Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson


What would you do if you knew in an instant Your breath could be taken away? Would it change the way you measure success, would you say all you wanted to say? Songwriting and performing is a vehicle to say all there is to say and appreciate that there are people listening and enjoying the music.


Shirley Jackson has been a featured performer on the blues and roots scene throughout Canada and the United States over the course of her career. Settling in the Maritimes from Western Canada in 1988, Shirley Jackson has been developing as a songwriter and honing her craft on stage with The Good Rockin’ Daddys and The SideCats as well as sharing stages with The Dutch Mason Blues Band, Joe Murphy & The Waterstreet Blues Band, A.J. & The Redhots, Theresa Malenfant, Frank Mackay & The Lincolns, Glamour Puss Blues Band, Tracy Nelson and the annual “Ladies in Blue” concert in Halifax.

As the story goes...

“Listen to your heartbeat, Listen to your soul
And know deep inside that’s where you truly want to go”

Children know at a very young age what it is they want to be and do but are discouraged from being dreamers. “What do you want to be when you grow up”, they ask. But in your knowing heart that you want to be a singer, songwriter, musician and the response is, “That’s nice but what are you going to do to make a living?”

My first music teacher was kicked out of music class because his teacher told him he couldn’t sing. He proved her wrong by learning how to play any instrument that had strings on it; guitar, banjo, mandolin. He gave my two sisters and I guitar lessons when I was nine, and my brother banjo lessons for a gallon of milk a week. In fact he hand crafted our first electric guitars and built my brothers banjo out of a brake drum. Definitely a banjo to sit and play. I have great memories of my father playing his lap steel guitar and harmonica and my mother always encouraged us to sing by entering us in the local talent shows. At the age of ten we had our first family band covering everything from The Tennessee Waltz to The Ventures performing at the local country dances.

On Stage Fright:

I tell the following story to my students when they experience stage fright from performing or being in front of an audience. I remember one show in particular when I was singing that my voice cracked into the microphone and I said, “Oh Shit”, which lead to the audience cracking up. I thought that full auditorium was laughing at me instead of the fact that a 10 year would say “shit” into the mic. I let that particular incident prevent myself from singing again for almost ten years.

Everyone wants to be a Drummer:

Music magazines, childhood visions of being a singer, musician, songwriter practicing in front of that imaginary audience, writing songs and reading music magazines resulted in getting expelled from math class and spending contemplative hours under “the clock” outside the Principal’s office. I had my mind made up I’d be a drummer. I had a drummer friend who gave me lessons and let me practice in his house all day when he went to work which lead me to enrolling as a percussion student at The Red Deer College School of Music.

The Beginning of Folk, Rock & Blues:

I find myself the singer in the ‘Bird Blues Band’ in Alberta covering blues standards to The Doors to Jethro Tull, playing drums in a rock band called “Chain Gang’ covering originals and Bonnie Raitt & Heart tunes, and guitar and percussion in a Folk Blues Band called ‘The Briar Rose Heavy Wood Band’.

The East Coast:

A place and people to fall in love with. Blues venues, great blues musicians and as a drummer playing with Phil Potvin in the Powerhouse Blues Band at The Pub Flamingo. As fate has a way of providing opportunities I ended up enrolling in Dalhousie University to complete my Music of Ed degree under the direction of Don Palmer and master percussionist Jim Faraday. The Good Rockin’ Daddys were formed out of the next few years playing with a variety of great musicians.

Change of Scene:

Teaching in a private school in California seemed like a good ticket to check out the West Coast music scene. San Francisco, California 2001. The Saloon, The Ivy Room, Biscuit & Blues, The Blue Lamp, The Sweetwater, Rancho Nicasio were the places to be and hear some of the best. Junior Watson at The Ivy Room, R.J. Mischo at the Blue Lamp, Little Charlie & The NightCats at The Sweetwater, Terry Hanck at Rancho Nicasio, Johnny Nitro & The Door Slammers at The Saloon. Sitting at the Saloon one day it was very interesting to hear our GRD cd playing in the bar. More opportunities to play with some great musicians such Snooky Flowers, (Janis Joplin’s original horn player) invited to play two years in a row at The Brown Street Bash in Santa Rosa.

