Cameron McGill

Cameron McGill


Have you ever seen Don't Look Back? Ok, well, it's not like that, but I do love the idea of The Beatles watching Bob Dylan at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965. That idea has a sound.


Cameron McGill; n. (so'lo', solo, so-low)

Born in 1877 in Calw, on the edge of the Black Forest, Cameron McGill was brought up in a missionary household where it was assumed that he would study for the ministry. McGill's religious crisis (which is often recorded in his songs) led to his fleeing from the Maulbronn seminary in 1891, an unsuccessful cure by a well-known theologian and faith healer, and an attempted suicide. After being expelled from high school, he worked in bookshops for several years--a usual occupation for budding Chicago songwriters.

His first album, Stories of The Knife and The Back (2004), describes a youth who leaves his mountain village to become a poet. The lush instrumentation and beautifully crafted melodies, belie the dark nature of the song content. Mostly focusing on personal admissions of guilt and failure, the album's characters struggle with coming to terms with mortality. All throughout, they simply try to find a friend and fall in love.

This was followed by Street Ballads & Murderesques (2006), the tale of a schoolboy totally out of touch with his contemporaries, who flees through different cities after his escape from home. The collection of songs on Streets ...takes pop music to the dark libraries of your old house, inhabits a stark and desperate corner of the mind, and simply tells a good story. The wildly vibrant characters offer their most honest interpretations of their understanding of life. They travel time, they fall in and out of love, they miss and are missed. These are songs of imminent regret, class IV rapids, European gypsies, pre-renaissance Germany, cities with chips on their shoulder, veterans of domestic war, handwritten letters and handmade harmony, foreign wines and local girls, break-ups and breakdowns, and post-war divorcees.

World War I came as a terrific shock, and McGill joined the pacifist Romain Rolland in antiwar activities--not only writing antiwar songs, but editing two newspapers for prisoners of war. During this period, McGill's first marriage broke up (reflected in "It's Not Right" off of Street Ballads & Murderesques ), he studied the works of Freud, eventually underwent analysis with Jung, and was for a time a patient in a sanatorium.

In 1919 he moved permanently to Switzerland, and brought out Cameron McGill and What Army, which reflects his preoccupation with the workings of the subconscious and with battles against depression...but mostly focuses on learning how to have fun. His forthcoming works, The Company of Great Thieves EP is slated to appear in May of 2006, followed in September by the Hold On Beauty EP. He never won the Nobel Prize, but his mother always loved him. Until his death in 2056, he lived in seclusion in Illinois.

Recent Dates and Appearances:

• Lollapalooza and Summerfest 2006
• 11 date tour in May of 2006 including opening slot for Ben Kweller, 18 date tour in March of 2005
• Three well-attended 2007 shows at SXSW, CMJ showcase in 2005 at Arlene’s Grocery
• Successful February 2005 residency at Schuba’s in Chicago
• Appearances with Rachael Yamagata on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, Tonight Show with Jay Leno
• National tour with Rachael Yamagata as she opened for Liz Phair in March/April of 2004
• Opened 3 sold out shows for Rachael Yamagata at the Hotel Café in LA in July 2004
• Opened national tour in September/October 2004 for Rachael Yamagata and Tom McRae

Radio Airplay:

• Spent three weeks in Oct. and Nov. 2005 in XM Unsigned’s top 20 most spins and two at number four
• Generous support and on-air interviews from both Richard Milne (WXRT) and Chris Payne (Q101) for his CD release show in 2003 and Schuba’s residency in February 2005
• Recent on-air performances for WXRT (Chicago), WPGU (Champaign), WEFT (Champaign), WPCD (Champaign)
• Spins on WXRT (Chicago), Q101 (Chicago), WLUW (Chicago), WRDP (Chicago), 107.1 The Planet (Champaign), WBEZ (Chicago)
• Featured and interviewed on Chicago’s Fearless Radio in October of 2005 and March 2006


