they have no leverage.
Wendy Mesley 00:09:00
Yeah. It's hard to know when to be braver. Something happened to me about a year ago, and I thought I was being supportive, and that's not the way that it was seen. And I didn't stand up for myself. And you do. And I guess the other thing that you made me think about is the whole thing with your mom. Like, my mom had Alzheimer's and died of that and a bunch of other things.
Maureen Holloway 00:09:18
Wendy's got mom guilt. I guess I do too.
Wendy Mesley 00:09:21
Yeah. And you brought your mom in, and you lived with your mom, and-
Jann Arden 00:09:27
I didn't live with mom. My mom and dad built a house on my property. It was like a granny cottage. And they were here for ten years. And really, a few years after we got out here, they both started to deteriorate. But, yeah, Wendy, you do the best you can, and don't even bring guilt forward. There's no place for it. The thing that I learned too, and I'm sure you learned this from your mom, is that my mom has her own road to walk. She had her own life story. She had her own little piece of the universe, and there was nothing that I could do to save her from the hardship of that. I got better with not correcting her. That was one of my biggest things, that took me five years to not have my default as anger, frustration, fear. It was all fear. I was so scared of losing her, and I still can't remember my mom the way she was. She's been gone for years, but I don't see it. But the guilt is not something you ever need to carry around. You've got your own story, Maureen. You've got your own story that you have to walk and you have to face a lot of difficult things and you're going to hurt people that are around you. My mom, she was such an amazing person in her life. But she said to me, just because I can't remember doesn't mean I'm not happy. And I'm like, wherever you go, I'll be there, too. That's one of the last things she ever said to me. And I hold onto that like it's a star falling out of the sky. And I know she is. I know she's around. I think I have a better relationship with her where she is and where I am, because I talk to her more, I lean on her more, I rely on her more. I feel like the answers are more clear. It's pretty amazing. We die, and how we die is not always the greatest. Memory loss is very difficult. But I'm the best version of myself because of my mom's disease.
Wendy Mesley 00:11:09
Our moms died. Maureen and my moms died, like, within a week of each other.
Maureen Holloway 00:11:13
That's just the tip of it. We got breast cancer the same year. We had the same starter job in media. We've only been friends for about five years, but the parallels in our lives are insane. Like, insane.
Jann Arden 00:11:27
Oh, my God, you guys.
Maureen Holloway 00:11:29
But my mother- had my mother told me she would be with me always, I would have run screaming until I had a terrible relationship with my mother. A wonderful relationship with my father, despite the fact that he was an alcoholic. And my mother died suddenly. Like, quite the opposite. She went in for laparoscopic surgery a year and a half ago and it went south. And so I never got a chance to say goodbye or to tell her that well, I did. She just couldn't hear me. I mean, I got to the hospital in time.
Jann Arden 00:11:58
She heard you.
Maureen Holloway 00:12:00
Yeah. It's funny. My sister said, I think mom is haunting me. And I said, what do you mean? She said, well, at weird times, I feel that she's in the room.
Jann Arden 00:12:09
Haunting. That's an interesting choice of words. Not visiting. Not visiting.
Maureen Holloway 00:12:14
Well, if you knew my mother, it would be a haunting. I was getting ready to go to work at 3:30 in the morning, back when I did mornings. And I was brushing my teeth. Nobody else is awake. And all of a sudden, I heard a knocking at the radiator right next to, like, in the vent. Not the rad. And I turned and I went talking to the rat.
Wendy Mesley 00:12:30
No, we all do.
Maureen Holloway 00:12:32
No, you don't.
Jann Arden 00:12:34
Who knows what we are? But it's an extraordinary experience to have the opportunity to be here. The odds are so spectacularly stacked against us. So to be a human being sitting on this little tiny place, all these extraordinary animals. It's crazy.
