Where I Belong by Alan Doyle

A biography selection by Jean-Louis

Doubleday Canada, 2014

So I was selecting biographies for purchase this week and ran across the announcement for a new biography by Alan Doyle, front man for Great Big Sea. I was surprised because I thought his book was already out–but I was thinking about his first book, Where I Belong: Small Town to Great Big Sea which was from 2014! Time flies when you can’t keep[ up to the books you want to read.

Where I Belong is very much grounded in the Newfoundland town of Petty Harbour. Doyle “belongs” to Petty Harbour and it is the spiritual and musical bedrock upon which he has built his career. His musical upbringing was organic and foundational to not only young Alan, but also to the entire Doyle clan. With a father and uncles playing in bands and a Mom playing the piano and church organ, young Alan grew into the music business quite naturally.

The book is filled with an open-hearted celebration of his upbringing. To an outsider, or ‘one from away’, the Doyle upbringing may have appeared hard scrabble but Alan never presents it that way. What their house lacked in comforts or plumbing, their home made up for in love, food, music, and family. It seems that Alan Doyle would not change a thing about his young life.

We meet a whole town of characters in the book as Doyle presents wonderful descriptions of his fellow cod tongue harvesters, tough as the ocean fishermen, wise and caring wharf masters, generous music teachers, and creative types of all sorts. All of his exploits lead young Alan to form his first bands and to move out into the world of music. The first book takes us to the point where he meets the band mates who will form the Great Big Sea. I can’t wait to read the next book (releases on October 17, 2017).

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