If someone has written a better drinking song than Spirit of the West’s Home for a Rest, I haven’t heard it. While in the U.K., frontman John Mann and guitarist Geoffrey Kelly documented a rather intense crawl of pubs and other establishments over the course of a week.
You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not at my best
I’ve been gone for a week, I’ve been drunk since I left
These so-called vacations will soon be my death
I’m so sick from the drink, I need home for a rest.
The song originally appeared on Spirit of the West’s 1990 album, Save This House, and has since become the classic Canadian drinking song. Most musicians only dream of writing a song that spans generations. I’m pretty sire an ability to recite the lyrics is part of the citizenship test.
Things have not been going well for John over the last decade. In 2009, he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer but was able to overcome it. By 2011, he was cancer-free.
But then he noticed that he was having more trouble remembering things. He’d been experiencing minor lapses as far back as 2001 but they seemed to be getting worse. Song lyrics were forgotten. Familiar guitar chord changes were lost. The memory issues got worse during his cancer treatments but his doctors thought they’d go away once the cancer was eradicated.
They didn’t. In fact, they got worse.
In September 2014, John and his wife, playwright Jill Daum, decided to go public with John’s condition. Barely into his 50s, he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, an incurable degeneration of cognitive functions. With the time John has left, he and Jill want to do what they can about raising awareness of a disease that’s going to become more prevalent as the population ages.
John can still perform, but he needs help. Lyrics are on an iPad. He has someone with him to guide him through the performance. But Spirit of the West recognizes that the time has come to bring the band’s career to a gracious close. A couple of farewell shows have been set for the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on April 15 and 16.
Meanwhile, John and Jill are not giving up. Having exhausted every possible treatment, they are now turning to experimental and very expensive stem cell therapy. One course of treatment can cost up to $50, 000. If you’re interested in helping out, you can donate at Generosity.com.