Thursday, June 25, 2009

GWVW # 77: "What a Concept!"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 77:  What a Concept!
Song:  Hey You by Pink Floyd
Covered Here by: Paul Carrack
(Songwriter: Roger Waters)
June 25, 2009

Of the many great shows I’ve been fortunate to witness among the best were beginning-to-end performances of concept albums.  These included:

• ‘Tommy’ > Deaf, dumb and blind boy makes good, sharing his musical dreams with the world (as performed by The Who in Foxboro, 1989 and as directed by Des McAnuff in the Broadway stage adaptation, 1993)

• ‘New York’ > A sobering take on life on the back streets of the Big Apple (Lou Reed, Orpheum Theatre, Boston, 1989)

• ‘Quadrophenia’ > Four personalities in one angst-ridden scooter-cruising British ‘Mod’ (as performed by The Who at Madison Square Garden, NY, 1996 and Worcester MA, 1997)

• ‘Preservation Act II’ > Mr Flash and Mr Black; corruption at both ends of the political spectrum (originally written and performed by The Kinks, covered brilliantly by Mick Maldonado and other local musicians at the Middle East Club in Central Square, Cambridge, 1999)

• ‘Pyschoderelict’ > Fictional character Ray High’s mid-life creative crisis and recovery (as performed by Pete Townshend and company, Great Woods, 1995)

• ‘Greendale’ > Small town multi-generational saga in post-911 rural California (Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Great Woods, 2003)

• ‘X-Ray’ > Ray Davies’ performing his ‘unauthorized autobiography’ in song, Westbeth Theatre, Greenwich Village, 1997

• ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ > Musical adaptation of the last days of Jesus’ life, performed at the Hatch Shell in Boston, mid 70’s (as composed by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber)

For a concept album to work on stage, the storyline needs to connect with the audience at some level.  Often, the musicians performing it are known for hits from other albums, and some in the crowd may not be receptive to the fact that they will be hearing a singular set of songs from one release (which may include very obscure cuts).  The musicians know this (either intuitively or by hearing the scattered expressions of displeasure in front of them), but put on the spot, the best of them can rise to the occasion and perform a show for the ages. 

Concept albums are often a reflection of the times in which they were written.  They may also be visionary, which can make a revival performance of them years later an intense experience.  One performance of a concept album, in particular, stands out in my mind as among the penultimate events in the past 50 years in terms of spectacle, high drama, and timeliness:  The Roger Waters-lead performance of his former band’s (Pink Floyd) 1980 recording ‘The Wall’ in Berlin in 1990 (just after the Berlin Wall was neutralized).  This was truly a concert for the history books.  A bit of background is in order.

When I first traveled Europe with Bob Mainguy (who, by the way, just announced the birth of a daughter, Andrea, this past week) in 1986, the Berlin Wall remained an enduring reminder of the Cold War and the division of Europe into Eastern Bloc and Western NATO countries.  As we scoped out our plans for travel early that summer, we were in a position to take advantage of a fairly unique opportunity:  Since Bob had dual citizenship in Canada and Belgium he was allowed to purchase the for-Europeans-only Inter-rail train pass, which included the option to travel to countries on the East side of the Iron Curtain.  He was also allowed to take a guest.  

The other option was Eurail, which was standard fare for Americans and was restricted to Western Europe.  We were torn.  Eurail was cheaper and included Ireland (Inter-rail did not).  Inter-rail involved jumping through a few additional visa-related hoops.  But the thought of traveling to the verboten hinterlands of Eastern Bloc countries like Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany, Hungary, and Romania was enticing, and it took us a few days to make a decision.  We ultimately settled for Eurail, which nonetheless had us traveling far and wide on a whirlwind tour of 14 countries (a few years later, I would get to travel into a less restrictive Eastern Europe <Yugoslavia> by car with Nancy).

The very thought of crossing into such an isolated region at the time seemed a bit surreal.  Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union were indeed closed off from the Western world, perhaps not to the degree as North Korea is now, but close enough.  And the Berlin Wall symbolized this divide.  It was always clear who the wall was there to keep out (West) and who it was there to keep in (East).  Meeting someone from across the demarcation was a novelty:  It rarely happened. 

