Pinch Me

I got to live one of my dreams last week.

I have a lot of them, actually. I’ve always got my sights set on something, so there’s no shortage of dreams in my life. And I would say that I’m living them constantly. Because I have a wide range of dreams. From things that are very easily achievable, like eating at Wendy’s twice in one day or starting up a colony of sea monkeys for my desk at work. Then there are dreams of a more complex nature. For instance, having a freak accident that transforms me into a super-powered mutant or time travelling to 1968 to dry hump a young Charlton Heston in his mega-hunk days. And there are tons and tons of dreams that fall between the foolishly simple and absurdly impossible ends of my dream spectrum.

And that’s really the key to achieving your dreams. Make sure you have a shit-ton of them, all of varying degrees of difficulty. Then when you achieve a bunch of the smaller ones you’ll feel fucking amazing, and the big ones won’t seem so daunting. Now I know that some of my dreams might not ever come true, I accept that. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t keep having them.

Dreaming is fun. It’s my most cherished pastime. And once in a while I get some seriously awesome results…

Barenaked Ladies concert. The dream I’ve held onto the longest and treasured the most. I’ve wanted this so badly, with an aching pain, from the very instant I first heard Steven Page’s dulcet tones and Ed Robertson’s gorgeous harmonies. Their voices floated through the speakers and found their way to my grateful ears. By the time I’d completed my first full listening of Gordon the band had already claimed a permanent residence in my heart.

Now this dream may seem like it fits into the easily achievable category given that I’m Canadian and the band lives in Toronto, but it hasn’t been easy at all. Circumstances beyond my control have thus far prevented me from ever being able to see them live. But I always promised myself that the very second the opportunity arose, I would pounce on it.

And pounce I did! D won a contest at work because he’s such an industrious fellow. His reward was 2 concert tickets to any event in Toronto this year. Because he’s such a wonderful boyfriend, we had ourselves some freaking Barenaked Ladies concert tickets lickety-split! That, or I was just forceful enough in my insistence that the tickets be used to accomplish one of my most treasured life long dreams that he couldn’t turn me down.

Actually, I believe it was the lack of any upcoming concerts for any of his favourite groups that saved the day. But that’s just a minor detail.

I could have bought the tickets, like a normal person, sure. But I’d just shelled out a wad of cash back in April for me and D to see Muse. And there’s something about seeing one of my all-time favourite bands for free that just feels so right. We were able to save our cash for more noble pursuits once we got to the concert. Like multiple bubbas of beer!

It was a beautiful night for a concert, a perfect night for dream fulfilment.

walk to concert

We met up for dinner after work and then walked to the Molson Amphitheatre. We got there with plenty of time to spare, so I immediately made my way over the concession stand so I could grab myself a t-shirt. You have to, it’s just one of those things that’s non-negotiable. It’s your favourite band, you’ve never seen them live before, you better buy yourself a fucking t-shirt. The dude who sold me the shirt told us that Ed Robertson was actually down on the pavilion just playing some tunes for the onlookers. It was awesome. I couldn’t see him that well because word had gotten out and he obviously started drawing a crowd. But what a rad dude! He could have just been hanging out backstage getting wasted before the show, but instead he chooses to give the early bird fans a rare treat.

And then, because he’s even more awesome than that, Ed also made an appearance on stage to play with Boothby Graffoe, who was on deck first. Accompanied by the immaculate Jim Creeggan as well I might add. I love him so much more now because of that. Thanks Ed!

Ed on stage

The opening act, Guster, I had never even heard of before. But they blew me away. I’ve been listening to them incessantly via the internet ever since that night. But I will definitely be picking up some of their CD’s on my next stop off at HMV. Because I’m the only person on the planet that still listens to actual CDs obviously. I love when that happens, a solid opening act that you can enjoy exploring afterwards. I’d always wanted to see Ben Folds live too, so it was an added bonus that he was part of the tour. It was fascinating to watch him work those deft fingers of his along the keys. He was truly captivating. And when he closed the show with “Song for the Dumped” and threw his stool at the piano, I thought the crowd was going to riot. He worked us up to such dizzying heights. Truly, we were enraptured by his greatness.

