Tag Archives: The Watchmen

Happy Little Accidents

I used to question the theory that every moment in a person’s life has led them to the moment they are experiencing right now. I mean, how many throwaway moments have there been? Certainly a lot. We’re not living a fictitious life within the pages of a best-selling novel. Not everything that happens moves the plot forward or develops our character. Sometimes the tip of your pencil breaking is inconsequential, and then sometimes a sequence of events gets strung together over twenty-five years to culminate in an experience never to be forgotten.

Like this one.

Back in my first year of university, I met a few people that, even at that early stage, I knew were special. My buddy Riaz, my friend-girlfriend-not friend-friend-girlfriend-fiancee-wife, Jodi, and my friend-lab partner-roommate-colleague-boss-friend, Jason.

Riaz introduced me to Jodi. I met her properly in his room across the hall from mine. She was playing Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis and he and I were listening to music, playing Ultima Underworld on his computer, and burning incense. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Jodi and Riaz introduced me to this band called The Watchmen. Jodi pushing their first album, Maclaren Furnace Room, and Riaz in love with their second one, In The Trees. Ri and I would take in as many of their shows as we could over the years and have more than a few stories to tell about those times.

Jay was a friend of some friends and lived on a rival floor in residence, and later became my lab partner and my go-to friend for a game or ten of pool, often played at the on-campus bar where this one album with the strange name, Shakespeare My Butt, by this obscure band called Lowest of the Low seemed to play on an endless loop.

Life was grand. Responsibilities were minimal. Parental supervision was non-existent. Our relationships were rooted in amazing Canadian music; the less mainstream stuff like Watchmen and Lowest of the Low, as well as the national heroes The Tragically Hip. Then, things started to change. Not overnight, though looking back it does feel like it was, but in slow motion over the span of years and decades.

Jodi and I married and a year later Jay married this wonderful woman, Tamara. Riaz moved back out West. Jay and Jodi stopped going to Watchmen concerts with me, but Tam was a big fan and stepped up and started being my “date” for shows. There was this one concert that all four of us went to one day. I think it was before kids were in the picture and we could all be out on a Friday night in Toronto (about an hour away from where we lived) without feeling guilty or tired. We saw Lowest of the Low open for Billy Bragg. Jodi’s a huge Billy Bragg fan and we were all in love with Lowest of the Low from our days hanging out in the on-campus bar.

For me, though, it was The Watchmen that held my attention. In the early days of me falling in love with Jodi, they were there. We’d argue over which of their first two albums was better. I could pull a lyric from any song and relate it to something about us. Strangely enough, on a couple occasions Danny, the lead singer from the band, would sing a Billy Bragg song as his signature a cappella song during their concerts.

In 2011 I decided I would do something special for my anniversary. I took some singing lessons and got a band together, with Jay on guitar, and I surprised her with an a cappella Billy Bragg song (sadly, not a romantic one but the one Danny sang at his shows) and a rendition of The Watchmen song, All Uncovered, the chords and lyrics for which were really hard to come by. Enter in Facebook and the super talented and one hell of a nice guy bassist for The Watchmen and solo artist, Ken Tizzard. I sent Ken a message asking for help with the song and he sent me back, within a couple hours I might add, some photos of their songbook that was no longer in print. It was an awesome gesture and was the reason the performance went off without a hitch (or well enough, all things considered).

While this was going on I was working on my writing and meeting a lot of really cool creative types on the internet. One of them was this fellow by the name of Alex Kimmell. He writes creepy, mind-bending horror now but he used to be a musician until MS decided to send him a swift kick to the nards and take that away. Back in the day, he was a drummer for this grunge outfit Out Vile Jelly.  Korn opened for them at one point. It was then, through a connection at a record label that he was introduced and got into the music of The Watchmen. Alas, when I met him the MS prohibited extended travel and they weren’t touring anymore, only playing gigs in Toronto and occasional other Canadian cities. That’s when I got the idea that whenever I would go to a show, I would record his favourite Watchmen song for him so he’d get to experience the experience a little bit.

