Brother Of Jerry
Date: May 04, 2021 12:59AM
Best garage band ever:
Randy Bachman and Neil Young, Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies doing harmony, Tal Bachman on drums. It was recorded in the garage on Neil Young's ranch.
Now that's some serious horsepower in a garage band.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7ewuZS49aE
It's kind of an odd song - very little in production values. I assume the blue filter was because of the autobiographical nature of the song, about growing up in a prairie town that they loved, but had to leave to get anywhere in the music business.
The home video scenes included some pivotal moments in the history of Winnipeg. As a former Pegger myself, indulge me a bit and I'll give you some of the history.
First, Winnipeg doesn't get a lot of respect in Canada. Even Canadians make jokes about the weather there, and wonder why anyone in their right mind would live there. It's a lot like Scranton PA and Dunder Mifflin Paper, a blue collar town down on its heels.
The Red River of the North starts at the corner of ND, SD and MN, and flows north through Fargo and Grand Forks, through Winnipeg, an on to Hudson Bay. The land is remarkably flat, and prone to nasty floods. In 1955, about when Randy and Neil would have been in middle school, more or less, there was a huge flood in Winnipeg. It damaged large swaths of the city. Some shots of the flood are toward the end of the music video.
After the flood, the mayor, Duff Roblin, had a large diversion channel built around the city at great expense. It was mockingly nicknamed "Duff's Ditch", and went for decades without a drop of water in it.
Then came the flood of 1997, that breeched the dike in Grand Forks, and flooded nearly the entire town, closing it completely for 6 weeks, and burning down 4 blocks of downtown as a sidebar in the overall disaster. Other towns were also damaged. Winnipeg lowered the gates forcing the river into the diversion channel, and the city basically didn't have to lift a finger. People shut up about Duff's Ditch at that point.
The refrain: "Portage and Main, 50 below."
Portage Avenue is the main east-west street through the city, and is the Trans-Canada Highway, except now there is a bypass. It's like State Street in SLC. Main Street is the same size, and the intersection is huge, and surrounded by skyscrapers. The winter wind howling between the buildings is truly legendary. The city actually built an underground concourse under the intersection so pedestrians could cross it out of the weather. Plus the intersection could not handle all the pedestrian and vehicle traffic that built up there.
Impressive snow drifts would build up during blizzards, which were not uncommon.
I think Portage and Main is famous throughout Canada. I know for a fact that it is a legend in Winnipeg. So yeah, "Portage and Main, 50 below" is a phrase laden with meaning for Winnipeggers.
Toward the end of the video, there is a scene filmed from a car of roadside granite. That is the infamous Canadian shield granite, and from Toronto to Winnipeg, you drive through 2,000 miles of that, give or take a bit, depending on the route chosen. And there is remarkably little choice. About the only cities big enough to have more than 1 stoplight are Sudbury, Sault Ste Marie, Thunder Bay, and maybe Kenora.
There is a joke among Canadian musicians that the highway from Sudbury to Winnipeg has broken up more bands than any other single thing. Fifteen hundred miles of nothing will do that. The song mentions Thunder Bay. That is the only real city on that very long stretch of highway.
As for Vinyl Tap - I listen to it now and then. I knew the Bachmans as Winnipeg musicians before I knew anything about the Mormon connection.
I think Vinyl Tap had a 10 year run, It was mostly 60s and 70s rock, with Randy telling stories about the groups or his interactions with the groups. It was interesting, but even as infrequently as I listened, I was hearing the stories again and again. I think the show had run its course, and it was time to move on. It was kind of musical comfort food for me, but life will go on. I didn't know about it being cancelled, until I read it here. I knew Randy was lobbying to not be cancelled.
Well, that's all I can think of right now. Thanks for your indulgence, and I hope it enhances your appreciation of the music video.