John was born in Hamilton, Ontario but grew up in Ottawa and Montreal before moving to Los Angeles, California for 20 years to pursue his musical career. The Toronto Star said of him, “Cody is not a household name. But you’ve heard him even if you haven’t heard of him.”
John co-wrote the song, “The Secret is to Know When to Stop” with Tom Cochrane for Tom’s 1991 album Mad Mad World. John also did the backup vocals on the album, including on “Life is a Highway“, and was part of Tom’s touring band for the record. Tom and his wife Kathy became big supporters of his career.
John also co-wrote the title track, “The Fundamental Things” for Bonnie Raitt’s album Fundamental, as well as songs for Cher, Holly Cole, Sharon Stone, and Lynn Miles, among other artists. John has also performed and recorded with such luminaries as Joni Mitchell, Van Dyke Parks, Siedah Garrett (and wrote her song, “No One’s Fool”), Grace Jones, Jennifer Warnes, and Eric Idle. John’s catalogue of songs includes co-writes with Keith Urban, John Capek, Christopher Ward and many others.
See? You may not have heard of him, but you have definitely heard him.
John’s solo career has seen the release of albums: Zelig Belmondo (called the most underrated album of the 90s by a U.S critic), Darkness Visible, Painful Righteous Bliss, and Hard Won (also a documentary). John’s latest release, The Poetry of Drunks, which he produced, arranged, played on and engineered, was co-written with Grammy-nominated Perla Battala, who is featured on vocals with John. It will be released in late 2022.
This is made all the more remarkable by the health challenges John has faced over the years: colon cancer, a severe degenerative auto-immune disease and, most devastating, the loss of his larynx 5 years ago. Despite the heartbreaking loss of his beautiful voice, John has continued to write music and even sing.
The last word on John goes to fellow composer, co-producer and two-time Grammy Award winning producer Larry Klein:
“John Cody is a serious writer. John Cody is not the flavor of the month. John Cody is the black, white, and grays borne of pain and rich experience. John Cody is not the simple-minded clarity of youthful naivete. John Cody is looking into a dark room for long enough so that one’s eyes adjust to the darkness and one can discern the subtle graduations of color and hue. John Cody is not radio friendly homilies. John Cody is Nat ‘King’ Cole, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Prince braided in with Charles Bukowski. John Cody is not whatever you were listening to on the radio before you turned it off. Listen to John Cody.”
Below is “The Great Divide”, a song John wrote upon the sentencing of his abuser, sung with Perla Battala. So yes, listen to John.
READ OUR ANALYSIS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
They told me when I had to write this to focus on myself and not you and yet I found that all I wanted to do was ask you questions. I don’t generally find writing hard, but this is hard to write about because of all the emotions and memories this evokes. Lots of really bad feelings, confusion, self-loathing, not just low self-esteem either, lower than low. The low underneath the lowest depths of low. It’s somewhere in there right next to your actions, impulses, and behaviors.
Somewhere mixed up with the bad clothes, cheap cologne, and unsophisticated observations on the significance of the language of music.
The magic and miracle of it somehow suffocated by those trembling hands of yours, inexorably and sweatily immersed in the objective of snuffing out innocence. Mine but not just mine, as it turns out.
In exchange for what I wonder? Frankly, I’m not sure I want to know and I’m not sure I NEED to know. It’s just not part of my consciousness although it almost was. Because of the nature of an action that is against the natural order of a young man’s awakening both, spiritual and sexual in this case, there is a tear made in the holistic and total sum of what a healthy and human experience can be. The hole that is left, when especially unattended, has an opportunity to grow and fester and the potential to turn a kid into a cauldron of unbeknownst seething emotions is very high indeed.
Robbing someone of their potential by quashing the dignity, integrity, and balance we want our young people to attain and embrace comfortably and knowingly with love and confidence. Teachers are stewards of the young. There to protect and nourish and not rapists of the mind and flesh.
The statistics tell us what sexual abuse is likely to promote in a young person later on down the road. Promiscuity, a lack of self protection in all kinds of areas, a general malaise laced with rage, crippling anxiety and depression, a predisposition towards illnesses, obesity, alcoholism, drug addiction, suicidal tendencies, etc....
Just because someone in a position of sacred trust needs to get their kicks?
Well, in the words of Bob Dylan, You’ve got a lot of nerve.
What does all of this do to a child?
I speak only for myself.
I have struggled with a debilitating anxiety my whole life. I was once diagnosed with acute chronic anxiety and medicated as such for years. I have gone on and off meds for over 30 years. I have missed any number of business meetings and functions because I was too scared to leave my house. I’ve travelled from coast to coast for my work and then found it too difficult to get on the freeway in whatever city I ended up in because I was terrified of what harm might come to me. At times I haven’t been able to get on planes, or elevators, and even escalators because of fear. At different times in my life, I couldn’t even bathe. I’ve learned that is a way to keep people away from me so I wouldn’t get abused again. This is irrational fear that results from irrational things being done and said to me by a predator who thinks HE’S rational. Now I can’t bathe without help. I can’t even wipe myself. For years I wouldn’t even let myself be loved and I couldn’t really trust a man further than I could chuck a piano. Then I met the man I married. Wow! Bliss! Until I came to know that he was bipolar and paranoid schizophrenic. The untreated kind. The violent kind. The kind that went to jail for beating me and multiple mental institutions before and after that.
THAT’S what happens when you pile all of this crap on a young innocent as far as I can tell. Or at the very least you open the door to it....
I resent having to go through all of this all over again. I can’t stand having to think about what happened way back then and right now having to be reminded of it every day. To have to see your face in my mind peering at me through the window of that practice room and your office that looked out on our class. Smelling those old hallways in my imagination as you leer and lurk about, as you once did. Snaking around on brass like mouthpiece spit. Innuendo after innuendo, suggestive lascivious comments with a smirk and a numbing pit in my stomach. How to get away, how to get away I’d ask myself.
I didn’t come here to hurt you, but I also didn’t come here to hurt myself more either. In fact, I don’t believe any of this had anything to do with ME. I was just a symbol of something to toy with. I was nothing more than a living representation of an aesthetic to be shaped into an object of desire and disgust. To be thrown away after a half-assed climax.
I told my older brother about this when I was a teenager, and I was astounded at his insight into the matter. He was the only student to ever conduct one of your stage bands. He died in 2002 on Valentine’s Day and I sure do miss him. I wish he were around now so I could talk to him about this, but he’s gone.
And now I just need this to end. I’m tired. I’m sick.
This all just makes me more tired and more sick, but I have folks waiting for me now. I didn’t then but I do now. My time here is limited, in this city, in this country, on this earth, and this horrible mess we see before us doesn’t deserve another minute of my precious time.
Thank you and good day.
The Great Divide featuring John Cody and Perla Battala