Roger Waters wrote the songs for ‘The Wall’ as a story line which centers on the life of fictional character ‘Pink’, a famous rock star who becomes increasingly isolated from his friends, family and audience.  The story also covers Pink’s past, and reveals the trauma of his youth (a badgering, mindless schoolmaster > “The Happiest Days of Our Lives”; an over-protective mother > “Mother”).  The ‘Wall’ slowly gets built between him and everyone else.  Eventually he tunes everything out and enters a world all unto himself.  It’s not a happy world by any means, and the closing songs on the album focus on his efforts to break down this emotional ‘Wall’ he has erected.

There is a duality in the meaning of this concept album, however, which comes out in the Berlin concert.  Pink’s isolation includes his imagining an alternative life as a dictator of a foreign land.  References to Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia are unmistakable.  Isolation remains a central theme at this level as well.

The concert in Berlin was released on video in the early 90’s.  I recall walking through a mall and catching the video on a TV screen, which was showing a particularly poignant part of the story. Roger Waters, playing the character of Pink, ignores a ringing phone and tosses furniture out the window of a stage prop apartment room high above the crowd, while singing ‘One of My Turns’, as The Wall gets built below him and around him.

It was not long before I had a purchased copy of the video in hand.  I’ve since watched it numerous times (if anyone wants to check it out, I can send it your way).

At the end of the show, this immense wall comes tumbling down, much like the Berlin Wall had only months earlier just a few blocks away.  The concert was performed as a celebration of that event. 

The Gem Video, ‘Hey You’ sung by Paul Carrack (of Squeeze), is the first song that is played after the entire Wall has been erected.  All songs before and after are performed in front of the crowd of 250,000, but Carrack, in what is one of the most unique moments in the annals of live performance, gets to sing to a wall, with a quarter-million people on the other side.  Roger Waters stands behind him in the shadows (can anyone make out the singular line from the song that Waters sings?).

Following ‘Hey You’ are a few other video cuts from the concert, including ‘One of My Turns’ and ‘The Trial’ (at the end of which, The Wall comes tumbling down > note Albert Finney as the judge, Thomas Dolby as the schoolmaster and Marianne Faithful as the mother).

- Pete

“But it was only fantasy
  The Wall was too high as you can see”

Gem Video: ‘Hey You’

‘One of My Turns’

‘The Trial’

A few bonus tracks for Squeeze fans (Paul Carrack) > yes, that’s you, Becca

‘Cool For Cats’

‘Coffee in Bed’

About the Video: The one and only Roger Waters Concert at the Berlin Wall (or, what was left of it)

Video Rating: 1
Best Feedback: Tom

Hi Pete, at first I was in a rush and went down to the bottom gems you chose - and upon seeing "Hey You" right away thought of the most recent 311 hit song:

which is likely the pace of most younger folk today, no doubt

So just went back to read the entire write-up - and thanks yet once more for a most informative write-up!

Cuz Tom

Thursday, June 18, 2009

GMVW # 76: "Overcoming Adversity"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 76:  Overcoming Adversity
Song:  I Believe in You by Bob Dylan
Covered Here By: Sinead O’Connor
(Songwriter: Bob Dylan)
June 18, 2009

“Shut up and Sing”:  So declared conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham in the title of her post-911 period-piece book.  The book raged against musicians who spoke their minds on stage during that not-so-long-ago turbulent period in American history.  The most obvious targets were the Dixie Chicks, who supposedly betrayed the trust of some of their fellow country-music loving Americans.  And there were others in Ingraham’s cross hairs, including Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and Kris Kristofferson. 

Springsteen, in particular was an interesting target.  Although not quite at the height of his popularity in 2002, he was still off the charts, so at some level you have to admire Ingraham’s boldness for taking him on.  It was that very popularity, however, that thrust responsibility on the outspoken Springsteen to speak up about where he stood on the big ticket items of the day: War, leadership and other touchy subjects. And since he was a pretty candid interview when times were relatively good, it would have been hypocritical of him not to be so in tougher times. 

