"It was a John Deere B/ with a row crop front end/ hand crank and a fly wheel/ and the original paint." - 'John Deere B' - Fred Eaglesmith.

He can hot wire your tractor to make it go a little faster on the lost highway or fix up your ruptured romance without leg roping your departed lover with baler twine.

The Canadian troubadour can also furnish you with a credible cover to compliment your original songs.

And he can fill a cameo role in your documentaries, rockumentaries, mockumentaries or theatre plays.

Fred Eaglesmith is a jack-of-all trades and he's coming to a theatre or bar near you on his third Australian tour.

Eaglesmith, 46 and one of nine children raised on an Ontario farm, is the real deal.
With 12 albums and two tribute discs in his slipstream the seasoned singer songwriter is sharing bills with Kasey Chambers and Bill & Audrey.

And, having grown up on a 80-acre family farm which was repossessed when he was just 15, he still has that Southern Ontario soil under his nails.

Although the tarted up tractor that inspired 'John Deere B' from his 12th album 'Balin' was a decorative decoy for an Omaha restaurant he grew up riding a later model.

"I was travelling through Omaha when I saw this 'John Deere B' on the lawn outside a restaurant," Fred told Nu Country on the eve of his third Australian tour that took him to The Palais on August 28 and 29 with Kasey Chambers.

"You can hot wire a John Deere by hooking a piece of wire to the governor and make it go an extra 10 miles an hour faster."

Not exactly the same as making John Landy run that extra mile up on the South Yarra hill but a handy hint for cyber chappies wondering what makes country music tick.

Eaglesmith has been hightailing it down the highways and byways of the western world since he was a kid.

And although the tractor he learned to drive on his farm was more modern than the 1934 John Deere B prototype, which was launched in 1935, it fuelled his song.

His character, an old working farmer, is outbid by a collector.

"He wasn't a collector, he hadn't come for the bargain/ he need that old tractor, to work that old farm."

Eaglesmith may be not as well known as 'The Tractors,' Joe Diffie and others for using John Deeres as vehicles for their hits, but wheels are a constant in his music.

And this is the second sibling to grace an Eaglesmith album in two years - 'The Old John Deere' was on Fred's live disc 'Ralph's Last Show' in 2001.

I only have five Eaglesmith discs but a casual count revealed at least 22 songs about cars, trucks, trains, motor bikes, tractors and that more traditional form of travel - horseback.

So it's no surprise his music has been featured in short films and documentaries and he appeared as an outlaw in the mockumentary 'Return To Nowhere.'

And, during a writing stint in Nashville, his songs were placed on hold by major artists diverse as Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire and the late Waylon Jennings.

"Reba and Garth both had a hold on songs but it didn't eventuate,' Eaglesmith revealed,
"Waylon was also keen on a song called 'Restless Cowboy' which I've never released."
Instead Fred has earned healthy royalties and exposure from covers by fellow Canadians 'Cowboy Junkies' and Aussie artists Bill & Kasey Chambers, Catherine Britt and label boss Audrey Auld.

Kasey recorded two Eaglesmith songs 'Water In The Fuel, 'Freight Train', Bill did 'Big Ass Garage Sale', Auld covered 'Alcohol & Pills' and 'You Did' and Britt cut 'Drive In Movie' - title track of his 1994 album.

"I couldn't believe it when I heard their versions, it was a big surprise" says Eaglesmith whose music has also been covered by Chris Knight and Dar Williams.

"There's a real integrity in all their interpretations, how well they get it. I was blown away when I heard Catherine's recording of Drive-In Movie."

So it's no surprise The Chambers, Britt and Auld also appear on Eaglesmith tribute discs.
"I'm surprised there's one, let alone two, tribute discs," quipped Fred, "you normally have to die to be honoured like that."

And Fred duets with Audrey on her tune, 'B Grade Affair,' from her second solo disc 'Losing Faith' and gave her advice after she split with partner Bill Chambers.

"I suggested she read the Dali Lama's 'Transforming The Mind' as it helped when I went through divorce and relationship break-ups," says Fred, father of three and former partner of Canadian chanteuse Lynn Miles.

"I have studied Buddhism for about 10 years and enjoyed the Dali Lama's writings. I read and write a lot as I'm on the road about 300 days a year. I sleep with a guitar by my bed so I can write when inspiration comes. Some nights I have to choose - girl or guitar."
Home on the odd occasions when Fred is not on the road is an abandoned fishing boat at Port Dover in Southern Ontario.

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