Music Article

EW puts Ron Sexsmith to work

The singer-songwriter spends the day delivering packages for the magazine

Henry Miller once called it ''the lowest job in the world,'' but singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith, whose heartbreaking folk-pop has been melting converts for the last decade, has never regretted spending six years as a messenger for a Canadian courier service. In fact, Sexsmith -- who recently released his seventh album, Retriever -- admits it was a very suitable gig, allowing him the freedom to dream up songs. So when EW offered him a messenger-for-a-day job for our New York office, he immediately agreed, saying ''I still enjoy walking.'' (He also dug that the writer accompanying him used to be a messenger.)

Sexsmith, 40, shows up at EW on April 19 and is given three packages to deliver. ''It's just like old times,'' he says as we hit the streets. ''I sort of miss this.''

On the way to our first stop -- a magazine office on West 57th Street -- a fan recognizes him and runs up to shake his hand. ''That hardly ever happens,'' says Sexsmith, who hasn't had to work a day job for the better part of a decade. ''It's nice just to be able to write songs full-time,'' he says. ''But I still need to walk a lot to write.'' He currently has three songs on the soundtrack to the indie Irish gem Intermission and has composed five new tunes for this month's A Slipping-Down Life, a drama starring Lili Taylor and Guy Pearce. ''I won't be singing them in the movie, though,'' he says. ''Guy Pearce plays a singer, so he'll [handle the vocals].''

The first delivery made, Sexsmith and I hop the subway to return some negatives to a photographer. On the way, the Toronto troubadour muses on fate and how, if Elvis Costello hadn't publicly praised Sexsmith's first album back in '95, he might yet be a full-time courier. ''I wasn't on the radio, you couldn't find my album in stores, and people at my first label [Interscope] didn't like the record,'' he says. ''So when Elvis started talking me up, it saved my career.''

Last stop: a residence on the Upper West Side. No one is home, and the doorman won't accept the package. No worries, though: We decide to FedEx it. ''I actually applied to FedEx once when my career was going over a rough patch,'' he volunteers. ''Nothing ever came of it, though.'' Pal, that's a good thing. -- Tom Sinclair

Ron's Picks for Your Walk (Man)!

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Ron's Picks for Your Walk (Man)!

The Lovin' Spoonful, Greatest Hits ''An incredibly underrated band. I was glad they got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a couple of years ago.''

Jonathan Rice, Extended Player 24:26 EP (out May 25): ''He's a new artist who I just played a benefit show with. He's really good.''

The Kinks, The Kink Kontroversy ''Or anything by the Kinks, really. To me, they're right up there with the Beatles.''

Originally posted May 07, 2004 Published in issue #764 May 07, 2004 Order article reprints
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