Springsteen invariably has had plenty to say, not just between his songs, but in his songs too, which at face value are not always correctly interpreted (case in point: ‘Born in the USA’).  ‘Know thy audience’ is the first rule of thumb for anyone who takes center stage, and Springsteen knew that a fair number attending his shows were there because they had connections and cash, and were interested more in the spectacle and the bragging rights than the music.  Springsteen must have rationalized, “if this is how it’s going to be, then let me be perfectly clear why I’m here singing to you tonight and what I am singing about”.  Not always a good call, but appropriate at that time considering the convergence of musician and circumstance.

“Not fair”, according to Ingraham-like minds.  But what she and her audience neglected to recognize was that rock music has always had a rebellious, anti-establishment core.  There is no separating the music from the message, and if you enjoy listening, depending on your world view you may on occasion be forced to absorb that fact against your will.  ** On the flip side, I realize that on the rare occasion I want to listen to sports-talk radio after a World Series or Super Bowl win, the core audience of some shows are dominated by a different mind set, and I have to listen to the political viewpoints of Fred Smerlas, Gerry Callahan and others to get my Sox/Pats victory fix.  It goes with the territory.  **

Now this forum has never been about tossing vitriol, even if it’s a return volley, and I’m not about to start now.  So why lead off with this rant?  Well, the theme for this week’s Gem centers on musicians who have created and faced adversity, and as I zeroed in on the musicians I wanted to write about, the memory of that book came up.  Turned out to be a good intro, but I can’t dwell on it…. there’s more important business to attend to. 

Stirring the pot in general stems from bravery, foolhardiness, or both, but the results are usually the same:  Backlash.  Rebellion in music can be a luxury when you are surrounded by like minds, but when the tides turn, and you find yourself in the minority, or facing a hostile audience, how you deal with the adversity (and indeed your very willingness to take it on in the first place), can build character and open new avenues.  It can also tear you down, at least in the short term.  Very few musicians (or people in general) are willing to do this. I’ve always been intrigued by the few who have.  In the broader historical context, that short list would include folks like Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, William Wallace, Martin Luther King, and Charles Darwin.  Several musicians who immediately came to mind were the aforementioned Kristofferson (rock rebellion in conservative strongholds does not always click) and Cat Stevens (neither does jihad), but the two I can most knowledgeably discuss are John Lennon and Bob Dylan.  I’ll start with Lennon, since Dylan is the lead into this weeks Gem. 

Few have taken a greater leap of faith than John Lennon did in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Lennon had it made in all walks of life, but abandoned it all in search of his version of truth, which centered on his relationship with Yoko Ono.  An early sign of his self imposed exile from mainstream society was when he returned his British MBE award to Queen Elizabeth with the note, “Your majesty, I am returning this in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against my single ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down in the charts” (though leaving much behind, Lennon’s wit remained intact).  Over the next few years he would:

              Move to Greenwich Village to live among the counter culture
              Pose nude with Yoko on the cover of their ‘2 Virgins’ album
              Host ‘Bed-ins’ and ‘Bag-ins’ to protest war, facing ridicule in the process
              Fund large bulletin board advertisements declaring ‘Give Peace a Chance’
              Practice unorthodox ‘Primal Scream Therapy’ as an antidote for losing his mother at a young age
              Write a slew of raw, no-holds-barred, non-conformist songs on his first two solo albums 

Lennon’s actions lead to FBI bugging of his phone lines, and they almost lead to his deportation:  Quite a departure from the mop-top grand entrance he made into the USA in 1963.  Looking back on some of his interviews during these days (easily tracked down on YouTube), it all seems somewhat comical and borderline absurd.  But it was very serious to Lennon at the time, and although he comes across awkward and occasionally 'out there', he would emerge from that period of adversity a stronger person, making his murder a few years later a very hard pill to swallow.  “What could have been?” has been a question on many minds since December, 1980.

And then there’s Bob Dylan.  Dylan has always been on the edge of controversy, but three periods in his career stand out as being particularly adverse.  The first was when he ‘went electric’ in the mid 60’s, and faced the wrath of his original folk-music loving audience.  On his first electric tour with The Band, he faced far more jeers than cheers.  I believe his recent resurgence of four fantastic albums in a row is another period, as he had been written off by many as well past his prime, and once again proved them wrong. 

