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