Canadian Tire money-financed album debuts

Toronto folksinger Corin Raymond is unveiling a uniquely homegrown project this week: his two-disc album of Canadian-penned songs, funded by Canadian Tire money.

Almost exactly a year after recording their live performance at Toronto's Tranzac Club, Raymond and his band The Sundowners are releasing Paper Nickels, the 20-song album and 144-page booklet he describes as a "coffee-table CD."

In the year since his so-called "caper" began making headlines (even drawing the attention of the Wall Street Journal's foreign currency reporter), Raymond has received Canadian Tire money — which the retailer introduced in the 1950s — from across the country.

The colourful, small-denomination bills were often accompanied by fan mail: letters, pictures and inspirational artwork in which senders shared their personal stories about Canadian Tire money, reactions to his 2011 song Don't Spend It Honey about the Canuck "cash" (which sparked the unusual crowd-sourced funding campaign) and messages of support.

"The whole year has just been kind of this slow avalanche of love," Raymond told CBC News.

"People just got more excited about it …. If you're lucky enough to ignite people's imagination and fire up their hearts, these incredible acts of community can just suddenly happen."

The more than 25 kilos of Canadian Tire bills he's amassed amount to almost $6,200.

Raymond says he remains about $1,100 short of the bill for Rogue Music Lab, the Toronto studio that has accepted Canadian Tire money at par for 20 years and where Paper Nickels was recorded and mixed. However, he feels confident that he and his band will gather the remainder in the next few weeks (any excess will be earmarked for future recordings).

"I have a feeling people are going to be giving me Canadian Tire money for the rest of my life, whether I want them to or not," he said.

Today, many struggling independent artists rely on crowd-sourced funding or other non-traditional methods to produce their albums, but Raymond feels his caper offered something special and poetic that resonated with many Canadians.

"Without the caper, I'd just be a guy you never heard of singing songs you don't know," he acknowledged.

However, "all that Canadian Tire money represents the sort of leftovers of daily and forgotten life because each one of those bills represents a time when someone went down to get a bicycle pump or a garden hose," he said.

"Though alchemy, all those little moments got translated into a record, which is a series of translations of songs, which are already translations of little moments."

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