Tucked roughly in the middle was a late 70’s stretch of 3 albums, ‘Slow Train Coming’, ‘Saved’, and ‘Shot of Love’, which all emphasized Dylan’s Christian conversion to the teachings of Jesus (speak of someone who faced adversity!).  These records are as good as anything in his lengthy catalog, but because they were what rock critics considered a departure from form, the albums were marginalized at the time of their release.  Recently, I’ve been listening again to ‘Slow Train Coming’ after years of neglect (way back when, it contributed to my faith, even more so than most music).  The first rekindled memory I had as I listened again was that the album title is apropos: This music sneaks up on you.  As far as adversity goes, this comes through in the posted lyrics to this week’s Gem, ‘I Believe in You’ which is a song off that album, and is covered in the video by, of all people….. Sinead O’Connor, a name synonymous with adversity.  I did not plan this, but her cover was far and away the best version of this song that I could find (the song was a toss-up with the 2nd url link below, 'Every Grain of Sand', as one which I wanted to Gem stamp this week, but there was no good live footage of that song). 

‘I Believe in You’ is the song O’Connor was supposed to perform at the Dylan 30th Anniversary show in 1992.  She walked on stage to a chorus of boos.   Some in attendance that evening were reacting negatively to her Saturday Night Live performance weeks before during which she burned a picture of the Pope in anger to the lack of acknowledgement Rome was giving at the time to clergy sexual abuse (just then being uncovered but not yet receiving widespread attention).  Booker T futilely tried to jump-start her singing by playing the opening piano notes to the rehearsed song as she stared down boo-birds in the crowd.  She finally cut off Booker T, abandoned the song and sang (a better word might be yelled) a solo a cappella version of Bob Marley’s ‘War’ (the only non-Dylan song performed that evening, albeit unscripted).  Anyhow, years later (1999) she finally performed ‘I Believe in You’ at an animal-rights benefit show in honor of the then recently deceased Linda McCartney (this is the Gem video). 

I’d like to think Pope John Paul II could find empathy for Sinead O’Connor… they were both, after all, admirers of the same musician: Bob Dylan (The pope invited Dylan to the 1997 World Eucharistic Congress in Bologna, Italy, where Dylan performed several songs), and although troubled, she was still (in the words of Van Morrison) ‘seeking higher ground’.

Following ‘I Believe in You’ is a bootleg version of the previously mentioned ‘Every Grain of Sand’ off the 3rd album of that Dylan trilogy, 'Shot of Love'.  I like this version even better than the one that made the album (even with the barking dog in the background).  Below that link are the words to ‘I Believe in You’.  Dylan’s Gem of a song could also have been subtitled: “Blessed are the persecuted for righteousness sake, for they shall see the kingdom of heaven”, but I think that line’s already been used somewhere.

Adversity….it’s something most of us try to avoid, but often the rewards for facing it square in the face can be worth it…eventually.

- Pete

Gem Music Video ‘I Believe in You’

‘Every Grain of Sand’ still shot link

I Believe in You’ lyrics
They ask me how I feel
And if my love is real
And how I know I'll make it through
And they, they look at me and frown
They'd like to drive me from this town
They don't want me around
'Cause I believe in you.

They show me to the door
They say don't come back no more
'Cause I don't be like they'd like me to
And I, I walk out on my own
A thousand miles from home
But I don't feel alone
'Cause I believe in you.

I believe in you even through the tears and the laughter
I believe in you even though we be apart
I believe in you even on the morning after
Oh, when the dawn is nearing
Oh, when the night is disappearing
Oh, this feeling is still here in my heart.

Don't let me drift too far
Keep me where you are
Where I will always be renewed
And that which you've given me today
Is worth more than I could pay
And no matter what they say
I believe in you.

I believe in you when winter turn to summer
I believe in you when white turn to black
I believe in you even though I be outnumbered
Oh, though the earth may shake me
Oh, though my friends forsake me
Oh, even that couldn't make me go back.

Don't let me change my heart
Keep me set apart
From all the plans they do pursue
And I, I don't mind the pain
Don't mind the driving rain
I know I will sustain
'Cause I believe in you.

