Last Friday I saw a copy of ‘Beautiful Scars’ on my boss’s desk. I said, “It’s here! I’ve been waiting for Tom Wilson’s book to come out for a few months. I interviewed him a couple of times when Junkhouse or Blackie and the Rodeo Kings came through Ottawa. Nice guy. He came here once in the winter with this crazy long brown fur coat, full beard and really wild hair. He was nice even though he seemed a little hard to read at first glance, even a little intimidating.”
She loaned me the book, but now I don’t want to give it back. I might need it to read again.
That doesn’t happen often, that I love a book so much that I read it in 36 hours, that I laugh out loud and then when it’s finished, I’m left with a feeling of happiness and satisfaction that all is now right in the world. I feel like it is, at least in the world of Tom Wilson.
‘Beautiful Scars’ was a beautiful read, compelling and unexpectedly funny at times. I meant it when I said that I couldn’t put it down. It’s a page flipping auto biography that music fans and misfits will devour.
I read ‘Beautiful Scars’ after coming home from the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Canadian War Museum, which made meeting George Wilson on the pages of ‘Beautiful Scars’ that much more poignant and my heart ached for his sacrifice. He was Tom’s father, who lost his vision in the war at the age of 30. Tom Wilson also paints a vivid picture of his mother Bunny, who sprang to life from the pages, with her passion for spying on mobster neighbours, 5 finger discounts and her loyalty, be it to her husband or to the misconceived but well intentioned guarding of secrets meant to make Tom’s life easier.
Tom shares raw stories of his childhood with humour not shame, and takes us on the road with his bands where we meet a few rounders and hangers on along highway 6 and along the 401. It’s story about discovery, acceptance and forgiveness, so no wonder it has inspired new music.
There’s a new album with the same name, Beautiful Scars.
I love that this book weaves the Canadian music scene, his gritty, blue collar Hamilton and how it all shaped the life of Tom Wilson, and it wasn’t an easy, privileged ride. While most of the story takes place in Steeltown, there is a trip to Los Angeles and one to New Orleans where Tom stayed with fellow Hamiltonian musician friend, U2 producer Daniel Lanois.
It’s a great pick. A book that will cause you to lose track of time. The ending isn’t really a surprise, but leaves you feeling good because Tom can finally tick all of the boxes and everyone deserves to do that, to know where they came from.
This is sure to warm you up on a cold, January night. Go here for tickets and more info:
Three-time Juno Award winning Canadian musician Tom Wilson teams up with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra for a special one-night-only, multi-disciplinary literary and musical event. In conjunction with the release of his memoir, Beautiful Scars, Tom uses words and music to tell the story of his search for identity, and of a family history of carefully guarded secrets and profound acts of forgiveness.
Tom Wilson’s passion for Hamilton’s contribution to music is alive and well in this video where he uses his amazing way with words to paint a picture of the city he loves and the people who put it on the musical map.