Wendy Mesley 00:12:49
The Alzheimer's thing is so strange. I remember when- my mum was really smart and she raised me on her own and we were close and I remember her saying, and I've told my daughter, who is the same age, of course, as Maureen's son, 23, of course. Yeah. But I remember her saying to me at the beginning of Alzheimer's, there's something happening. I'm starting to go. And I was like, Oh, no, everything's going to be great. You're so smart. And so I've told my daughter, if ever I say something's changed it's because I really feel something, like, pay attention, because it's too late now. Like, I can't remember, what did Uncle Norm say about- like, nobody else is going to remember that.
Jann Arden 00:13:28
If human beings are clever enough to store things on the Cloud. I always thought about that in terms of memory, because we base everything on memory and how we remember things. And you and Maureen, five years from now, will remember things very differently.
Wendy Mesley 00:13:44
I noticed that you use the F word a lot and I say, I basically use fuck for a number of different purposes, but apparently it's not a good thing.
Maureen Holloway 00:13:53
I love the way that you said, you use the F word and I say fuck all the time.
Jann Arden 00:13:57
I thought I was going to be in trouble. Well, we can't use the podcast, so thank you and fuck off.
Maureen Holloway 00:14:03
Wendy Mesley 00:14:05
Yeah, but words change, right? Like Greta Thunberg, who is so cool.
Maureen Holloway 00:14:09
Words. Well, Wendy was a victim of a word. Maybe that's not the right way to put it.
Wendy Mesley 00:14:15
Yeah, well, I shouldn't have used the word.
Jann Arden 00:14:18
Greta Thunberg. You can't say Greta Thunberg and then not finish the sentence.
Wendy Mesley 00:14:22
Yeah, so Greta Thunberg now says that she's never going to utter the F word. She's never going to say fuck again because it's a bad word. And I'm like, Okay, here we go. Well, not that I use the N word and I shouldn't have, and I've learned from that, and I think I've more than paid for that, I hope. But the F word, I got to get rid of the F word now, too?
Jann Arden 00:14:42
That's never going to happen with me. Language can't be policed. You speak the way you speak and whatever vernacular you want to use. It's proven, too, that people that do express themselves in a colorful way. I mean, my dad swear rainbows. He swore unicorns. The things that came out of his mouth in a fit of rage in his construction job? As a kid, I was just like, that is the most amazing string of words I ever heard in my life. But don't let people admonish you. How people want to behave in their lives and how they want to make their way through the world that is in and of itself. It's fine for her to say that and do it, but you can't admonish other people for doing it. There should be a caveat, like, I'm not going to do it, but you guys go fill your boots. That's the way to present things like that. But here's a young lady with the literal weight of the world on her shoulders. I mean, she started something that has become so much bigger than the individual. And she's young, and she doesn't have any experiences to draw from. She's a crone.
Maureen Holloway 00:15:41
She's a crone, though. I was reading your book about crones. She's a crone. She's like 21, but she's a crone.
Jann Arden 00:15:48
Yeah. What are her experiences? I mean, where does she come from? People come down here with divinity. There's so many people- you can't explain Mozart. You can't talk about that kind of catalog of work, the stuff you did, like so many of those composers. People don't write like that anymore. It was very much when you're looking at pyramids or the architecture that happened through Europe, like in the 13th, 14th centuries, it's just how they built without computers and weight loads and the cathedrals they made, and they're still standing today. There's some divinity involved in here. I don't know how, what, but she's one of those people that just is enlightened and brings something. To have billions of people know who you are at 13, 14, 15 years old, and to be fighting against corporations and to be standing so strong. I mean, most young people could never do it. They couldn't stand the ire. To have grown 60 year old white guys drawing cartoons and being afraid of her, being afraid of her power with people, because they would never have that kind of power. To sway people's opinions, to educate.
Maureen Holloway 00:16:53
I want to jump in here with one of the problems with people like Greta Thunberg, and by people, I mean impassioned people who care very much is that they can be accused of being humorless. And I'm not saying that she should be doing stand up on the side, but that's a balance that you achieve all the time. Jann, that we've talked about this before. You go out and sing the most plaintive, heart wrenching, beautiful songs, and then you do schtick in between. I can't think of too many people who can do that, and I wonder how you live with that.
