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My Page: Dallas Green (City and Colour) “Mary Jo”

tazz | June 24, 2023

“Music is my mother and my father. It is my work and my rest—my blood, my compass, my love…” Jeff Buckley


I was 14 years old when I first heard Jeff Buckley sing. I had already been playing guitar for a while by then, and I’d started singing to myself in the bedroom or along to my favorite records, but never in front of anyone. Seeing the video for “Last Goodbye” changed everything in an instant. 

By that point in my life, I had developed a deep connection with music. Bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden were in my ears at all times. I was learning how to play as many songs on guitar as I could from their records and generally trying to soak up as much as possible from what I considered to be sacred texts. But then I heard Jeff’s voice. I had never felt as moved by a human voice as I was in that moment and, like many other emotional young lads at that time, I was convinced that singing was now a much larger part of my life. Or better put, I was now a singer. I just had to find the confidence to start singing in front of other people. 

Entering Catholic high school as a skateboarding, basketball-loving, guitar[1]playing weirdo who rocked long hair and braces was interesting, to say the least. We wore uniforms so, at first, it was hard to differentiate the weirdos from the straights, but it didn’t take too long. I found some like-minded pals who enjoyed grunge, metal and strange jokes. My older cousin Scap, who had taught me how to skate, had just graduated. But he told all the dudes who were still in school to look out for me, which was very much appreciated. 

Every day I would walk the halls with a Walkman and headphones, jamming to the mixtapes I had made. It was my escape mechanism from the monotony of class, which admittedly, I just wasn’t very good at—all the while continuing to dive deeper and deeper into my obsession with music and further away from anything I was being taught in school. 

By 11th grade, I had already started writing my own songs but I still hadn’t sung in front of anyone other than my family. To be honest, I couldn’t quite tell if they were telling me the truth or just pouring on that special brand of familial optimism—“Great job, Dal!” kinda shit. 

Then one day, a woman named Mary Jo Modolo, who also happened to be teaching me English, overheard me singing to myself with my headphones on after class. Now, keep in mind, everyone knew I played guitar and was a music nerd—I didn’t hide any of this. But the singing still terrified me for some reason. It’s also worth pointing out that Mrs. Modolo understood me. She was one of the good ones. She knew I had no interest in anything I was being taught but also knew enough to help shepherd me along. 

After some back and forth, Mary Jo started asking me if I wanted to sing in front of the class, to which I replied, “Absolutely not.” She started giving me the gears about getting over my fears and whatnot, but I refused to budge. Clearly recognizing that I was standing in my own way, she went ahead and booked the audio/visual room for a week from that day and told me to prepare three songs. The nerve of this woman. 

A week later, I’m pacing in front of Room 114, about to sing and play three covers for my entire class while wearing a high school uniform—super cool. I can’t quite remember, but I’m almost certain I nailed it. Later on that day, I was on the bus home, sitting beside my best friend Lynn Thompson. Lynny and I had known each other since kindergarten—we were on the same bus route but didn’t have many classes together in high school—so we were always catching up on the day’s gossip during the ride home. That day she says to me: “Somebody told me that you can sing. How have you never sang for me?” To which I probably replied, “You never asked” or something ridiculous like that. We got off the bus and walked to my house. We sat in my room, and I played and sang her a song. I looked up and she was crying. I’ll never forget that day. 

I was 16 years old when Mary Jo gave me the push to finally do the thing that was burning inside of me. I kept singing and writing and never looked back. I sang Jeff Buckley songs at coffee shops, and I started a band—then another and another. Music became my mother and my father; it was now my work and my rest. It was in my blood, and it was my compass. 

Fifteen years later, I was on tour in Europe, and I received an email from Mrs. Modolo. She and her husband Denis—who was also a teacher—had retired and they were traveling through Italy, where I happened to be playing in a week. And they were coming to the gig.

That night in Cesena, Italy, at Teatro Alessandro Bonci, I sang in front of Mary Jo and a thousand strangers. And I told this story. 


Dallas Green records under the name City and Colour. He released his latest album, The Love Still Held Me Near in March via Still Records/Dine Alone Records

The post My Page: Dallas Green (City and Colour) “Mary Jo” appeared first on Relix Media.

Written by tazz

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