I’m heading out tonight to see one of my favourite bands of all time, Blue Rodeo, the Canadian alt-country/alt-blues/alt-rock band that have been playing the sound track of my life for, well, most of my life. From university days at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, through the saloons of Alberta, rowdy parties at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver and those wonderful, intimate shows at tiny venues in California, I’ve loved every single show. I’m working on another longer post that is challenging me a lot, so I thought I’d entertain myself (and hopefully some of you) with a round-up of my Top 10 Blue Rodeo songs. What an awesome way to spend a rainy Saturday morning, going through their songbook and picking my favourites. Loved it! And I’m really excited to hear them in the amazing Orpheum Theatre – row 6 for me! Last time I was at the Orpheum was in June for the Avett Brothers, now THAT was a show!!
So here, in no particular order, are my Top 10 Blue Rodeo songs!
1. Bad Timing (5 Days In July). Ok, this is my all time favourite, and it better be, I had some of the notes incorporated into my ink work I still remember Jim Cuddy walking out with his mandolin to the front of the stage at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and singing this like his heart was broken. He stole mine that night! And one of the coolest things about the video is that the beautiful woman is Jim’s wife, Rena. They are still married and he says often and proudly that she is the love of his life and he couldn’t have done it without her. It’s no wonder we adore him.
2. After the Rain (Casino) Ok, this one might be tied for all time favourite and it has a history. Way back when, before Jim played piano in concert,he played this one on guitar. Then one show he had a piano on stage, sat down and played this and brought the house down. He’s played at least a couple of songs on piano every show since. It also has a sad story that he still tells; he was singing this at Malkin Bowl one night, went for the falsetto and . . nothing. It took two years and surgery to fix his vocal chords, but I’m so thrilled that he once again belts out those high notes with such confidence. And it has one of my very favourite lyrics “Tonight as I’m losing control, I will drink to the queen of my soul”. Don’t we all wish we were the queen of someone’s soul?
3. Trust Yourself (Casino) Oh my, they are sooo young in this video! And so rock star (well at least as much as BR ever gets). When they play this one live the guitar work is always a long blistering jam where they get to show their mad skills. Talented musicians doing their thing – really, really well.
3. Hasn’t Hit Me Yet (Five Days in July) Here is a big piece of the Blue Rodeo magic, what’s made it work for so many years – the collaboration between Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor. They have known each other and have been playing in bands together since high school. Good years, really bad years, addictions, artistic differences, the whole gamut. It must be like another marriage. Their enduring partnership and mutual respect is so unusual in the industry, it’s a testament to the type of people they are.
4. Sad Nights (The Days in Between). Jim wrote this song about their time in New York and his wife-to-be leaving after the summer. He didn’t perform it live for a very long time then back in about 2009 they were playing an acoustic concert on the tiny backstage at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica and I got to hear it again. It was magic. In fact that whole tour was magic, they were trying out a new keyboard player and played their entire songbook at a whole bunch of tiny, iconic venues up and down the West Coast – The Mint in LA, the Independent in SFO, McCabe’s in Santa Monica. It was so much fun travelling up the coast seeing them every night. And if you’ve ever said goodbye to someone you care a lot about, knowing it’s going to be months till you see them again . . .well you will get this one.
5. Til I Gain Control Again (5 Days In July) Although this is not an original BR song (it was written by Rodney Crowell) I still love their version and the lyrics are amazing.
You know I love to spend my mornings
Like sunlight dancing on your skin (ok if anyone ever sings that for me, I’m done for!!)
I’ve never gone so wrong
As for telling lies to you
What you see is what I am
There is nothing I could hide from you
You see me better than I can
6. Head Over Heels ( 5 Days in July ) Makes me want to put on my dancing shoes, jump up and dance around the living room – always! “It’s the little things that get you through, like the same sun rising on me as over you” . What a great song about life on the road, waiting to go home to your lover. I think (?) Jim wrote this one when they were in Australia representing for Canada at the Olympics. And yes, there are way better videos but we were at this show at the Mint in LA, that over enthusiastic “woo hoo” at the beginning is yours truly (but only that one, not the subsequent!!) and the head bobbing in and out of frame is my partner in crime for the road trip. There was a fair bit of tequila involved that night, just saying 🙂 It was waaaay too much fun.
7. House of Dreams (Diamond Mine) Wow, going way back into the distant past!! A great song, is a great song, is a great song. They just don’t get old. And there is that gorgeous, haunting guitar from Greg.
8. Walk Like You Don’t Mind (Palace of Gold ) Palace of Gold came out after a 3 year hiatus – we were starting to wonder if BR would ever tour again. Thankfully they resolved their differences, put out a new record and went back on the road – with a horn section. If they play this tonight, everyone will be out of their seats (or at least I will be – yup, I’m always that girl at these shows!!)
9. One More Night (The Things We Left Behind). From their most recent album, recorded at their own studio in Toronto, The Woodshed. It’s a great story.
10. Lost Together (Lost Together). The only song to close the post with, because Greg’s been closing shows with this song forever. It’s the BR lovefest. And I found this video with Steve Earle sitting in!
And the other reason I love these guys, not only are they talented musicians but they are also great supporters of the entire music community in Canada. Sarah McLachlan got her start as their back up singer, Kathleen Edwards has opened for them many times over the years and the incredible Anne Lindsay (another friend from high school) comes out often to work her particular brand of fiddle magic with them. And they have nurtured so many great (and some not so great!) young bands, taking them on the road to open for them.
Hope you enjoyed my trip through the BR archives as much as I did – I can’t wait for the show tonight.