Jann Arden 00:17:27
It doesn't seem very polarizing to me. It doesn't seem polarizing at all. I don't know. That's just the way I am. It's not something I had to kind of manufacture. I kind of remember on a professional level, telling stories and was working way up north, like in Smithers and Yellow Knife and White Horse and wherever the heck we were in these terrible bands in the- we only knew ten songs. So the guys would say to me, can you talk between songs? And you would repeat the songs three or four times in the evening. But people didn't care. They just wanted music playing. They just want boom chick. And we were too lazy to learn new songs, right? But, yeah, I just started talking between songs and having a yarn and laughing about things, including the audience. So I just always kind of carried that through. It's probably more for me than anybody else, because I felt like I needed to let people off the hook. And I have been always asked why I don't write funny songs. And I was very desperate to be taken seriously. And when you're a funny person, it's hard for people to kinda- Is she being serious right now? So when I started down that road in music, and I started writing songs really young, like eleven years old, ten years old, I just thought, I'm not going to be funny in these songs. And I never did. I've never written a funny song. I do not have a funny song. I have ironic songs, but I don't have funny songs.
Wendy Mesley 00:18:45
So here's a really stupid question. I noticed that after you wrote your first book, like, you became super famous in a TV show and a podcast, and you became sober and you became a blonde. Like, is life better as a blonde, or? It's obviously better sober.
Jann Arden 00:19:05
I've always had really fair hair. Like, I dyed my hair red for years, but it's very hard to maintain because I had blonde roots. I'm not kidding you. So I have really light blonde hair, like light brownish blonde hair. But I just got sick of doing anything. And I don't have any gray hair yet. I don't know how, but my Franny, hi, Franny. My hairdresser is just like, you don't have 1 gray hair. But my dad didn't either, and neither did his mother. My mother went completely gray at 35, and she always dyed her hair. Don't ever let my hair go gray.
Maureen Holloway 00:19:33
Wow. She saw it all.
Jann Arden 00:19:35
I said, I won't. And don't ever let me be dirty. Always get me showered up or find someone that will give me a shower. You probably won't want to.
Wendy Mesley 00:19:43
So life is not better as a blonde. You were always a blonde.
Jann Arden 00:19:47
Life is better sober. But it's very hard keeping maintaining dark hair when you don't have dark hair. I'm not kidding you. I'd be on the road and dark hair is hard to do out of a box. There's so many things that can go wrong.
Wendy Mesley 00:20:03
I always thought that you were dark and that you went blonde, but it's the other way around.
Jann Arden 00:20:07
No, it's the other way around. I can do highlights now and just leave it for like, months. I haven't done anything with my hair for six months. It's just up in this knot, and that's usually where it stays until I have to actually do something.
Maureen Holloway 00:20:20
Well, you're going out on tour.
Jann Arden 00:20:21
Yeah, I am. I headed to Europe first. I've got corporate work over there for two and a half weeks to almost three weeks, which is going to be challenging, but I've been to London. I was there in December, and they were doing 120,000 cases a day. I was fine. I wore a mask everywhere. I wash my hands. I don't go out to restaurants. I just don't do that stuff. I'm too chicken. I don't want to get COVID. I probably will, but I'm doing everything I can to dodge it. And then I fly straight back from Amsterdam, I think, is where I land. And then I go into rehearsals in Toronto. And then I fly back here to get my little dog because I can't bring him with me to Europe. There's quarantine laws and blah, blah, blah. So I'll leave him here, and then I have one day between rehearsals and my show, so I'm coming back to get him, repack my suitcase. And then I go to the the 7th of July. But it's good because I've certainly worked the last couple of years, but not on the road. And the stage is not my life. I like it, but I'm not that kind of a person. I don't feed off the audience. I don't need that. I really enjoy it. I like doing live music, and it's so great when everyone's laughing and everything, but when I'm not doing it, I don't miss it.
The Women of Ill Repute.
Maureen Holloway 00:21:34
What do you love to do the most of all your creative outlets? Is it acting, writing? You're very prolific. Four books.
