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Hiring a publicist, going viral and a death threat: Singing city councillor ‘overwhelmed’ by response to Crybabies Caravan

'We also live in a culture where people seem to feel the freedom of social media to say things that they might not say to you in person'
20220210 James Gordon Crybabies Caravan
James Gordon performs "Crybabies Caravan" during a Facebook Live video.

As a Canadian folk musician, James Gordon is typically “delighted” when one of his songs reaches 1,000 streams. However, his latest releases have garnered far more than that after one of them seemingly “struck a chord” with people who take issue with anti-vaccine mandate protests in Ottawa and elsewhere across the country.

“I don’t think it’s my best song, but it’s the biggest response I’ve ever had,” he said of Crybabies Caravan, for which he posted a live performance on his Facebook page on Feb. 10. “It has been an intense experience.”

Since being posted, the Facebook video has been viewed more than 224,000 times and garnered nearly 3,000 comments as of noon on Wednesday. It’s also been posted to YouTube, along with a version with a band, where it’s been collectively seen more than 25,000 times.

“That number’s hard for me to comprehend,” Gordon said. “It’s exhilarating but overwhelming at the same time.”

The song features lyrics like, “Beating of the privileged chest. Inconvenience isn’t being oppressed,” and “Walk with Nazis, you’re a Nazi too. Don’t give me that line that it’s just a few. If you’re OK to hang out with that crew, I’m sorry but I’m not OK with you.”

In response to the spike in interest, Gordon said he’s hired a publicist to help him handle various requests for interviews, help coordinate radio airplay and more. Those plans are currently being drawn up, he added.

“The record label that I was on for 20 years got sold and the new label was only interested in my back catalogue,” Gordon, who also serves as an elected representative on city council, explained. “I’m kind of an independent artist now.

“Because it’s unprecedented, I didn’t know how to manage it all.”

While there’s been a mixed bag of response to the song, many of the thousands of social media posts about it have been supportive. One of the most often repeated comments is that Gordon’s song says what commenters were thinking.

“It’s been quite moving to see. It’s just a little song for crying out loud but people have used it as a forum for discussion,” Gordon said of the social media reactions. 

“There’s negative comments too,” he added, noting those include a death threat. “It’s hard to know these days how seriously to take those things. … We also live in a culture where people seem to feel the freedom of social media to say things that they might not say to you in person.

“I reported him to Facebook.”

Gordon has also been accused of sowing the seeds of divisiveness between those who support the anti-vaccine mandate protests and those who don't.

No matter where people stand on the issue, Gordon said he’s pleased his song has contributed to discussion. 

On Monday, he posted a “sequel” song video on YouTube. That track is known as Bouncy Castles and has been viewed 1,200 times as of Wednesday at noon.

Gordon said he was inspired to write the second song by folks who suggested he write something from the protesters’ perspective.

“It’s not the perspective they were hoping for,” he chuckled. “It’s just meant to be tongue-in-cheek.”

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Richard Vivian

About the Author: Richard Vivian

Richard Vivian is an award-winning journalist and longtime Guelph resident. He joined the GuelphToday team as assistant editor in 2020, largely covering municipal matters and general assignment duties
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