About the Video: From the Linda McCartney tribute show

Video Rating: 1

Best Feedback: Dad


And Jack:

Very good one Pete.  I didn't really consider the counterculture aspect of this.  If people are going to attend these concerts, they should at least have a pulse on what the singer's passions are...and EXPECT there to be some sort of dialog.  You go to an Amy Grant concert (in the 80s), you were going to hear about Jesus Christ.  I went to see McCartney at Sullivan I think back in 1990, (you were probably there too) :-), and much of his new stuff was for the green cause.  Of course I think the audience wanted to hear the old stuff...and they got plenty of that too!
The only two editorial comments I would make are the following....

1, The Dixie Chicks.  This was egregious for two reasons.  First, it was counter to their audience (Southern Country/Southern Rock crowd), and like you said Know thy Audience!  I don't really know the Dixie Chicks, but what triggered that off wasn't so much that the DCs denounced our actions in Iraq, but more that they did this in France of all places.   That just exacerbated the whole thing.  Personally, I could care less but there you have it. 

2. The dirty little secret about John Lennon.  Loved the guy...still listen to him from time to time.  He was a genius and definitely a man of conviction.  However, he once bragged that he took over 3000 acid trips.  If this is true, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, my guess is he would have died not too long after...if for anything because of the tremendous strain that sort of activity puts on the mind and body. 

Just a couple of observations is all....hope all's well with you and the fam!!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

GMVW # 75: "Northern Exposure"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 75:  Northern Exposure
Song:  50 Mission Cap by The Tragically Hip
(Songwriter: Gordie Downie)
June 11, 2009

A second Gem has been found via album recommendations.  This one comes courtesy of good buddy Steve Vance.  Steve recommended the album ‘Fully Completely’ by Canadian rock band, The Tragically Hip.  The band was not listed in my priority list (in the write-up for Gem #58), but Steve’s talking points were convincing, and so I struck off in pursuit of the cd.  The quest proved to be harder than I had expected.  Traveling for work during the search, I frequented (or called) numerous new and used record stores in Washington D.C., Little Rock Arkansas, and Baltimore Maryland, finally tracking the cd down much closer to home, in Manchester New Hampshire.  It was worth the effort.

One reason for my difficulty in finding this record was that I was searching in the States.  Of the many great bands that have emerged out of Canada over the past 50 years, The Tragically Hip are about as ‘provincial’ as they get.  It is highly likely that a significant portion of their loyal following: 1) are able to name the Canadian Prime Minister and his party affiliation; 2) have an original (pre-USA release) game board of Trivial Pursuit in their closets; and 3) can explain the rules in curling.  They can also tell you who scored the winning goal in the 1972 Canada/Soviet Union Summit Series.  At first listen, ‘The Hip’ reminded me of the Australian band Midnight Oil….must be a Commonwealth thing.  Yet many of the songs on the album ‘Fully Completely’ are Canuck centric:  The use of ‘Pigeon Cameras’ during WW I, a false-accusation murder mystery in Saskatchewan in 1969 (‘Wheat Kings’) and the story behind this week’s Gem… but I’ll save the unveiling of that one for just a bit longer. 

Steve recommending an album as distinctly Canadian as this one opened the flood gates for me in terms of this write up, partly because, in all sincerity and admiration, Steve is as Canadian as anyone I’ve ever met.  My insight into what makes a Canadian ‘Canadian’ had faded a bit over the years, but recently I’ve had the pleasure of traveling a handful of times to Canada for work and upon reconnecting with the citizenry, I was brought back to old familiar and subtle perceptions of a culture that is very much distinguished from that here in the USA. I’m not going to even try to define it:  The German word for this type of familiarity is ‘Gestalt’, and I will leave it at that.  However, I’ll share a few thoughts here of my own personal experiences with our neighbors in the ‘Great White North’ (several of whom may be reading this), which will hopefully flesh out a few uniquely Canadian superlatives.

For me and other family members, visions of all things Canadian started with my maternal grandfather, Emmet Smith.  Grampy (also known as Gumpa by a majority of his 59 grandchildren) immigrated to the States from Prince Edward Island in the 1920’s.  He brought with him his down-to-earth, peaceful nature that radiated its way down the family tree:  Cousins Jack and Tom have the same easy-going personalities.  Grampy also brought his love of Canada and PEI here with him, and he often reflected on his native land in stories to us.  The stories had an undertone of hardship, but they were told in a most faith filled manner giving PEI an almost mythical aura as he spun his yarns.   

