Cover: Songbook by Steven Heighton, ECW Press

Songbook: The Lyrics and Music of Steven Heighton

Heighton, Steven

  • From the award-winning, multi-genre author and musician Steven Heighton, Songbook brings together Heighton’s lyrics and music for the first time in a single volume, including his final songs, which have never been heard or seen until now. When Steven Heighton died suddenly of cancer in 2022, he was in the middle of an intensely creative period of songwriting. He released his first album of original material, The Devil’s Share, in 2021 and was preparing to record his second album. Known first as a poet, Heighton had always held that “music and poetry are two words for the same thing.”

    As in his songwriting, in Songbook, Heighton moves fluidly between genres and subjects, from political songs like “The Butcher’s Bill,” about the carelessness of nations sending their youth to war, to reimagining the myth of Orpheus (“I'll hold my breath the whole way down / And find your soul in the undertown”), to blues tunes like “Last Living Woman Alive,” and a tribute to the late John Prine, the “Buddha of Song.” With chords accompanying the lyrics, readers and musicians have the ability to bring the songs to life with their own interpretations. The music in Songbook was the final work of Heighton’s life, and it is not only a gift to have his lyrics and chords but an invitation from Heighton himself, challenging his readers to answer the call and keep singing along.


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  • Steven Heighton (1961–2022) was a musician and the award-winning author of 20 books of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, including the New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice Afterlands and The Waking Comes Late, winner of the Governor General’s Award for Poetry. In 2021, he released his first album, The Devil’s Share. He lived in Kingston, Ontario.

    Ginger Pharand is a literary editor, educator, and psychotherapist. Originally from South Carolina, she lives in Kingston, Ontario.

  • Published: April 2024

    ISBN: 9781770417717

    Dimensions: 6 x 9 in.

    Pages: 104


“Do yourself a favour: give Heighton’s songs a listen and his lyrics a read. The craftsmanship is a delight to behold — and a tantalizing hint of what might have been had cancer not silenced him so abruptly.” — Literary Review of Canada