Jann Arden 00:21:45
Well, I don't know about that. I mean, Stephen King and Ken Follett and Anne Rice. No, but I mean, I'm really not a writer. But that's the whole thing about failure. I can hardly spell. I've barely finished high school. But you don't have to be a great writer to tell a great story. And we see it every day. People have conversations telling each other's stories. It's not like they're using every superlative in the world. Well, the guy fell off the building and his femur was out. Look, like, you don't have to be this precision person. So that gives me a lot of bravery. I read a lot as a kid. I just was such an avid reader. I would be reading under a blanket with a flashlight. I was that kid. I just like it. And I'm not really great at anything I do. And I'm not trying to be silly. I'm not the greatest singer in the world. I'm certainly not the greatest songwriter. I'm okay at what I do. I'm just very tenacious. The greatest thing you can do in anything that you choose in your life is just to be persistent, consistent, and to just keep going no matter what anybody says, because it's so subjective.
Wendy Mesley 00:22:55
We found that so many of the people that we're talking to, they're former alcoholics. And Maureen and I certainly like the odd glass of wine.
Maureen Holloway 00:23:04
I plan to be a former alcoholic. It's on my list of things to do.
Wendy Mesley 00:23:08
But what is it? I mean, I don't know, maybe we're weird. Every family, I think, is weird. My grandparents drank way too much. I remember my mother, when I was about ten years old, going, Oh, my God, I had a second glass of wine. I'm so embarrassed. And I'm like, but, mom, you're, like, way more fun with a second glass of wine. And she loosened up. But, I mean, people are terrified of alcohol. People get addicted to alcohol. People enjoy alcohol. We rely on it.
Jann Arden 00:23:36
Sales have gone up by over 700% in the last two years. 700.
Wendy Mesley 00:23:41
Yeah. It's such a big deal.
Jann Arden 00:23:43
Feel like, how is that possible? Let's just look at your bottles you've thrown out.
Maureen Holloway 00:23:47
Look at your blue box.
Jann Arden 00:23:49
My dad handed it to me like it was a hundred dollar bill. And I remember taking my first drink, I think I was like 15 or 16 in the back of a car. Someone was driving, and they were passing around a Mickey, and I think it was Rum. And that first drink, I went, Oh, this is the greatest. I love this, whatever this is. So I think my cells were waiting to be addicted to something. I never did a drug in my life. I smoked pot once. I just didn't like it. I've never done a drug. I've never done anything. I'm very reticent, even taking Advil. But alcohol, the legal aspect of it, that it was accessible, that it's something that's not frowned upon socially. We watch lots of out of control friends all the time, and we turn a blind eye. It's not our problem. The whole culture between the mummy wine culture and if your reward is a drink, this is my opinion, then you're really missing out, I think, on what life could be. If the reward is a drink of alcohol. I just want to be here. I was always rewarding myself with that, and it's just not- I'm lucky to be alive. I'm lucky to be alive. I was hospitalized many times with my heart just from drinking too much. It just didn't like it.
Maureen Holloway 00:25:00
It was a nurse who told you.
Wendy Mesley 00:25:00
One line from a nurse.
Jann Arden 00:25:04
Yes, Nancy Clark. I remember her name because she told me about her cat named Pepper Clark. I was just laying in the hospital bed and I was so disappointed in myself. My mum was sick, and I thought, this is it now, because I tried before, and you just kind of slowly get back. And I didn't drink every day. So I think that's where people kind of lose sight of alcoholism. I didn't drink every day. I would go three weeks, four weeks, two months, and then when I did, it was always out of control. But if you're out of control once a week or once a month or whatever it is, blacked out? It was just a problem. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, but I could not have a conversation with that version of myself in my head. I never won. I always thought, I will do better this time, I can handle it. I can't handle it. My dad was an alcoholism, and I swear to God, whatever happens, when our DNA gets information and that plug goes into the wall. Here, we're going to share our information now. I got that information. My mom never she was not a drinker. Oh, I wouldn't mind a beer, and she'd have two drinks out of it, and then it would sit, and my mom never did. And she lived with his alcoholism for so many years. I don't know how she did it.