When Dana Carvey did his character, ‘Grumpy Old Man’, on Saturday Night Live, I was reminded of my grandfather.  Not because of the crankiness of the character, but because of the stories, which, for Carvey’s character, all started with “When I was a boy…..”.  He would then go on to tell of some outrageous walking distance to school or how his family survived hard winters, and he would finish with the line “And we liked it!”  The Grumpy Old Man’s exaggerations were the reality of my grandfather’s young life in Tracadie, PEI, which likely contributed to his well-grounded and faith centered lifestyle. 

Dad’s side of the family tree is also rooted in Maritime Canada.  A town in New Brunswick, Hillsborough, boasts ‘The Steeves Museum’, which Nancy and I have visited with the kids.  A great, great, great Uncle, William Steeves, was actually one of five New Brunswick delegates at the original Canadian Confederation Conference in Charlottetown, PEI in 1864, (an historic gathering which is brought to life at the Confederation Museum in Charlottetown > worth a visit if you are ever in the area).  So, in Canada, instead of “signing your John Hancock”, the saying goes “sign your William Steeves”….. ok, a bit of wishful thinking there. 

A number of family summer vacations during my teen years were to Canada, including Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City.  It was during these trips that I started to make my own Canada connections, which ultimately led to a 1982 college exchange program excursion to Carleton University in Ottawa.  Steve, a suite mate, was the first person I met.  He took me under his wings and showed me the ropes (literally, in the case of the orientation-week tug-o-war over the Rideau Canal).  In no time, Carleton, the Canal, Parliament Hill, Hull, and the Market Place became friendly territory.   More importantly, Steve connected me with his friends, who became my friends.  I could write a dissertation on how that all panned out, but will leave that to the historians (actually, I’ve already hit on a few stories in past gems and plan on doing so in future ones).

Tucked in the midst of all this has been a reliable seasonal reminder of all things Canadian: The NHL.  Though less so now, the NHL has always been top heavy with Canadian talent.  This was particularly the case when I was young and fascinated with the Big Bad Bruins in the early 70’s.  Every single member of the Bruins ’70 and ’72 Stanley Cup winners were from Canada:  Orr, Esposito, Bucyk, Cheevers, Sanderson, McKenzie…. the whole lot of them.  These guys were good, but of equal interest to me was their character.  They knew how to have fun, and you could see it play out on the ice and hear about it in the headlines.  When the Bruins won the Cup in 1970, the story goes that Derek ‘Turk’ Sanderson spotted a cop’s motorcycle parked near the parade route, started it up and cruised the streets of Boston with Pie McKenzie in tow.  When Phil Esposito was in the hospital, Orr and others, disguised in scrubs, snuck into his ward and wheeled him out to a pub down the street where he spent the remainder of the evening on his roller bed in the middle of the pub floor, beer in hand.

More important than the recognition of camaraderie though, these guys were connected with the fans.  In the early 70’s, Fred and I sent chicken-scratch notes to many of the players asking for their autographs and we received responses from every single one of them, including players we admired on other teams like Gump Worsley, Yvon Cournoyer, Ken Dryden, and Pete and Frank Mahovlich.  The players were also humble and classy in their interviews, particularly Bobby Orr, and when I had the chance to meet a player in person (as was the case with Ken Hodge and John McKenzie) I was pleasantly surprised with their authenticity. When I see this humble style in modern hockey players as they get interviewed, occasionally I will look them up for their nationality.  More often than not, they are Canadians. 

Interest of the Bruins in our family goes way back to the Eddie Shore days. Dad’s parents (Jerry and Fred) had season tickets to the Garden and followed the Bruins through good times and bad.  These were the days of the ‘Original Six’ (Toronto, Detroit, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Montreal).  It’s this era that The Tragically Hip connect us to in this week’s Gem ’50 Mission Cap’.  The title refers to military caps that were given to any Royal Air Force pilot who completed 50 hostile missions.  Although the title is relevant to the songs deeper meaning, the lyrics are more a window into NHL lore and the Toronto Maple Leaf glory days.

