the best he ever had

Someone positioned to win a Polaris prize was talking to people at a xmas party about hating to be surprised. They said you should never edit something after its been heard by the fans or recorded. I couldn’t follow why they got worked up about it. Like that the public should rely on the material remaining true to the first version? I just think it sounds stronger when the voice reflects who you are instead of trying to sound pleasing to an imaginary audience. There was a song Greg wrote called Beverly Street. It was about a brief relationship he had with a woman who lived on Beverly Street. The ending was “she was the best I ever had”. One day, after we had performed it a thousand times, he changed the ending to “still I miss you once in awhile”. The phrasing seemed awkward and it changed the narrative. The next thousand times we played it, he sang it with these new lyrics. I don’t know him anymore but back then, touring all the time, you know someone well. I thought he was less the kind of guy who missed her once in a while, and more the one who wrote, you were the best I ever had..I remember the last time I reached out, more than ten years ago when Stephen Harper wanted to prorogue parliament (the first time) and Mez organized musicians to play the rally at city hall. Mez asked if I would call Blue Rodeo, see if they would support the coalition against Harper led by Jack Layton and St├ęphane Dion. Broken Social Scene and Feist were among the others who agreed to play it. I got Greg on the phone, he sighed and told me they would pass because he didn’t see a difference between any of the three political leaders. I slowly remembered what it was like to be together day and night twenty years ago, after a couple moments I didn’t feel so surprised..Back in the 80s, at the rehearsal space off Sorauren, I tried to get him to explain why he changed the lyric to Beverly Street. I wanted to see if I could get him to explain it out loud; he wouldn’t. I imagined someone told him he looked foolish objectifying the woman, maybe a female fan called him on it, but I don’t know, he never answered me. Wasn’t sure if they ever recorded it so I just googled and turns out they did in 2005. Wasn’t alarmed they no longer use the keyboard outro (tsk tsk) but pleasantly amused he reverted back to the original lyric. It’s nice to be surprised.

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