In the middle of all of that, like a gut punch from out of nowhere, we lost Riaz. It was sudden, it hurt like a sonofabitch, and it left a big hole. In the intro to my video tribute to him, there was Watchmen playing in the background. Hearing their music would never be the same. Every song would be bittersweet and carry a deeper meaning than I ever thought possible (more on Riaz in this blog post).

You might be thinking that this is all fine and dandy but what does it have to do with my opening paragraph? Well, that’s where Friday night comes in. All of what I just described (though it happened in much greater detail in real life) came together to give me the greatest concert experience I will likely ever have.

It actually started Thursday night when I got the last-minute idea to message Ken once again asking for a favour. I thought it would be cool if, before they played Alex’s favourite song, they tossed out a dedication to him. So, I asked. Ken got back to me in rapid fashion again and had some bad news. They were swapping out that song for something else for this show. He did say he’d discuss it with the guys though. I thanked him for even considering it and wished them a good show.

Friday comes and Tam agrees to drive into the city and we arrive at the venue ten minutes before the opener hits the stage. Because we’re old we got seats up in the balcony this time and were able to sit down for the show. It felt weird at first, having never seen the band from a chair before, but my aching bones would thank me later. The opening act? A fella by the name of Ron Hawkins. No, not the one from Arkansas currently in the Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Someone better. The Ron Hawkins who happens to play guitar and sing for the Lowest of the Low.

Ron opened the night with a close-to-45-minute set that included some solo stuff, some Lowest of the Low, some Rusty Nails, and a few snippets of some cover tunes just for shits and giggles. He even brought the LotL guitarist, Steve, on stage to do a couple of their classic tunes. It was a lot of fun, and the place was already close to capacity. The mood was set for more good times, and oh boy, were they delivered – in spades.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOcSOB2JiYk]

Due to curfew rules for the venue, The Watchmen came on at 9:02. Early by concert standards but to come on stage so soon after such a good opener turned out to be a great idea. Everyone was excited and feeling good, including the band, and from the very first chord, it showed.

Now, because I wasn’t sure if they’d play Alex’s song or not, at the end of each song I’d get my phone ready to record. It wasn’t a big deal because I was sitting down. I just put my phone in my lap with my camera app open and clapped and cheered like everyone else while we waited for the next tune. Then, the band did something different. The bassist grabbed an acoustic guitar and the drummer grabbed some bongos. Sensing something special coming I started recording, and Danny gave a little intro and they kicked into a cover of a Tragically Hip song. It was emotional as hell.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPjAT_CUwSQ]

For those who don’t know, The Hip (as they are affectionately known) lost their lead singer, Gord Downie, a couple years ago (about a year after I lost Riaz). The nation mourned (I wrote about that, too), but Friday night when The Watchmen played one of their tunes, it was a celebration. I, along with every other person in the joint, was close to tears, but it was a celebration and a damn fine tribute.

Then, the band played my favourite Watchmen tune acoustic-style. It’s the one I learned to play for my anniversary.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itWajwu7F-0]

That was followed up by Danny’s a cappella. It wasn’t Billy Bragg this time, but it sounded like gold. His voice was like butter and while no live performance will ever be executed perfectly, it was perfect.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLdcikOt3h8]

The whole show was fantastic. Every song was tight, the sound was clean, the audience was into it, and the band looked like they were having a blast. Toward the end of the show, they called out Ron to do a song: Billy Bragg’s A New England. It was off the charts fantastic and because I was at-the-ready with my phone I captured it.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afCjkdoyHEY]

I didn’t record every emotional moment I had, though. I started recording one of my favourite songs toward the end of the show but it was too much. It was one of Riaz’s favourite songs as well and he would often quote the opening lyric to me randomly on facebook or via email. As soon as they played it I put the phone down and just sat and watched, and listened, and immersed myself in the moment. Even now, the emotions are overwhelming.