Wendy Mesley 00:26:18
Well, that's like smokers. I hate smokers because I used to be a smoker, and I hated people who would, like, smoke at parties. I thought, But I'm addicted. How can you do that? But it seems like some people can.
Jann Arden 00:26:30
I smoke, too. I smoked.
Maureen Holloway 00:26:32
It's a slippery slope, though. Wendy and I have been out, and I will cop to having the occasional cigarette, and then I don't. And you sit there literally fuming. Well, I guess I'm the one who's fuming. How can you do that? How can you just walk away from it? But I mean, addiction comes in different packages in different forms. But I want to say something to you, Jann. When I talked to you, which I have been lucky enough to for years, I had a comedy show years ago that you were on a couple of times, the Dish Show. I remember. It was really funny because we had a set and there was a staircase leading up and nobody used the staircase, but Jann was, I'm using the staircase. And you came down the stairs? I think you actually pretended to fall down the staircase, but it was hilarious.
Jann Arden 00:27:15
Of course I did.
Maureen Holloway 00:27:17
Of course you did, because that was 25 years ago. That was Jann then. But whenever I talked with you or I read your book, I feel like you're like a good friend. And in your latest book, I've got it right behind me, If I Knew Then, you talk about how your friendships are the most important relationships. Talk a bit about that.
Jann Arden 00:27:35
To make friends when you're older is a very difficult undertaking because a friendship requires reciprocity, and you usually get a lot more particular about the ethics and the morality and the code of honor that a person has, because your time now is clearly on the other side of the glass. And it's very important that the time we spend with people- we're not going to remember, really, our jobs when we're laying there or when we get older and we don't feel well. We're going to remember the relationships that we had. I think music is not the most important thing in my life. It's not. It's my friendships, because they're usually the people that I write about. They've just been so steadfast. I've got friends that I've known pretty much all my life, since I was five or six years old. I don't have a lot of friends. I know so many people, but they're not people that I would have here in the house or... It's just their grace and how forgiving people are, that they stay with you through everything. I had so many pals, like three or four of them, to help me with my mom. I could never have done it. Like, they'd stay here when I went away. And it's hard when it's not your mum, when it's somebody else's mum that you're looking after. Maybe it's easier in a way, because you're not so connected to it. But friendships are the golden threads that make human life tolerable and manageable. It's the people that you know, even in work, it's the people that work with you that lift you up and carry you along. The work itself, I think, is a moot point. The people around you, the cameraman, you have these little conversations in between what you're doing. That is the people. That's why you want to go to work.
Wendy Mesley 00:29:13
Yeah, I find it's changed so much. I was really struck by that back when I was working full time at CBC because I never- Like I hear what you're saying about friendships, but I was almost the opposite. All of my friends were work friends because all I ever did was work. And so I was really tight with the people that I worked with. And it was only when I got older that I sort of reached out to people like Maureen saying, Hey, you're cool. Let's be friends. And I made time for that.
Jann Arden 00:29:41
Because you realized it was important.
Wendy Mesley 00:29:43
Yeah, but then at CBC, people would say, like, team bonding. And I thought, Okay, team bonding. Let's all go for- let's have like, beer and wings or whatever. Let's go and let's get a hammered and have fun and talk about stuff. But that doesn't happen anymore. One of the last things we did was we went painting and everybody had like, half a glass of wine and stood in front of their easel for an hour and a half. And then we all went home. And I was told, well, it's because people don't have jobs for life anymore. You had a job for life. Which is true. And so I could invest in friendships. I could trust people that I was with.
Jann Arden 00:30:15
But you're at a point now where you realize the importance and the simplicity, but the connection is not something that's manufactured. That's what I mean by reciprocity. Just gathering together and doing something fun. It's really cool. There are different kinds of friendships.
