Life in progress


48. Scenes from the Second Seat on the Right

Wednesday, October 18th, 6:00pm
Everyone on the bus


Everyone: (singing)
Does your mother tell you things
Long, long when I’m gone?
Who you talking to?
Is she telling you I’m the one?

It’s a grave mistake
And I’m wide awake

Drive in’s rained out
Weatherman wet fingers the sky
He pokes it out, he pulls it in
He don’t know why

It’s the same mistake
It’s been a long time running
It’s been a long time coming
It’s well worth the wait

We don’t go anywhere
Just on trips
We haven’t seen a thing
We still don’t know where it is

It’s a safe mistake
It’s been a long time running
It’s been a long time coming
Well, well, it’s all the same mistake
Dead to rights and wide awake
I’ll drop a caribou
I’ll tell on you
I’ll tell on you
I’ll tell on you

You’ve got a boatload of nerve
But I would say you’ve been told
You work me against my friends and you’ll get
You’ll get left out in the cold

It’s the same mistake
It’s been a long time running
It’s been a long time coming
It’s been a long, long, long time running
It’s well worth the wait
It’s well worth the wait
It’s well worth the wait
It’s well worth the wait

Long Time Running by: Gordon Downie, Robert Baker, Paul Langlois, Johnny Fay, Gordon Sinclair

Dedicated to all of Canada.
Rest in peace, Gordie.

… armed with will and determination, and grace, too …

Next stop: Thursday, October 19th, 6:00pm

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“Armed with will and determination, and grace, too.”

I may sound like a broken record, and for that I apologize. It’s the Canadian thing to do, eh? But I feel the need to record this both for myself and on behalf of my fellow Canadians.

There is no power equal to that of music. It brings us together and gives us, as humans, a connection that crosses all barriers. As one who has traveled the world for the privilege of hearing it live, I can attest to this. It’s one thing to listen to it on the radio, or on your home stereo, knowing that you can replay it a million times, but that’s light years from standing before a stage, surrounded by not only the sound but the energy, the vibration, and the unique experience that is being at a concert. It must be that, times ten, for the performers.

So we come to the point. The Tragically Hip. In case you somehow missed the news, their lead singer, Gordon Downie, was diagnosed in May with terminal brain cancer. Their final concert last night at the K-Rock Centre in Kingston was a one-off like none other. I watched as Gordie stood on stage with his eyes closed, absorbing the sound, the experience, just as I have so many times. Living in that moment because that moment was all he had, and all he will ever have. I pray he wasn’t in pain, that the adrenaline was enough. We, as a country, watched as he bravely did what he does best. If he’s like me, he shared with us what he loves the most besides his family – the power of music.

He spoke about The Hip’s third performance in Kingston, 28 years ago, when six people attended the show. Last night it’s estimated that 11.7 million Canadians watched their final performance. It wasn’t enough for me to watch it after the fact: I needed to feel the undeniable connection of my country, my Prime Minister who was there at the concert less than an hour from where I live, and of course, the band.

This video, choppy as it is, shows a moment at the end that will stay with me for the rest of my life. As someone on twitter said last night, we watched a man who is dying. With Courage and Grace, Too.

Grace, Too

He said, “I’m fabulously rich, come on just let’s go”
She kind of bit her lip, “Jeez, I don’t know”
But I can guarantee, there’ll be no knock on the door
I’m total pro, that’s what I’m here for

I come from downtown, born ready for you
Armed with will and determination, and grace, too

The secret rules of engagement are hard to endorse
When the appearance of conflict meets the appearance of force
But I can guarantee, there’ll be no knock on the door
I’m total pro here, that’s what I’m here for

I come from downtown, born ready for you
Armed with skill and it’s frustration, and grace, too


Song-Lyric Sunday – The Tragically Hip

I’m breaking from Helen’s theme on Song-Lyric Sunday today because what I want to write about is time-sensitive.

I’m not much of a Tragically Hip fan. I never have been. But what the band is going through right now affects me. It has the potential to affect all music fans, regardless of preference. You see, a few months ago, when The Tragically Hip announced their final tour, they also came out with the news that their lead singer, Gordon Downie, has brain cancer.

Over the years, The Tragically Hip have become a Canadian icon, every bit as much as David Bowie was to England. Yet they chose to handle the same disease differently. Some would say Bowie did it right, not allowing his fans to fawn over him during his final days. Those same people might say The Hip announced Gordon Downie’s disease as a publicity stunt. But I would have to disagree. The same number of people would have bought tickets to their “final tour” (in brackets because we know what that usually means) and perhaps some of their most loyal fans would have waited until they came out of retirement. As it is, it doesn’t seem they will.


On August 20th they will walk off the stage for the very last time, in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario. The venue, the K-Rock Centre on Tragically Hip Way. How difficult will that be for both the band and the fans? I’m in tears just thinking about it, because even though The Tragically Hip isn’t “my band,” it will happen to every one of them, eventually. Because of the timely announcement, the CBC will simulcast the concert countrywide.

To one of Canada’s greatest bands. I salute you.

Wheat Kings

(Lyrics from Google Play Music)
Sundown in the Paris of the prairies
Wheat kings have all treasures buried
And all you hear are the rusty breezes
Pushing around the weathervane Jesus

In his Zippo lighter he sees the killer’s face
Maybe it’s someone standing in a killer’s place
Twenty years for nothing, well, that’s nothing new
Besides, no one’s interested in something you didn’t do

Wheat kings and pretty things
Let’s just see what the morning brings

There’s a dream he dreams where the high school’s dead and stark
It’s a museum and we’re all locked up in it after dark
Where the walls are lined all yellow, grey and sinister
Hung with pictures of our parents’ prime ministers

Wheat kings and pretty things
Wait and see what tomorrow brings

Late breaking story on the CBC
A nation whispers, “We always knew that he’d go free”
They add, “You can’t be fond of living in the past
‘Cause if you are then there’s no way that you’re going to last”

Wheat kings and pretty things
Let’s just see what tomorrow brings
Wheat kings and pretty things
Oh that’s what tomorrow brings

Written by Gordon Downie, Gordon Sinclair, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois, Robert Baker • Copyright © Peermusic Publishing