With the show coming to a close and one encore set already done it was clear that I had just experienced something truly special. Then, the guys go and outdo themselves yet again. There was a bit of a discussion on stage amongst the band and then Danny informs us that they’re “calling an audible” and instead of only getting one more song to end the night that we’re going to get two. Camera at the ready, I started recording and then I heard the telltale opening drums of Alex’s favourite song, Say Something.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_4O8pOlSNk]

They played the last song after that, just Danny and the guitarist Joey, and the lights came up. Tam and I looked at each other and agreed that it was probably the best show of theirs we’d ever seen. We bypassed the main stairwell and headed down the side steps that led directly outside. Two paces to the right outside on the sidewalk I see a friend from high school that I interact with regularly on Facebook. I haven’t seen him face-to-face in probably twenty-five years. He hadn’t been at the show. He had been out with friends and was waiting for an Uber. He’s a hell of a guy and a wonderful blogger, and it was the perfect random encounter to cap off the perfect evening, all made possible by a quarter of a century of seemingly random and inconsequential events. Bob Ross would have called them happy little accidents, and after Friday night I’d be inclined to agree.

~ Andrew

The 30-Day Song Challenge – Days 11-17

June 13 – Day 11 of the 30-Day Song Challenge

A song from my favourite band

Ah! What to do? There are three bands that jump immediately to mind when someone asks me who my favourite band or artist is: Rush, U2, and The Watchmen. I listed them in the reverse order of preference  🙂 Rush was my first fanboy experience, U2 was there throughout some of my most enjoyable and memorable experiences as a teenager, and The Watchmen has been my fave from 1993 onward. Ken is one of the finest folks you’ll ever meet (and one hell of a musician) and I have a truckload of good memories from their shows.

They don’t have a lot of stuff online and my friend Alex loves the band but hasn’t seen them play live in decades. I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite so I’ll pick a song that is his favourite. You can get a feel for how awesome it is to see these guys perform in this video. They don’t play often, but if you can see them I’d recommend going.

“The second night without you is no better than the first. I hope the third one won’t be worse.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVmVbS-dTtI]

June 14 – Day 12 of the 30-Day Song Challenge

A song from a band I hate

It really pains me to do this. Even writing their name makes me cringe and all I can think of is the picture of the lead singer standing with his arm around Stephen Harper (coincidentally enough the Canadian Prime Minister I hate the most). Chad Kroeger from Nickelback shares a birthday with a tattoo artist that has done a lot of work on my wife and I. We were getting work done one say and this fact came out and he went on a classic rant about Chad and Nickelback, most of which can’t be repeated.

“And what the fuck is on Joey’s head? Fuck you, you asshole! It’s a fucking yarmulke! He’s Jewish!” – Wayne

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3rXdeOvhNE]

June 15 – Day 13 of the 30-Day Song Challenge

A song that is a guilty pleasure

Okay, so here’s the thing. My formidable years were in the 80’s. Big hair, fantastically ugly gym shorts with matching tube socks, and lots of synthesizers and electronic drums. Did I mention the big hair? During that time I had what could only be described as a “diverse” taste in music. The first cassettes I ever bought were The Box (self-titled, 1984) followed by Fleetwood Mac (Rumors, 1977), and Pink Floyd (The Wall, 1982).

The height of hysteria came in the form of Michael Jackson and I was a huge fan and got Thriller on vinyl. I wasn’t alone in this craze, however. Nor was I alone in my appreciation for Culture Club, Cindy Lauper, Corey Hart, Gino Vannelli, Gowan, U2, The Who, Bryan Adams, or the American Bryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen 😉 and of course, Madonna!

