Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Carl Dixon

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Carl Dixon

Carl Dixon has been a member of some of the most iconic bands around, including The Guess Who and April Wine, getting his start as the lead singer of Canadian hard rockers Coney Hatch. It was a long and unexpected journey for a boy from Northern Ontario, and it took Carl around the world, sharing stages, and often friendships, with rock's greatest legends.

It was an experience off stage, however, that left the most lasting impact — a near-death car crash in Australia put Carl in a coma. When he recovered, he began to make speaking appearances, inspiring others with his wild and rollicking life story. His musical and personal journey is now recorded in Strange Way to Live: A Story of Rock ‘n’ Roll Resurrection (Dundurn Press).

We're thrilled to welcome Carl to Open Book today to take our version of the Proust Questionnaire. The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.

Carl tells us about his favourite writers, what his fridge has in common with a Blue Rodeo lyric and his awesome personal motto.
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What is your dream of happiness?

My dream of happiness is to wake every day next to my love Helen and go for a swim in the lake, then bustle off to some place where people want to hear my songs or my words.

What is your idea of misery?

Waking up alone, far from home, with no place to sing, write or speak.

Where would you like to live?

I love my home in Haliburton, but Iceland is also a place I loved being.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

Intelligence, wit, nurturing, loyalty, leadership, skating ability

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

Intelligence, wit, nurturing, loyalty, leadership, beauty, skating ability

What is your chief characteristic?

Determination.

What is your principal fault?

Blind determination.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Used to be records; I don’t think I have one now.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

Drunkenness, stupidity, forgetfulness; who among us hasn’t been there?

What do you value most about your friends?

The loyalty and love they inexplicably show me over the years, and the laughs that only come about through shared history.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

Untrustworthiness.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?

Impulsivity.

What is your favourite virtue?

Commitment. I believe all good in human relationships flows from it.

What is your favourite occupation?

The one I’ve plied for many years; singer, musician, writer, performer.

What would you like to be?

A teacher or coach.

What is your favourite colour?

Probably sky blue, although I wear orange more than most people.

What is your favourite flower?

Whatever is growing in my yard this month.

What is your favourite bird?

The stork who delivers Dumbo (see above; drunken, stupid, forgetful).

What historical figure do you admire the most?

Winston Spencer Churchill; Depressive but magnificent at rising to the occasion.

What character in history do you most dislike?

Wow. There are so many bad ones, it’s hard to choose. Maybe Uncle Joe Stalin. Him or the guy who invented time travel. I feel so lost some days.

Who are your favourite prose authors?

Mostly bygones, I’m afraid. Dickens, Robertson Davies, Mordecai Richler, John LeCarre, Kingsley Amis (for Lucky Jim), Edith Nesbit. There must be some living ones too.

Who are your favourite poets?

Does Ian Anderson count? Oh, and Shakespeare.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?

Jim Dixon, George Smiley, Magnus Eisengrim.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My dad, Ron Dixon, my mom, Marje (Magi) Dixon and my Grandma Hella Jaason Magi.

Who is your favourite painter?

Cornelius Krieghoff and my Dad.

Who is your favourite musician?

I’d like to say me but that might seem vain. F—k it. ME.

What is your favourite food?

Whatever I cook up from the fridge contents. It’s never the same way twice.

What is your favourite drink?

Currently, coffee or Two Oceans white wine.

What are your favourite names?

How about, Helen, Carlin, Lauren, Kristen and Josie?

What is it you most dislike?

As separate from all the dislike categories above? Okay, ummm; I MOST dislike almost being separated from my life on dark highways in Australia.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

If being smart with money is a natural talent then I could use more of that. I’ve already got the ones I want.

How do you want to die?

Free of the need for self-exploration.

What is your current state of mind?

Self-exploratory.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Persisting through many difficulties to get where I am today.

What is your motto?

“Happiness is for the brave.”


Singer-songwriter Carl Dixon was a member of popular bands The Guess Who, April Wine and Coney Hatch. Dixon survived a life-threatening car crash but renewed his musical career and is also now a successful motivational speaker. He lives in Haliburton, Ontario.

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