• Received honorable mention in American Songwriter Magazine’s lyric contest for “When it Could Hurry” in the Nov./Dec. issue and for “Birmingham” in the Jan./Feb. issue
• Winner of 2005 Acoustic Live songwriting competition
• Recent press in: American Songwriter, Time Out NY, Harp, Country Music Today, Hub Weekly, Innocent Words, Performing Songwriter, Playback STL, Hyperactive Music Magazine, Splendid
• Has appeared with: Damien Rice, Ian McCulloch, John Stirratt from Wilco, The Autumn Defense, Butch Walker, Ours, Jesse Malin, Tom McRae, James McMurtry
• Part of the ASCAP/Heineken Emerging Artists Promotion Summer 2004
• Took part in a co-writing venture with Rondor Music in May of 2005

Press Quotes:

“Either I’m a terrible music writer or Cameron McGill is simply an exceptional, unparalleled artist. Let’s go with the latter.” – Abby


Sold The Rest

Written By: Cameron McGill

I was alone when it broke
My nerves for the town by the roads that I’ve walked
My patience outlined in chalk
Tell me for not

Homesick at home when you called
To tell me that you were taking off
I said good luck but I was so jealous of you
What else could I do?

Here I am again face down on the table
A place is set, I placed my bets
And sold the rest

Please won’t you be careful kids
The world’s full of monsters it is
They’ll leave your bed and become your friends instead
They’re closer to you then
So I left them all one night, and my minimum wage prize fight
I was wrong, the world ain’t bigger than a song
So please sing along

Here I am again face down on your table
My place is set, I placed my bets
That I’d reach to you my love when I’s able
Cause my ways are set and I lost my bets
And sold the rest

It was dimes that we were spending and it’s dimes we need right now
Our fortunes were never ending, fortunes tied to hell somehow
But the devil has god’s sweat on his brow

Here I am again face down on his table
My place is set, I placed my bets
That I’d reach to you my love when I’s able
My ways are set and I lost my bets
Here I am again face down on the table
My place is set and I placed my bets
And sold the rest

Lose Americans

Written By: Cameron McGill

The disco ball was on the light was off darkness twirled
Then moved away to other countries with some girl.
They hid behind chairs, musical and non-musical
And broke promises to parents who’d accuse them all
Folk singers that they’d gone and lost their way

Hey America how does it feel to lose Americans that way?

Generic is the crime of the century
The last great serial killer runs free
While you spend your billions on boys and girls clubs abroad
Give ‘em guns and orders doomed and blame it on god
They’re kinda like a phantom limb on your family tree today

Hey America how does it feel to lose Americans that way?

So read me the rights, the ones that I have left
Don’t leave me in the middle of the road to get hit
Cause they can pick you up or they can take you down
When you’re living up on high ground in low town
That’s where we are

Hey America how does it feel to rust?
You swing on the hinge, break at the seams and do what you must
To loosen your belt and swell at the waist
And waste most everything that gets in your way.
I sing songs in the people’s key, but the key it just won’t turn
Simple songs that were difficult and deemed impractical to learn
Well I once was arrested in your concept parade
Hey America how does it feel to lose Americans that way?
Hey America how does it feel to lose it, to lose it?
Hey America how does it feel to lose Americans that way?

Dishonest Man

Written By: Cameron McGill

Mama I’m a dishonest man
I’ve got a passion for the right things in the wrong hands
I love you but I turn my back and walk
Which is okay if I were carrying you but terrible if you just want to talk

Mama I’m an unsaved man
I’ve got beliefs my heart wants but no way I can
I love you but I close my eyes and ears
Which is okay when you’re younger but unsettling when you’re getting on in years

Mama I’m a dangerous man
I’ve got too much idle time on my busy hands
I love you but I got this death wish tonight and it goes like this
It’s okay if you save someone but really bad if you don’t ever want to die
And I don’t ever want to die

You tell me I’m distant
Selfish in my addiction to song
I know you’re right believe mama I’d rather have you wrong.

Mama I’m a lonesome man
I got this wife and kid blueprint in my imagination
I love them so much but I don’t see them anymore
Which is okay if someone’s waiting for me, but really bad cause I ain’t got nowhere to go
I love you but I turn my back and walk
Which is okay if I were carrying you but terrible cause you just wanted to talk
You’ve always wanted to talk
I never wanted to talk
Guess a mute can’t talk


Stories of The Knife and The Back released on Post-Important Records in November 2003.

Street Ballads and Murderesques release in January 2006 on Post-Important Records.

Two LP's scheduled for release in October of 2007.