To this day, I know at least the chorus to more Madonna songs than any of the other acts I’ve mentioned with the possible exception of Pink Floyd and U2. A personal favourite of mine happens to be Material Girl and you’ll find me singing out loud (chorus only – see a previous post on me not knowing the lyrics to anything)  in my car and then looking around to make sure nobody heard me  with that look on my face that kind of resembles a cat that just fell off the couch while licking its butt and is now strutting across the floor all, “Yeah, totes did that on purpose.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3wYIjI8WcI]

June 16 – Day 14 of the 30-Day Song Challenge

A song that no one would expect me to love

I don’t know what people would not expect me to love. There are some that stand out that are obvious choices for songs I *do* love but I tend to like a wide variety of music with the exception of gangsta rap and a good amount of country. Jodi is the true music lover and I end up liking quite a bit of what she downloads. I fill my iPod with what I like and then tell it to fill the free space with random stuff from the library.

A few years back we went to see Jason Mraz (we had pretty good seats too) and as is customary with Jodi she had all the music from artists we were going to see in concert loaded into a playlist. So, on the way down to the show (about an hour’s drive) we were listening to Jason Mraz as well as the opening act for the tour, Christina Perri.

Jason Mraz was okay. He certainly did nothing to turn me into a fan, though the guys he had playing the brass instruments were fantastic. Christina Perri, on the other hand, absolutely wowed me. She put on a great show and sounded equally as great. When her songs come on the iPod when I’m driving the volume goes up every time. Avery and I sing this one together if I’m driving her to the bus. It’s my favourite Christina Perri tune and a song I think no one would expect me to love.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeW0Sl0tNS8]

June 17 – Day 15 of the 30-Day Song Challenge

A song that describes me

Me in a nutshell:

  • I am fiercely and proudly Canadian
  • I love hockey and I married a woman who doesn’t give a fuck about it (and I never saw someone say that before)
  • In grade school, I was a pro at the flexed arm hang
  • My temperament is like a firework. There’s a short fuse that burns too quickly and then there’s an explosion. 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=San1NQSS1Rw]

June 18 – Day 16 of the 30-Day Song Challenge

A song that I used to love but now hate

I don’t like this category. I’d prefer if it was a song that I used to hate but now love, but rules are rules so I’ll take a crack at it.

I had a hard time coming up with anything that I used to love but now hate. I have found that if I like a song I like a song and that doesn’t change much over time. There are some songs that have lost a bit of luster and a bunch of these songs are Counting Crows songs. Remember how I mentioned that we’d put the Counting Crows on at bedtime? Since there were only so many low key CDs out there the Counting Crows were played a lot. So much Counting Crows.

I guess after so many years their music has just lost a bit of its allure. This song was big when I was in university and I “danced” to it. I’m sure I had a jolly ole time singing along, but now if it comes on I turn it off.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oqAU5VxFWs]

June 19 – Day 17 of the 30-Day Song Challenge

A song I hear often on the radio

In the morning when I’m shaving and in the shower, we will listen to Magic 106.1 out of Guelph, Ontario. Their website says they play “Today’s Best Mix”. At dinner time and other meals spent eating as a family we listen to 96.7 CHYM FM who proclaims to bring us “Today’s Best Music”. If I’m to believe their slogans both of these stations will be playing me the best of music currently being put out by artists, however, he genres are fairly narrow. I think for the most part they can be considered “Top 40” with a few less current tunes thrown in every now and then.

I picked a song that I seem to hear on the radio a lot, but couldn’t pick which station I think I hear it playing on most often. So, I went to the respective websites and looked at their recent songs and lo and behold in the hour before I wrote this post (Sunday afternoon) the song had been played on BOTH stations (48 and 50 minutes respectively). Aside from Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” I don’t think there’s a song I hear more often, and since I like this one better it’s the one I’m picking.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGwWNGJdvx8]

~ Andrew

The Sound of Music – Ranking Revealed

Over the last while, in an homage to High Fidelity I’ve been writing about my Top 5 Albums of All Time. I used some basic criteria to make the list:

  • Number of songs I like on the album (i.e. the fewer songs I skip over, the better)
  • Emotional impact of the album (i.e. how does listening to it make me feel?)
  • Composition of the album (i.e. are the songs arranged in an order I find pleasing?)