The Leafs won the Cup in 1951, on an overtime goal by one of their stars, Bill Barilko.  Barilko then disappeared that summer after a fishing trip in northern Ontario.  His disappearance remained a mystery until the small 2-man plane he was flying in was found crashed in the hinterlands 11 years later (35 miles off course).  The Leafs won the Cup that year (1962) for the first time since his disappearance.  Many Torontonians saw it as far more than coincidence.

Although I’ve had the chance to see passionate fans here in Boston, I realize it is hard to compare to Toronto Maple Leaf fans.  It’s been a while since Toronto won the Cup (1965).  The closest they’ve come since was a run in the ’93 playoffs (arguably the best playoff year in hockey in the past 40 years).  It would be a spectacle to see them win the Cup again (after the Bruins pull it off though!). 

Hopefully, for those who are hockey fans, this is all stirring more interest in tomorrow nights game between an original 6 (Detroit), and an original 12, (Pittsburgh).  It’s a game seven.  Winner gets to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.  It could be a doozy, and a viewing of the Gem should add a bit to the drama.  The lyrics are added below for additional context.  Also, below the Gem is a 2nd url link, that one of the Bruins early 70’s theme song:  ‘Nutrocker’ by ELP.

In closing, I want to thank Steve for his album recommendation and his friendship.  Steve’s love of music has been a connection since I met him.  I’ve also got a request for him.  No one I know has traveled to more locations far and wide in Canada than Steve.  If up to the task, I’m hoping he can reflect on several of the more interesting locales he has visited over the years for us, whether in British Columbia, Alberta, the Yukon, Newfoundland or Thunder Bay Ontario.  I believe Steve’s exploits would put Farley Mowat to shame. 

Several year’s ago, I ran into 2 hikers on a mountain top in Maine who told me they lived in Nova Scotia.  After talking with them for a while I was confused.  They didn’t have that ‘Canadian’ thing going for them, and I asked, a bit skeptically, if they were originally from there.  ‘No’ they replied, they were from the States, and had only lived in Canada for 5 years.  They asked how I knew, as there was no accent to give them away per se.  “I’m not sure”, I replied, “I just know”. 

Perhaps I was making a mental comparison to Steve Vance, with some Emmet Smith, Pat Shea, Luc Polnicky, Ed Suen, Tom Murphy, Bob Mainguy, Joan Blakesley (Ottawa relative) and many other friends and relatives mixed in.  Not to mention Bobby Orr, Neil Young, Robbie Robertson, Alanis Morissette, Mike Myers, Don Cherry and other celeb types who have connected.

Yes, that would explain it.

- Pete

Gem Video ’50 Mission Cap’

Bruins 70’s theme song: Nutrocker by Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP)

Lyrics to 50 Mission Cap:

“Bill Barilko disappeared that summer
 He was on a fishing trip
The last goal he ever scored won the Leafs the Cup
They didn't win another until 1962 the year he was discovered
I stole this from a hockey card I keep tucked up under
My fifty mission cap I worked it in to look like that”

About the video: A custom video homemade by someone in Canada.  It shows old clips of Bill Barilko and the Toronto Maple Leafs

Video Rating: 1.5 (very nice homemade clips, but there’s room for improvement)

Best Feedback: Steve


Thanks for the Gem. We have not seen each other in 13 years and I still love you Man!
If I made an impression on your life almost 27 years ago, think what you've done to mine and so many other people on the email list. You are like the glue that keeps us together. Wouldn't be cool if Peter was the US Ambassador to the UN. I mean Pete how to embrace procrastination!

I don't get into music as much as you do but I know what I like. And wow! is your memory good, those years to me are just a blur! I can't belive you have not heard or cannot find the The Hip.
I'm glad you enjoyed the album. This is my favorite hip song not on that album - New Orleans is Sinking. When they all had big hair. During Katrina radio stations refused to play it.

I don't know what it is to be truly Canadian but I do know that Henderson scored the winning goal in '72 and "How's it going, eh?" is my favorite intro.
I was sorry to see the Bruins lose this year but Sidney Crosby will win his first Stanley of many tomorrow night and wreck havic on the Detroit Machine!

I will try to send you a nice story if I can remember one.

Cheers to Everyone!!

PS: Since you shined us Canadians so well, I had to pass on the Canadian "Talking to Amercians" Rick Mercer show. For some reason, we find it hilarious.

Here's my page on youtube where I have acouple of videos but plan to add more.