Maureen Holloway 00:30:30
I love living with my friends. It's one of the things we have a cottage or what wendy and I and our husband went sailing together. I love that intense time together where you have experiences at the same time, or you have coffee in your jammies, rather than the friends that you just go to dinner with. I mean, you're not having any life experiences together outside of dinner.
Jann Arden 00:30:50
Yeah, but they're both important and there's different levels. I can't explain it. They're important, I think, for our lives. But as you get older, if you have the privilege of getting older, and it is a privilege, so many things can befall you. And if you have the privilege of traveling together with someone in this unique parallel where the five years turns into ten, turns into 20, turns into 30, and you've spent a great deal of your time with friends talking about the past and talking about the remember when. And then the moment that you're having there will be a remember when, five years down the road. Remember when we went to the cabin and you had those crazy pajama bottoms and we did this and you made the worst lasagna I've ever had in my life, or whatever it is. When you really look at what it is, this patchwork of what makes a life, you really do shake your head, because it's very simple, it's very basic. And then you wonder yourself, what else is there that I have to be learning? And I think that's about creativity. It's exactly what you're doing now. I think it's having conversations and sharing ideas and being vulnerable and talking about important things. You can ask me anything, and I'll answer you. I am not secretive. I never really have been, but I've never been asked questions, so I'm not going to surrender information. But if you ask me, I will tell you. I'm not going to make up something. I'm not going to lie. I'm just not. And people oh, that's so brave. No, it's not. It's self preservation, so I can live with myself. But it's so great that you guys have got this friendship. It's an important one, and that you're doing this show that is so fun because you know each other, you trust each other, and you can inspire other people. It's awesome.
Wendy Mesley 00:32:30
Well, that's what we're hoping to do.
Maureen Holloway 00:32:32
We couldn't do it without you.
Jann Arden 00:32:34
Well, you could. You guys have both done such amazing things in your life, things that people could only dream of doing. That's most of the people. And when you find that perspective all the time of what you do and how slight the chances are to get through the maze and to get to that place, it's pretty incredible.
Wendy Mesley 00:32:54
Well, we have loved talking to you, Jann, because somebody who's so wise and positive about things. I mean, you said that you're not religious, but, boy, are you ever spiritual.
Jann Arden 00:33:02
I'm very spiritual. I believe in everything. Like, there's just a lot of wonder in the world. And like I said, I've just said such stupid things and made so many mistakes and so many disasters, but no matter good or bad, you're not what you did. You are what you will do. And I think we have to be more forgiving of each other. And this cancel thing, it's a thing that I hope goes away because nobody is infallible. We're just trying to figure it out, and we're going to do really stupid things. But to cancel somebody, or to have that kind of thing, social media is here to stay. It's never going away. It's just going to get different. Just going to have different names, different apps or whatever. But we can't control how other people communicate, but we can control how we communicate and how we make our way through that and what we curate. What do we want people to see in our lives, right?
Wendy Mesley 00:33:46
Well, we really want to talk to brave people and you're one of them.
Jann Arden 00:33:51
Maureen Holloway 00:33:52
A little bit off the record, I'm still recording this, but you were one of the first people to say yes. When we had nobody. Then because of that, so we've got Jann Arden, and then all of a sudden we started getting other people. Oh, well, Jann is going to do it, I'm going to do it. So it really helped because we had bit of a setback last week. We got outed. Broadcast Dialogue, the industry thing, picked up the fact that I did a podcast with Terry Damonte and I mentioned I was doing this thing with Wendy, and somehow the media got hold of it, and they took ten year old pictures of Wendy and me and said, Wendy and Maureen are doing a podcast, and then they link it to the articles about Wendy and what happened to her at the CBC when she used the N word. And then we had guests dropping out. So that's what's been happening. Not everybody has, but we've lost a few who are like, oh.
Jann Arden 00:33:52
That's what I mean about the cancel thing. It's ridiculous. And you know what? Those people did you a favor. If those are the people that are going to make a decision, there's nothing you can say or do that would stop me from speaking to you. What you do has no bearing on who I am or what I do. None. Not through association, not through anything at all. And it's unfair what they did. They did you a favor. They did you a favor. Walk on.