Back to The East Coast.

Back in Nova Scotia, after 9/11. There is no place like home. Coming to the realization that life is where you make it happen and it was a good move to be back on the East Coast. With the Release of ‘Careful What You Ask For’ in 2001 The GRD were nominated for a ECMA and came the opportunity to do festival gigs with Dutch Mason, Theresa Malenfant, Rick Jefferys, Joe Murphy, AJ & The Redhots, a summer tour with Glamour Puss to Quebec lead the way for



Written By: Shirley Jackson

I always thought that family
Would stand tall like those old oak trees
And I believed that friends would be
Standing by me faithfully.
Oh what did I do; what did I say
To make you turn and walk away?

I believed that you and me
Would be together for eternity.
If I could make one dream come true
I’d turn back the time just to be with you.
Oh what did I do, what did I say
To make you turn and walk away?

I believed in Peter Pans
And how Cinderellas always got their man.
My sweetheart was that man in the moon
As I wished upon stars that never came true.
Oh what did I do; what did I say
To make you walk away?
Oh what did I do, what did I say
To make you turn and walk away.


Written By: Shirley Jackson

Words & Music by Shirley Jackson ©socan

What would you do when you know it’s over,
Would you live each moment each day?
What would you do when you get that news,
Do you give up or kneel down and pray?

How do you look at all those things around you,
Do you feel joy do you feel pain?
Take things for granted until they’re all gone
Or do you give with nothing to gain.

How do you view your past and your present,
Is it precious or fill you with pain?
How do you gage just what has meaning,
Were you searching for fortune or fame?


How to explain a lifetime of choices,
Are you proud of what you became?
Do you accept that’s the way things are,
Are you looking for something to blame?

What would you do if you knew in an instant
Your breathe could be taken away?
Would if change the way you measure success,
Would you say all you wanted to say?


Written By: Shirley Jackson

Socan March 2006

Brother don’t you worry
Sister don’t you cry
I won’t be gone so very long
And I’ll see you bye and bye.

Father will you be waiting
On the other side
Mother with your whisper
Won’t you be my guide.

(Flute solo)

Don’t think it’s the finish
At the end of a race
It’s just a new beginning
Of a brand new place.

Little girl don’t be frightened
And daughter don’t you weep.
There’ll be some one watching over you
Every night you sleep.

(Vocal interlude to end)


Shirley Jackson was awarded a Toronto Maple Blues Award in 2003 for Horn Player of the Year.

Shirley Jackson & Her Good Rockin' Daddys
'Comfort Food' - 2007 - Independent
Nominated for Blues Recording of the Year 2008, by East Coast Music Awards
Nominated for Blues Recording of the Year 2007, by Music Nova Scotia

Various Artists Compilation
'Blues, Brews, & Barbeque's Festival' - 2005 - Independent
Compiled by the Kitchener Blues Festival
song appearing on compilation
'Don't Come Around Here'

The SideCats
Live At Yankeetown Studios - 2005 - Independent

Various Artists Compilation
'Blues From The East Coast' - 2005 - Independent
For the Red Cross Tsunami Relief Fund
song appearing on compilation
'Three Things Worth Doin''

Shirley Jackson & Her Good Rockin' Daddys
'Careful What Your Ask For' - 2001 - Independent
Nominated for ECMA Blues Album 2003

Set List

All Songs Written By Shirley Jackson:

A Drop Of Water
Before It's Over
Blanket of Love
Say A Prayer
River Of Dust
Going Back To California
Can You Hear Me
Cardiac Arrest
Careful What You Ask For
Cleanse My Soul
Comfort Food
Don't Come Around Here
Fish On A Hook
Foolish Pride
I Believed
I Feel For You
Is It Fate
Losin' Faith
Million Dollar Heart
No Compromise
On The Other Side
One Way Thinking
Over A Lifetime
Roll & Tumble
The Coffee Song/Bean Me Up
Things Could Be Worse
Three Things Worth Doin'
Voodoo Remedy
Who Do you Think You Are
Easy Honkin'