Ben Folds

I was drinking a lot of beer. It was starting to worry me that I was going to miss the start of the main event because I kept rushing off to piss so often. But luckily I had good timing. The tell-tale reverence that washed over the boisterous crowd announced the start of the main event. This is it. This is what I’ve been waiting half of my life for. The moment of truth so to speak.

Barenaked Ladies took the stage and started playing “Limits”, the opening track of their new album. That nervous lump of anticipation in my throat quickly gave way to feverish excitement. This is it, and its so surreal. I let myself get lost in it.

BNL

BNL2

It was everything I’ve always been dreaming about. When they played “Brian Wilson” my heart felt so full. Like a tiny little piece of it had been missing this whole time and had finally been filled. I gushed and sighed and exclaimed how truly happy I was to D.

And I wasn’t the only one feeling the magic that night. There were TONS of drunk people! I saw a guy walk right into a wall. I saw a guy being escorted out before the show was over with puke all down the front of himself. I saw a girl passed out on the lawn outside the stadium, who refused to walk any farther and insisted to her friends that she just needed a little nap. I overheard this really drunk guy telling a girl he just met how truly beautiful she was and that he hoped they’d meet again one day in a pasture. It was incredible.

I know that my photos of the concert are super crappy. Not even close to capturing how fucking awesome it was. If you want to check out some really stunning pics from the show, you can see them here courtesy of Aesthetic Magazine Toronto

It ended too suddenly for me though. I wish it could have gone on forever. But that’s not how dreams work. They’re fleeting, and therein lies the magic. When you’re lucky enough to achieve those dreams you hold most dear, you can’t quibble over the details. You have to be thankful, so that your other dreams can come true too.

Thank you dreams. Thank you for coming true.

Gordon

The electronic gurgle emitted from the computer as it accepts the disc and pulls it within is a nod of great appreciation. It loves this album too, I think. Or perhaps I’m just projecting my profound love for Gordon upon it. That’s the most likely scenario, but I don’t really give a damn. I know I can rip the disc to the computer, I’ve ripped many others. But there’s something in the act of putting the disc in, and hearing that gurgle of agreement from the computer that I don’t want to lose. It’s become something of a ritual to savour that fleeting moment before the first strains of “Hello City” begin to float gloriously out of the speakers and dance their way to my greedy ears.

I instinctively clear my throat and wet my lips. I know I’m going to sing every last lyric on that album right along with the band. Without fail, every time. It doesn’t matter that I can’t carry a tune, don’t have the right pitch, or don’t even really know what the difference between those two things is. My love for the music makes my cruddy warbling beautiful. That’s the power that the music we love wields.

I don’t have as much free time as I used to for listening to music. Time to absorb an entire album’s worth of music into the very core of my being. Because that was exactly what I did when I first purchased Gordon. I was young, I didn’t have a job or anywhere to be. I could sit in my room for hours, listening to music, shut off from the world. Sometimes I was singing into a hairbrush mic, or inventing terrible new dance moves. Sometimes I was contemplating the meaning and majesty of the lyrics. Sometimes I was wallowing. In happy times Gordon is my laughter, my fun, my delight. In sad times Gordon is my remedy, my escape, my solace. That’s the way it’s been, and the way it always will be with me and Gordon.

For the whole 59.1 minutes of greatness that this album generously bestows upon me, I am euphoric. And, I am thankful for the creative efforts of the Barenaked Ladies. This album reaches me on a level that no other ever will.

I’ve already admitted that my musical capabilities are limited. I’ve never been able to play an instrument competently in my life. I sat through 7th grade music whispering into my baritone so as not to expose my inability to read scales. Then I did the exact same thing through 8th grade with the trumpet, because it was more inconspicuous with 7 other trumpeters in the class and an entire row of eager clarinet people, whatever they’re called, to shield me. Clarineters? Clarinetees? Clarinetoes? That third option just feels right… Either way, this gross ineptitude as a musician doesn’t mean that my capacity to appreciate music is nil.