Truthfully, though, I went with my gut. I tried to pretend someone asked me, “What’s your favourite album of all time?” and then answered as quickly as possible. Lather, rinse, repeat four more times. I spat them out in five blog posts with some detailed explanations and stories behind each one. What I didn’t do was put them in order. This post is designed to remedy that.

The first one was easy. The next four? Not so much.

Number 5: Shakespeare My Butt – Lowest of the Low
This is a really fun album with some really happy memories attached to it. If you haven’t listened to this one (and a lot of people won’t have) you should add it to your collection.

Number 4: Ten – Pearl Jam
I saw these guys play shows twenty years apart and the songs they played off this album still held up. This album will never grow old. 

Number 3: Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
Turn out the lights, close your eyes, maybe have a sandwich, and play this album start to finish. Best destresser ever. 

Number 2: In The Trees – The Watchmen
Another Canadian gem. Such great lyrics and the vocals are truly a gift to your ears.

Number 1: The Joshua Tree – U2
I could listen to this album every day and not tire of it. It’s the reason it’s #1 and my always answer to the question, “If you were stranded on a desert island and only had one album, which one would you want it to be?”

Of course, no Top X list wold be complete without some honourable mentions! Give these a look-see. I know you won’t be disappointed. I’ll add more as I get around to it. For now, these will do the trick.

  • The Watchmen – McLaren Furnace Room
  • RUSH – Moving Pictures
  • Led Zeppelin – IV
  • The Beatles – The White Album
  • Nirvana – Nevermind
  • Pink Floyd – The Wall
  • The Tragically Hip – Road Apples

Happy listening!

~Andrew

The Sound of Music – Part 5

Welcome to the fifth and final installment of the Sound of Music – My Top Five Albums Of All Time. 

My “deserted island” list of albums I’d want to have with me if I were stranded is almost complete. Thus far I’ve presented the following (in no particular order): 

As a reminder, I present my main decision-making criteria:

  • Number of songs I like on the album (the fewer songs I skip over, the better)
  • Composition of the album (are the songs arranged in an order I find pleasing)
  • Memories invoked when I hear a song from the album
  • Emotional impact of the album (how does listening to it make me feel?)

Today, we complete the list with an album that literally helped define a generation. By many it is not viewed in the same regard as, say, Nevermind by Nirvana, but in my opinion, this album was more complex, richer experience that touched a much broader audience. 


Without further ado, I present …

Source: Wikipedia
Released 1991
Track Listing: 
  1. “Once”  (9/10)
  2. “Even Flow” (9/10)
  3. “Alive” (10/10)
  4. “Why Go” (9/10)
  5. “Black” (9/10)
  6. “Jeremy”  (10/10)
  7. “Oceans”  (8/10)
  8. “Porch” (8/10)
  9. “Garden”  (8/10)
  10. “Deep” (9/10)
  11. “Release” (10/10)

I like every song on this album. In fact, I’ve liked every song on this album since the moment it was released. If I were to rank each song from one to eleven the songs at the bottom, Oceans, Porch, and Garden end up bouncing around in my head for hours after hearing them.

I completely understand why the producer decided to open with the song “Once”. It’s a powerful song and within the first minute of the song the lyrics, “Once upon a time I could control myself / Once upon a time I could lose myself” tell us that we’re about to embark on a fairytale journey like none other. Followed by “Even Flow” these two tracks make you feel like all you’ve been doing is climbing, then, without warning like the first big drop on a roller coaster we hear “Alive”, a song just as powerful as any of the others but slightly down tempo. Not to have us get lulled into a false sense of security the album hits back with a 1-2 punch with “Why Go” and then “Black” only to follow up with probably the most iconic opening bass line in the band’s catalog on “Jeremy”. The album continues with songs that alternate between laying low a little and jumping right up in your face until we get to the last song on the track. As far as album endings go “Release” is a formidable choice for the end of this wild ride, though I have to admit that it’s just as fitting to have it as a live show opener. All in all, the songs on Ten are perfectly arranged and are a pleasure to listen to on their own, in order as they are on the album, or randomized on an iPod with a thousand other songs. 

