Monday, September 24, 2012

Musical Monday: Wheat Kings

As much as last weekend was about “Wagon Wheel”, this weekend was about “Wheat Kings”.

The hauntingly beautiful tune by the Tragically Hip was once my go-to song to play on guitar.  I spent this weekend re-connecting with it, trying to perfect it all over again.

(I like to think I sound prettier than Gord Downie, though… I probably don’t.)

Sundown in the Paris of the prairies
Wheat kings have all treasures buried
And all you hear are the rusty breezes
Pushing around the weathervane Jesus

In his Zippo lighter he sees the killer's face
Maybe it's someone standing in a killer's place
Twenty years for nothing, well, that's nothing new
Besides, no one's interested in something you didn't do

Wheat kings and pretty things
Let's just see what the morning brings

There's a dream he dreams where the high school's dead and stark
It's a museum and we're all locked up in it after dark
Where the walls are lined all yellow, grey and sinister
Hung with pictures of our parents' prime ministers

Wheat kings and pretty things
Wait and see what tomorrow brings

Late breaking story on the CBC
A nation whispers, "We always knew that he'd go free"
They add, "You can't be fond of living in the past
'Cause if you are then there's no way that you're going to last"

Wheat kings and pretty things
Let's just see what tomorrow brings

Wheat kings and pretty things
Oh that's what tomorrow brings

The song spins the tale of true Canadian lore; the story of the wrongful conviction of David Milgaard, who spent twenty years in prison for a grisly crime he did not commit.  And it is performed by one of our country’s most beloved bands.

It’s a little slice of “Canadiana”, as much a part of our culture as hockey, beer, and Beavertails.

For me, though? 

For me, it takes me back to my parents’ garage, a cool August evening about ten years ago, when my cousin Troy showed up, guitar in hand, and said, “I hear Jilly’s learning to play, thought I’d stop by and show her a few things.” 

We gathered out there, with pints and lawn chairs, and those few hours of sitting around with the cousin I idolized, my parents, and my siblings, tuning guitars, listening to him sing, listening to him sing with my Dad, listening to his advice, fumbling around with my own guitar and wishing I could be even half as good as him…

…well, they are treasure to me.

When he left, I knew the basics of “Wheat Kings”, and he told me to keep working on it.  When I played it for him several months later on Christmas Eve – the first year I was brave enough to play in front of anyone other than my immediate family -  he told me it was awesome. 

Deep down, I know it will never be as awesome as when he played it, but it was the first song he ever taught me, and it will always make me think of him.

Near & dear, for sure.

I’ll get it back.


Linking up today with Miss Angie for Musical Monday.



Nicole said...

Awe, this gave me goosebumps!

Ricki Jill Treleaven said...

Although they are Canadian, they definitely sound like Southern Rock, like the Allman Brothers, don't you think?

I really like this, Jill!

Miss Angie said...

They did sound like southern rock, and I really enjoyed that song! Thanks for sharing, and thanks for linking up! :)

Jaime said...

Wonderful memories! And great music!

Beth Wade said...

So when do we get to hear you playing and singing? :)

That's a great memory...

Nancy said...

your post brought tears to my eyes. I remember living in Kingston when the Hip was a bar band.

Jolene said...

Love the steal guitar.

I left a Liebster Award for you on my page, but see you have one already.

Anonymous said...

Loved this. Thank you for sharing.. I had never heard of it before or this band.