Music is made to be heard after all. And when I’m listening to Gordon I know I’m hearing genius. From the start of the album to the very finish I’m taken on a roller coaster ride through the swift and often jarring mood changes of the album. Soaring from zany heights of silliness and spectacle one minute, only to plummet to staggering depths of morose reflection the next. It’s just, so stunning to me!

This post is easily taking me quadruple the normal amount of time to write. As I write, I’m listening to Gordon, naturally. As I’m listening to it, I’m getting so caught up in it that I stop writing for lengthy periods of time because it just takes over. No matter how many times I hear it, it’s still powerful enough to invade my mind and ensnare my heart at any given note.

Furthermore, I know it’s a great album for a fact. My die-hard metalhead, musically inclined boyfriend D never had a problem with me putting Gordon, or any Barenaked Ladies album for that matter, on in the car. I daresay he even enjoys it. His much more musically refined ear recognizes that these are some damn good musicians at work, even though the music they make is the complete opposite style and genre of his liking. That’s the mark of a remarkable group or artist: to dispel of any genre prejudices the listener may have through the masterful arrangement of notes, and lyrics. And the Barenaked Ladies are undoubtedly masters in this craft.

Bow down and worship at the altar of Gordon.


Most of my appreciation for Gordon comes from my love of the written word. In particular, I’m a poetry enthusiast. Songs bear an uncanny resemblance to poetry, do they not? And as we all know, poetry is where the written word goes when it wants to party. So songs are where the written word takes itself for the mind-bendingly insane after party. And they party all through the night at, you guessed it, Gordon. I’ll show you!

Gordon: Smash’s Lyrical Highlights

3. Grade 9

Favourite lyrics: Got into the classroom and my knowledge was gone / Guess I should have studied instead of watching Wrath of Khan

4. Brian Wilson

Favourite lyrics: Call it impulsive, call it compulsive, call it insane; / But when I’m surrounded I just can’t stop

6. Wrap Your Arms Around Me

Favourite lyrics: I regret every time I raised my voice / And it wouldn’t be that bright of me to say I had no choice / I can kiss your eyes your hair your neck / Until we forget

(that’s a particularly good one to belt out with Steven Page in eyes closed fervour!)

7. What a Good Boy

This is my all-time favourite song.

Favourite lyrics: I wake up scared, I wake up strange / I wake up wondering if anything in my life is ever going to change / I wake up scared, I wake up strange / and everything around me stays the same

and…

I couldn’t tell you that you were right / so instead I looked in the mirror, / watched TV, laid awake all night

AND…

Afraid of change, afraid of staying the same / When temptation calls, we just look away

11. New Kid (On The Block)

Favourite Lyric: I can stay up all night. I can have a blast / I can breakdance, I can fight, I can kick your sorry ass. / I’m a New Kid on the Block

12. Blame It On Me

Favourite lyrics: You think you’re so smart, but I’ve seen you naked / and I’ll probably see you naked again

and…

Yes dear, I love you / But sometimes I think that love’s not enough for you / So you want to play mind games, / well that’s fine, go ahead, la la la I can’t hear you

GAH! It’s just so awesome! Are you starting to feel the awesome now too?

If all of that isn’t enough to prove how much I cherish this fucking album, then maybe this will do the trick:

Gordon the Hamster

I will win you with cuteness. This was my pet hamster, Gordon. Named so expressly because of the album. He was a short-lived homage to the album, but a really frickin’ cute one!

My point? Oh, was I going to be getting to that sometime soon? Yes!

My point, after all of that, is that Gordon is a fucking masterpiece. In my eyes, nay, in my ears. And while you might not share my love for this album (though you really should, it’s great), I do hope you feel this way about any other album or song, capable of inciting your passions in a similarly obsessive and frenzied manner. Music helps us, heals us, speaks to us, inspires us, and changes us. In this busy, bustling existence of ours, we may not always have time to just listen to music and truly appreciate the impact its had on us. I’m not talking about listening with your ears, as familiar songs loop continuously on your iPod throughout the day. I’m talking about listening with your mind and with your heart.

I’m happy. I had the luxury of time this weekend. Time to catch up with my old friend Gordon. I’ve had an insane last couple of weeks at work, so I needed something to help me float back into my happy place.

And when the last track faded out for the umpteenth time, I still got goosebumps.