This album makes me feel like jumping around and yelling. Occassionally, a song will come on that’s one of the slower ones and instead of jumping around and yelling it will just magnify whatever feeling I am having in that moment. The themes of the album are dark and uncomfortable and complex, and the feelings it invokes are the same. But most of all, it makes me feel like jumping around and yelling. 

There are too many memories involving this album to list them all here. I remember one of my longest standing childhood friends driving us to a party and saying, “I’m feeling kind of grunge tonight” and putting PJ on in the car. I remember countless days and nights “studying” with Riaz; half written physics equations haphazardly scribbled on scrap paper and Riaz with his guitar in hand and Pearl Jam on the CD player. They are the go-to concert for another friend of mine and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them a couple times with him. I should have seen PJ in New Orleans with him back in 1995 but this girl I worked with wouldn’t switch shifts with me (which was a total jerk move, if you ask me). 

Probably the coolest memory I have involves the pop/ska band The English Beat. I was in Ottawa, Ontario, standing a few rows from the stage with my Pearl Jam tour buddy and Pearl Jam launched into their hit song “Betterman”. They extended the ending and out of nowhere started singing the English Beat’s “Save It For Later”. Fast forward five years and I’m in Waterloo, Ontario (a solid six-hour drive from Ottawa) and I’m in a small club watching the English Beat with my wife when right in the middle of their song “Save It For Later” they start playing a few bars of Pearl Jam’s “Betterman”. I figure I was the only person there who had that experience and every time either of those songs come on my iPod I think of those two concert moments. Also, if you’ve never experienced the crowd participation at a Pearl Jam concert, you are truly missing out. I only need to speak two words on this topic: Baba O’Riley. Look it up on YouTube

So there you have it, my top five albums of all time. Next time, I’ll put the songs in order and give you a list of great albums that didn’t quite make the top five cut but are worth checking out nonetheless. 

~ Andrew

The Sound of Music – Part 3

My wife has got a wide range of musical tastes and only occasionally will I hear something playing in her car that I don’t enjoy. Certainly, without her extensive pallat of auditory awesomeness  I would not have been exposed to this song by the Magnetic Fields:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf_l3EGQvL8]

Or this cover of a Magnetic Fields song – and one of my favourite covers of all time – by The Airborne Toxic Event (whom we also saw play live in Toronto a few years ago):

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQUZBi-P6Jw]

Or even this:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeTPNjPiyJM]

So, whenever she and I enter into a discussion about which album from a band is better than one of their others, it’s common for me to disagree and then after some listening, acquiesce to my wife’s better judgement. Case and point, The Tragically Hip’s Up To Here versus Road Apples. I was always on the side of Up To Here and her on the side of Road Apples, but after a couple listens in the car on the way to work I have flipped sides.

Such is not the case for The Watchmen and their first two albums. McLaren Furnace Room is their first album and is Jodi’s favourite from the band and for a long time I was in agreement with her on it. It’s a killer album and to this day I’m left to wonder why it didn’t vault the band into more rarified air. However, after many, many, many listens of McLaren and their second album, In The Trees, I’ve changed my tune.

