Wells’ songs are, without a doubt, evidence proving that he treats children with respect and looks upon them as intelligent individuals who are capable of absorbing so much more than a continuous musical repetition of mindlessness, and his live presentation of not playing the clown and not playing the fool is further evidence of that respect. “Music and, more specifically, song lyrics is one of the greatest educational tools we have when it comes to children,” says Wells. “The shame of it all is that, for the most part, we continue to feed children a constant diet of musical trash. Songs that offer nothing to the child. Songs that neither challenge, educate nor stimulate their minds.”
During his live performance Wells attempts to get down to the social level of his audience by playing the role of a child himself. From that point he nudges them into certain realizations of the world they have been told about - ducks go quack and cows go moo - and allows them the opportunity to figure out by themselves the truth of that particular matter. Wells clings tight to his belief that children, within the confines of their own social world, are smarter than adults and can figure out anything given the proper educational tools. “Adults are the teachers of dishonesty, of jealousy, of mistrust, of bigotry, of violence and we must accept that,” says Wells. “Our children become exactly what we teach them to become. They see our actions and our reactions and they learn from that. They see how we interact with others and they learn from that as well. To think for one moment that we are not educating our children in the art of violence when we, as adults, strike out at others is wrong. It is our basic disrespect for the intelligence of children that causes so much damage and for children’s entertainers this, too, is the case.” Wells sees this in our treatment of smaller children as well. “We look at children and we say they are short on attention and never consider the fact that they might be long on interest. The truth of the matter could very well be that we bore them. We tell them to sit down, we tell them to shut up and listen and then we wonder why they are frightened to interact with us. ”
“When I was a child”, says Wells, I sang continuously. I could learn all of the lyrics to any song in a matter of hours. My father often told me that if I were to sing my homework I would be a genius. Though, genius, I’m sure I would never have been I do believe I would not have had such a hard time learning about the Acadians and other such boring highschool history topics if I had learned through song.”
Today, as an accomplished songwriter for both adults and children Wells has come to the realization that children are being exploited by the machinery that run the music business. “I have no problem with allowing children their natural ability to pretend, to imagine and to believe in such figures as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I, in fact, promote it. But, in the same way as the toy manufactures adjust their scopes and mount their attack on children through their constant bombardment of television ads during those days leading up to Christmas, the music industry will target those very same imaginations with the likes of The Spice Girls, The Back Street Boys, New Kids On The Block and a host of other shiny, glittery baubles manufactured by the industry to make money. They offer nothing in return,” says Wells. They just take.”
Wells is one of those rare writer/performers. He is not afraid to approach certain educational topics such as “keeping bad secrets” and he pays no attention to adults who disagree with the content or subject matter of his songs. “Every song I’ve ever written, every word and every statement made has been thought out and purposely written to tell children the truth about certain matters. If an adult has a problem with the lyrical content of any of my songs I will simply ask them why. The answer they offer is usually a silly one that has nothing to do with children and everything to do with the personal life of that particular adult.” Two cases in point are the single mother who purchased a copy of Wells’ first album Ladder To The Sky and noticed a song on it called Just Like Mom Just Like Dad. Based on the title of the song alone she was not happy about her purchase and although she did not ask for her money back she did express her unhappiness by saying she was going to make a copy of the recording with out that particular song on it. “It was an obvious case of an adult female who had a bad relationship with an adult male,” says Wells. “The woman made it clear that the father was not involved in the child’s life and so, in my opinion, she was using this one particular song to satisfy her own personal dislike of the father, to get back at him I suppose.”
“Adults seem to carry so much baggage with them,” says Wells. “They embrace their adult politics, anger and all, and by doing so they deny children the truth and I don’t mean the truth as they see it but the truth as it is. This is not to say that parents should scare children with the truth but to use their own personal adult problems to deny a child something so simple as a song because of something so adult and so personal is stupidity. This oh-yeah-I’ll-fix-you mentality of adults and ex-spouses is the very same mentality that sees divorced and separated parents using their children as weapons against each other. If Just Like Mom Just Like Dad was a song filled with profanity or sexual innuendo I could understand the problem.” The other case in point concerns the song Kiss The Hurt Away. The song deals with having someone in your life who is always there to kiss away the hurt of simple everyday bumps and bruises. The person in Wells’ song is the mother. This of course does not always sit too well with fathers but, as always, Wells couldn’t care less. “Once again it’s a simple case of adult stupidity. It’s the boys against the girls mentality except that it’s an adult mentality. These are the same people who will purchase a copy of the Spice Girls new album for their 7 year old daughter and think how cute it is that they want to play dress-up like Poshy and Goopy or whatever the heck their names are. These are the same people who will marvel at how bright their child is for learning all the words to Tell Me What You Want while at the same time give no thought to what the song is about or what the answer to the question is: sex. As long as it doesn’t offend their own personal sensibilities it’s alright. Aw but parents know what’s best for their child when it comes to music,” says Wells with a laugh. “They will purchase a copy of Old MacDonald Had A Farm one day and the Spice Girls the next never giving a thought to the fact that there is something in between, something of worth.”
Below are a number of links to some of the work Wells has produced over the years. You will find reviews of his recordings and of his live show along with a link to his Love & Safety Club for Children. On his home page you will find links to his song lyrics, samples of his music and a page where you can purchase his music.
Wells Climbs Ladder To The Sky: A Review by Stephen Pedersen
Wells Shines In Second Album: A Review by Ken MacLeod
Duncan - a Cape Breton Treasure: A Performance Review by Carla DiGiorgio
Children’s Entertainer Turns Another Fine Album: A Review by Ken MacLeod
Duncan’s Home Page: Here you will find links to career highlights, song lyrics, children’s stories, booking information and more.