As a 13 year old going to his first rock concert, I did pretty well. It was the very first Roadside Attraction. Headlined and hosted by The Tragically Hip.
The first lines to come out of Gord’s mouth, that I witnessed live:
“Cold wind blowing over your private parts. I know a lack you’ve got and it makes a strong case for art”
His words were always so weird, so smart, and so memorable. Someone should study whether or not obscurish words Gord used, like wherewithal, are statistically more used in Canada. I’d wager they get a little bump. I have been enthralled by his words ever since I first heard them.
To seal the deal for me forever, he even said my name in song.
Here’s the long version of the story: I got in to the Hip after Fully, Completely came out. Went to the Roadside Attraction. Was fully in. So the release of the next album, Day for Night, was my first to anticipate. I just so happened to also be getting my driver’s license soon before the release. There was one store, at West Edmonton Mall, opening at midnight and giving the first one away for free. I was allowed to drive with some friends to try to get that free copy. I ran a red light on the way. Didn’t even notice it. I wasn’t too good at driving yet and I was in a hurry.
We made it there despite my driving. I was first in line. I got the first copy of Day For Night in Edmonton. For free. Thanks HMV. Not such a big deal in world history, but a big deal to me.
The practice of getting a new album and carefully and meticulously going through the song list and listening to them one after another is one that I stopped doing years and years ago. Except for the Hip. I was still doing it for their albums right up until Man Machine Poem (what a great album to end off on btw). Obviously I did this with Day for Night as soon as I got home.
Hip songs are slow growers. I’m pretty sure no one likes them much on first listen. I don’t know at first that Grace, Too will still get me going 23 years later and that when Nautical Disaster comes on I just heard what may be their best song for the first time. I’m just listening to the words. Words like this that we all know now.
“It’s as faint as a sound in my memory
as those fingernails scratching on my hull.”
~From Nautical Disaster
And then the 9th song came on. It’s important here to note that my name is Terry Greene. “The Inevitability of Death” starts off. Upbeat. “Puffy Lips, Glistening Skin…” I listen through the chorus. I’m liking it. Let’s hear the next verse. Here it comes. First line:
“Terry’s gift is forever green…”
What? I just heard my name. Gord said my full name. In a song. My first silly reaction is to think I should change my middle name to “gift is forever”. I’m still considering it. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what the line meant, but he said my name. To me, one of the most amazing coincidences of my life. I love this band, I love Gord’s lyrics, and he happens to use my first and last name in a line.
The fact that the line is in a song about the inevitability of death just adds a little sadness to this memory for me, but the chunk of line in the middle of my name, “gift is forever” now takes on more meaning. We will be able to hear his gifts forever. We will benefit from him for a long, long time. I am thankful for that.
It’s just a shame to lose this masterpiece.
image credit “” flickr photo by Moyia M.Pellow https://flickr.com/photos/mpellow/8469999934 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) lice