Wendy Mesley 00:35:08
The sad part was that a lot of these people said, this is exactly what's needed. I love you guys, I'm thrilled. I'm a woman of ill repute. I want to come on. And then their PR people would say, no, don't do it.
Jann Arden 00:35:19
I don't have people telling me what I can and cannot do.
Wendy Mesley 00:35:22
Yeah, well, thank God for people like you. Thank God for people who don't live in fear.
Jann Arden 00:35:28
I mean, it they've done you a favor. Walk on. And it's ridiculous. It's their loss. If it's that stupid of a thing. Well, I didn't do it because 47 years ago, Maureen did say that sentence. Oh, you're kidding. Yeah, she did. It was pretty bad. It was pretty bad. It's ridiculous. People are ridiculous. Forgive them. They know not what they do. Isn't that biblical? That's the only biblical thing.
Maureen Holloway 00:35:51
That's Jesus Christ himself.
Jann Arden 00:35:51
Oh, God. Jesus. Hallelujah.
Wendy Mesley 00:35:56
Is it okay to use what you just said and what Maureen just said?
Jann Arden 00:36:00
Have it on the record. These are the kinds of things- make sure you have them. And people in their everyday lives, they need to hear that, because we've all done it. We've all said it. I mean, I told them to fuck their eyesocket. Do you know what I mean? I didn't mean it literally, I said it was just a suggestion. I didn't force him to do it. I called Jason Kenny a fucking turd just like, a year before he got into office here. It's been a downhill fucking plunge ever since. But it was funny because I had to get extra security. I was on a different book tour at the time, and all these people came out of the woodwork and that I should be wiped off the face of the earth and all this stuff. Well, you might want to tell the 300 people in line for an autograph for this book. You know, they didn't get that memo. And it was just a few disgruntled white guys that- how dare you say that about Jason Kenny? I'm like, what part was offending? The fucking part or the fucking turd part? Like, is it the two words together? I didn't slander him physically. Like, I didn't say you're this or that, or your parents, or anything like that. It turns out- I've had guys now write me going like, you were right. I remember you saying that. But I was given the Canadian... The Order of Canada. I'm so sorry.
Wendy Mesley 00:37:13
Oh, that little thing?
Jann Arden 00:37:15
No no- Which I'm very proud of. And it was two weeks before I was supposed to go to the ceremony or something, or a month out. Maybe it was even longer than that. But I phoned my manager Bruce, and I said, this is what I said. I put it on a tweet. I'm not removing it. I'm not taking it down. I stand by it. And he paused for a second. He goes, Jann, that's why they're giving it to you. And it really made me laugh, because I just had people that were like, you can say what you want. I've been called so many worse things than that and take it with a grain of salt. And he's been called a hell of a lot worse now since then. The guy is not well. He shouldn't be leading a parade, never mind a province.
Wendy Mesley 00:37:55
I jumped out from behind a tree once. I was doing a story on him and some allegations of impropriety when he was immigration minister, and he wouldn't give me an interview. And so I knew he was going to a gathering of a bunch of sick people. It was an annual festival at Queen's Park. And so I hid behind a tree and I saw him coming, and I was like standing with the camera person going, okay. And the camera person was like, okay. He doesn't see me. Let's hide the camera. He doesn't see me. And then we jumped out and he was like, oh, hello, Wendy. And then, like, two years went by and I interviewed him for something else, some profound whatever, and he goes, oh, no, jumping out from behind trees, Wendy? And I guess that was sort of making up. But yeah, things haven't gone too well for him since.
Jann Arden 00:38:38
No. I don't think he's going to get the leadership. He's hoping he will, but I just don't think he will. They know they're in trouble with him. You guys are standing up for what you said, but please, that bugs me that it bugs you about people dropping out. It doesn't matter.
Maureen Holloway 00:38:50
It was just we were going gangbusters. We had a pool.