Welcome to the third installment of the Sound of Music – My Top Five Albums Of All Time:

In The Trees by The Watchmen

Released 1994

Track Listing:
  1. “34 Dead St.” (9/10)
  2. “Boneyard Tree” (8/10)
  3. “Lusitana” (9/10)
  4. “Wiser” (9/10)
  5. “Calm” (9/10)
  6. “All Uncovered” (10/10)
  7. “In My Mind” (9/10)
  8. “Laugher” (8/10)
  9. “The South” (8/10)
  10. “Born Afire” (8/10)
  11. “Vovo Diva” (7/10)
  12. “Middle East” (9/10)
As a reminder here is the main criteria that went into making my choices:

  • Number of songs I like on the album (i.e. the fewer songs I skip over, the better)
  • Composition of the album (i.e. are the songs arranged in an order I find pleasing?)
  • Memories invoked when I hear a song from the album
  • Emotional impact of the album (i.e. how does listening to it make me feel?)

Looking at my album evaluation criteria seeing this album in my top five shouldn’t come as a surprise. I might occasionally skip over Boneyard Tree and Vovo Diva but even as my least favourite songs on the album I’ll find myself singing along. When listened to end-to-end I find the arrangement of the album to be just about perfect, from the first chords of the hard and heavy 34 Dead St. to the perfect solo bass note played by Ken Tizzard that echoes in your head to end the album, In The Trees, takes me on a journey I never want to end. 

The memories invoked when I hear any song off this album vary, but all begin in first-year university, where in 1993 my friend Riaz introduced me to the band. Naturally, I have oodles and oodles of memories ranging from listening in Riaz’s room to seeing the band play at various clubs and bars around town. Probably the best one, though, is the time Riaz drove me into Toronto to go see them play at The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern.

Legen… wait for it… dary.

If you’ve never been to The Horseshoe, you’re truly missing out on a piece of Toronto history. Renowned for being a bit of a dive, it has been home to some of the most amazing musical talents ever known and their walls are adorned with posters, news articles and ticket stubs from all the acts.

The stage at The Horseshoe all decked out for their 60th-anniversary celebrations

This one particular night Ri and I were there early, he liked to make sure he had a spot right up front by the guitarist, Joey Serlin, but after enjoying a few beverages waiting for the show to start we found ourself in need of relieving ourselves. Downstairs to the basement washroom we went. Now if you’ve never been to The Horseshoe you’re missing out, but if you’ve never been to the men’s room at The Horseshoe you’re not missing a thing.

Washroom wall wisdom Probably the nicest part of the washroom

We walked into the john and who would we find zipping up just as we were heading in? Danny. Thinking the pisser wasn’t the best place to drum up a conversation we did our business and then wandered out into the hallway, peering into a stairwell on the off chance we could sneak up backstage. Danny was sitting in the stairwell having a smoke. A smoke! (Sorry if I’m exposing a dark secret, Danny). Riaz asked if it was cool if we joined him for a cig, and he said he didn’t mind, so we spent the next cigarette’s worth of time shooting the shit and just enjoying a subdued moment. Three guys having a smoke in a stairwell.

The stairwell. No Danny this time. 

Butting out and stomping on what remained of his Du Maurier, Danny said, “Sorry guys but I gotta get into the moment here before I head out.” Riaz and I nodded and thanked him for the chat and wished him a good show. “Thanks guys. Nice meeting you,” he said as Ri and I headed back upstairs to a now packed floor with a couple hundred folks unaware that we had just had the coolest and most surreal experience of our brief music-loving lives.

The emotional impact of this album is probably stronger than any other. I met my wife sitting in Riaz’s room back in 1993 and even took voice lessons and put a band together to play a Watchmen tune for her for our anniversary a few years ago. I feel so much joy when I hear one of their songs on my iPod (which is often because I have a TON of WM music). On the other end of the spectum, Riaz introduced me to both my wife and The Watchmen’s music and he’s gone now, so hearing many of their songs, even the happy ones, makes me sad. If you listen carefully you can hear In My Mind playing in the background at the beginning of my memorial speech and reading.

So there you have it, the third (in no particular order, yet) of my Top Five Albums of All Time along with some of the reasons why. A dozen great tracks invoking myriad emotions and half a lifetime of memories.

You can find The Watchmen music for sale on iTunes here along with some live show downloads here and some FREE tracks / shows for download here.

~ Andrew