Jann Arden 00:38:53
No, I know, but it's not the people you want. If that's what the kind of rhetoric bullshit they're going to succumb to. They shouldn't be on this podcast because that's not who you want. Oh, you didn't want to come on because of that? I've done so many stupid things. So many stupid things. And I will continue to do so because I'm a person.
Wendy Mesley 00:39:11
Yeah, people are people. And you're a special one, Jann. And I'm so thrilled to see you doing really well, and that you looked after your mom and that you've got this great career and everything. You're great.
Jann Arden 00:39:23
Well, right back at you. I have a lot of fun and I work with incredible people, and we laugh all day long, and I just don't take it that seriously. There's much bigger important things in life, and I'm very grateful for living in the trees and hanging out and having an opportunity like this. And hopefully we'll help some people and they'll listen to it and go, yeah, maybe I should quit drinking or maybe I should try to write something because you don't need to be good at it. Just tell your story. Anyway, love you guys. Look after yourselves.
Wendy Mesley 00:39:53
Love you, Jann.
Jann Arden 00:39:54
Thank you. Love you, too.
Maureen Holloway 00:39:55
Thank you, Jan, so much.
Maureen Holloway 00:40:04
Wendy Mesley 00:40:04
So that was interesting. Yeah. She says she's not religious, but man, oh, man, all the stuff about people, the atoms and the clouds and- she's very deep.
Maureen Holloway 00:40:12
Yeah, I know. I have never met anybody who is so self deprecating and so hard on themselves, and yet at the same time, so forgiving of themselves. And she says she continues to bloom, never mind a late bloomer. You keep blooming until you die, ideally. So I always feel better after talking to her because she makes it seem like there's nothing that you could ever do that you can't forgive yourself for, and that you can't go on and make something out of. Well, I mean, I guess there are cases. But I'm not going to get sober, though, Wendy, it's not going to happen. Not that I'm a drunk, but I'm not going to quit drinking. Although when I talk to Jann, I'm inspired to do that. Maybe I'll try it out at some point, but I'm not in a big rush.
Wendy Mesley 00:40:50
Yeah, no, I keep telling myself that I'm going to drink more water, which I think you've tweeted about too. I'm going to drink more water, every year I tweet that or I say that to myself, and I've got a glass of water here that's been staring at me for 5 hours and I'm going to drink less wine. And then the glass of wine just looks so good. So then I might have a second one.
Maureen Holloway 00:41:07
Did say something about treating it as a reward, thinking, oh, I'll get through this and then I'll reward myself with a drink. It's probably a slippery slope.
Wendy Mesley 00:41:15
Well, yeah, just the whole idea of what you're saying about her being self deprecating, like always feeling like she wouldn't be taken seriously. I mean, like the lady's got a podcast, a TV show, songs. I don't know. We're all weird. We're just all weird, and it should all be put out there.
Maureen Holloway 00:41:33
Just starting to figure that out?
Wendy Mesley 00:41:35
Yeah. Well, I think I told you that Valerie Pringle, who was a couple of years older than us, I used to think that her life was so perfect. And then she writes about mental illness in her family, and nobody has a perfect life. Nobody gets away without things. And now we talk more about them.
Maureen Holloway 00:41:50
We talk more about them, which helps. And if you ask anybody about their family, which we've been doing with all these wonderful women that we talk about and their upbringing, is whether they were happy or sad or awful matter so much. Like, I think in your 20s you kind of get away from it. But then ultimately your relationship with your parents, their relationship with each other, it comes out. And it has such a profound effect on who you are. And it's not so much whether you let that get to you if it was a negative experience, but what you do with it. And I think the most interesting people come from the most fucked up places.
Wendy Mesley 00:42:25
You're not supposed to say that word, though. It says Greta Thunberg. She's amazing. But I still use the word too. And so does Jen. And so we can yeah, so fuck it. We're done.
Jann Arden 00:42:38
The Women of Ill Repute with Wendy Mesley and Maureen Holloway. Available on Apple podcasts spotify Google podcasts email@example.com produced and distributed by the Sound of Media Company.